This article can be found published on the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website.
WEST GOSHEN – A big win overcoming a tough goaltender and questionable calls was exactly the type of rebound the Unionville boys ice hockey team (14-1-1) needed after its first loss earlier in the week.
Unionville overcame some odds stacked against them in the form of Archbishop Ryan’s (5-8-1) goaltender, John Kenny, and questionable refereeing to dominate the game to the tune of a 6-1 final.
“We used [the loss] as motivation not to lose again,” said Unionville senior forward Nicholas Ward. “The way we played was absolutely embarrassing and we just had to make sure that didn’t happen again.”
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In order to do that, Unionville had to first solve the riddle of Kenny, who turned aside 26 shots in the first two periods, including a couple highlight-reel glove saves. But after wearing down Ryan’s roster of just 12 skaters and some unstoppable shots, a four-goal third paved the way to a win.
“The kids learned something from that [loss] and it showed them if you don’t come ready to play every game, we can get beat,” said Unionville head coach William Hammond. “They totally dominated this team. The goalie frustrated us for a while, but they stayed focused and that was the key.”
The focus was especially crucial after a spear from an Archbishop Ryan player went uncalled late in the second, but instead, sophomore forward John Hargadon was slapped with a retaliation penalty which infuriated the team.
Shoving matches and face-washing quickly became the norm after every stoppage of play, but the Unionville players reigned themselves in to put more attention on scoring instead of getting even.
“I think a lot of the reffing tonight was mediocre,” Hammond said. “If the other team is being cheap against you, you’ve got to make those calls. You can’t let it continue because it exacerbates into what you see at the end of so many games when people just get into fights. They still are teenagers and the refs really need to clamp down on that crap.”
Hammond said his team was able to maintain focus and it was something which was constantly stressed every time the players returned to the bench, and for some players, all that was needed was a reminder.
“I just have to remember why I’m out there,” Ward said. “I’m out there to put the puck in the net. I’m not out there to go stir the pot. I’m there to help my team win.”
A 5-on-3 against Unionville early in the first period led to the game’s first goal. Senior goaltender Joshua Seder made a pad save on senior forward Joey Albert’s shot from the slot, but the rebound kicked out and sophomore defenseman Joe Wixted pounced at 6:52.
Sophomore defenseman Alex Wilkens tried to get Unionville on the board, but his shot from the point hit the post and another missed opportunity came on a 2-on-1.
Unionville’s turn finally came with 44.1 seconds left in the first when Wilkens got a second chance, this time when he was all alone in front of Kenny and waited for the goaltender to make the first move before he deposited it in the net.
Junior forward Gabe Masters scored his 11th goal – and lone one in the second – off a deflection from Hargadon’s shot from the point at 2:58.
Ward needed all of 50 seconds to give Unionville a 3-1 lead in the third when he was left alone in the slot and caught Kenny by surprise.
Unfortunately for Kenny, three more goals came in the period from senior forwards Zachary Lyons and Quinten Curtis and sophomore defenseman Parker Wine.
Being able to overcome a stingy goaltender such as Kenny was good preparation for Unionville, whose schedule doesn’t get any easier in the final two games against Spring-Ford and West Chester Bayard Rustin.
“Tonight was a good win for us,” Hammond said. “We’ve got a lot of big games coming up for us in the future and the playoffs in the league and Flyers Cup. We’re going to be playing teams with very good goalies.”