Ice Hockey: Henderson survives frantic finish to capture Ches-Mont Championship

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Players and coaches celebrated W.C. Henderson's Ches-Mont Championship win over Downingtown East Friday night. (Candice Monhollan)

Players and coaches celebrated W.C. Henderson’s Ches-Mont Championship win over Downingtown East Friday night. (Candice Monhollan)

WEST GOSHEN — It was the most anticlimactic ending to a championship games since the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, but it didn’t matter to the West Chester Henderson hockey team as they left Ice Line the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League Ches-Mont champions Friday night.

With seconds ticking off the clock, mass hysteria surrounded the Henderson net as they desperately clung to a one-goal lead. Downingtown East whacked away at a loose puck and a whistle was heard, There was a question if there was still time on the clock. However, the referees indicated the game was over and Henderson was finally able to celebrate a 3-2 victory.

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“It was hectic,” said senior forward Eric Carreras. “I saw (goalie Tyler Bonjo) make the save and then I saw it was loose and then they blew the whistle, so the play was over. Then (the referee) waved his hands saying it was over. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten my stuff off so fast.”

A year removed from a Ches-Mont championship game loss, Henderson was able to be other the other side of things this time around. For outgoing seniors such as Carreras, its a moment to remember for the rest of his life.

“It was nerve-wracking,” he said. “Coming into the day, you don’t know what to expect with the fans, but it’s nice to finally get the win and share it with my teammates.”

Carreras, on a line with his younger brother Matt and senior Kyle Wicka, were a dangerous force on the ice whenever they touched the puck.It came as no surprise that the three accounted for Henderson’s goals in the game.

“You have two brothers playing with each other who know where each other will be,” said head coach Scott DiRico. “They see the ice so well and complement each other. Then they have the huge body of Kyle Wicka, who plays like Eric Lindros. It’s a hard line to play against.”

Eric Carreras got things started on a 1-on-2 with a shot from the top of the right circle. Freshman goaltender Jeff Cummings didn’t barely had time to move before the puck found the back of the net 6:24 into the first.

Downingtown East tied it after sophomore Kyle Raciti took a shot from the high slot. Bonjo thought he caught the puck, but it ended up bouncing off his catching glove and behind the line.

Bonjo (24 saves) was visibly frustrated at himself, but didn’t let it rattle him.Henderson answered 83 seconds later, this time from Wicka, who was left all alone and had plenty of time to line up the shot.

A power play to Henderson gave them the perfect opportunity to extend the lead. Junior defenseman Seth Lehman found the open lane for a cross-ice pass to Matt Carreras waiting in the middle of the left circle and tallied a goal for a 3-1 lead 11:25 into the second period.

Downingtown East wasn’t going to go away easily, which didn’t surprise DiRico.

“That was, without question, probably the best team that we’re going to play,” he said. “They are so good and so well coached. I had no idea what to expect. It was just a coin flip at that point.”

A long pass sent up the ice sent senior forward Ryan Knight off to the races and his wrister went top shelf on Bonjo to bring his team within one with five minutes left in the game.

An interference call to Eric Carreras with 2:30 left in the game put everyone on the edge of their seats. The final handful of minutes were nail-biting, heart-stopping and every other cliché possible.

But Henderson was up to the task and put forth one of its best penalty kill efforts of the season to keep Downingtown East from tying things up, and once back to full strength, kept it going during the final frantic seconds of the game to win the hardware.

“We came together in the past month and a half,” DiRico said. “This past week, they bought into everything and supported each other. This is one of the most fun — and nerve-wracking — weeks I’ve had in hockey, playing and coaching.”


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Categories: High School Sports, Ice Hockey, Sports

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