Ice Hockey: Grande brothers spur Rustin to Flyers Cup title

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
West Chester Bayard Rustin won its fourth Flyers Cup in six years Wednesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

West Chester Bayard Rustin won its fourth Flyers Cup in six years Wednesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

WEST GOSHEN — The West Chester Rustin ice hockey team will once again wear the Flyers Cup “A’ tournament crown for the fourth time in the last six years after a convincing 4-1 win over Springfield in the championship game Wednesday at Ice Line.

“We were really worried about (Springfield),” said Rustin head coach Nick Russo. “They’re always a tough opponent and a lot class. I’m proud of my boys. It’s just awesome.”

Working off the momentum leftover from a thrilling overtime win against Henderson in the semifinals, Rustin came out ready to play from the drop of the puck.

… [Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]

“We just took it into this game,” said sophomore forward Brett Christie. “We kept playing as hard as we did in that overtime and third period of the Henderson game.”

Helping to the lead the way in the win for Rustin were the Grande brothers, Michael, a junior defenseman, and freshman goaltender, Jason.

Michael Grande led all defenseman in the tournament in points (9) and goals (5), while brother Jason led the way in goals-against (1.25) and was the lone goaltender with a shutout in the tournament.

“Let me tell you something, if I had a high school daughter right now, I’d want her dating one of them because I want those grandkids,” Russo said. “What a gene pool. And they’re great kids in the classroom, on the ice and in the locker room.”

Jason Grande had to fight against the disbelievers this tournament with him being just a freshman and leading the team to a championship.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “As a freshman, they thought I couldn’t do it and we did it.”

Senior forward Armen Asdourian got things going as he slapped the puck from the bottom of the right circle just to get the puck on net. Junior goaltender Bryan Biehl stood up against the post, but lost track of the puck and it snuck across the line at 4:18 for the lone goal of the first.

Starting the second period off strong, Michael Grande needed just 21 seconds to put his team up by two. He grabbed the loose puck below the goal line, skated around a defender to the front of the net and snapped one by Biehl.

With roughly five minutes left in the middle frame, senior forward Jeff Hagan had the opportunity to extend the lead for Rustin on a 2-on-1 break with Eric Flynn, but rang the puck off the post.

Rustin started the third with power-play time and senior forward J.R. Barone needed just all of 19 seconds to fire a shot from the middle of the left circle to put the bench in a frenzy with a commanding 3-0 lead.

But Springfield, which was 5-for-14 on the power play coming into the game, was given golden opportunities to get themselves back in it with three, almost back-to-back penalties by Rustin.

Unfortunately for them, the power play was snuffed out by strong penalty killing units headed by Christie.

Rustin dumped the puck out of its end, a misplay at the blue line by a Springfield player sent the disc gliding down the ice for Christie to chase down. He skated down the slot on a breakaway, did a little forehand, backhand and into the net for a short-handed goal and 4-0 lead.

“Our defense is really good on the PK,” Christie said. “We work on it a lot. They just got it out, I got a lucky bounce and got on a breakaway and put it in the net.”

Springfield began to press, finally breaking through Jason Grande late in the period.

Senior forward Ryan Brawley dug the puck out from along the wall, skated to the high slot and was able to get a shot off with two Rustin players on him which hit the right post and ricocheted in at 10:23.

It would be the only goal Springfield could get past Jason Grande, despite firing 25 shots his way.

“We played tough defense all year,” Russo said. “That’s our motto. Goals wins games, defense win championships. We work on that 75 percent of the time.”

Rustin has captured the championship title in 2009, 2010, 2012 and can now add 2014 to the ever-growing list. They hope to be able to get one more trophy in their collection when they play for the State

Championship on March 22 at State College against western representative Thomas Jefferson or Quaker Valley.

“I’m a one game at a time guy, but whoever (the State Championship opponent) is, we’re going to have a lot of notes on them,” Russo said.

NOTES: Four Rustin players made the All-Flyers Cup team: Barone, Christie, Michael and Jason Grande. … Barone was named the MVP.

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Categories: High School Sports, Ice Hockey, Sports

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