This article can be found published on the ChesCo Hockey Haven‘s website.
WEST GOSHEN — If there was any concern about exhaustion with West Chester East goaltender Joe Stacy, he laid it all to rest with his stellar performance against Great Valley in a Ches-Mont game Friday night at Ice Line.
The junior stopped all shots he faced, including on numerous power plays, before finally letting one in with less than six minutes left — and that was his second game of the night.
“I came right from a Quakers game over in (Rink) 4 and we had to run here and barely made it before warm-ups ended,” Stacy said. “Coming off of (a game) and coming right into one is not as hard as it sounds, but you still have to stay focused and can’t get let it get to you between games when you’re running over here.”
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So did he feel the slightest bit of exhaustion?
“No, not at all,” he said with a smile.
Stacy, who was one of five players coming over from the Quakers, backstopped East (10-2, 11-2) to its conference leading 11th win of the season. The next closest team is West Chester Henderson with eight.
But it wasn’t an easy win in any way for East.
Great Valley (3-5-1, 5-5-1) stepped on the ice with the same determination East had to take the game from the top team in the Ches-Mont.
“Great Valley is a scrappy team and they have a very good goalie who played really well tonight,” said East head coach Drew Cox.
Evan Christian stopped 18-of-20 shots he faced through two period, making some remarkable saves along the way.
Though the ice started to tilt in the back half of the second period when East began taking penalty after penalty, ultimately committing four in a row.
“It’s just frustrating with any dumb penalties, especially like that where a lot were misconducts and unsportmanlikes that you don’t need to be taking,” Stacy said.
Lucky for East, Stacy and the penalty killers were up to the task and kept Great Valley off the board.
“They really were going hard in the first half and thankfully we played well as a team and we’re playing good defense, so that really helped out a lot and I didn’t have to do as much,” Stacy said.
His coach knew the game could have had a different ending if not for the play of his goaltender.
“He made some big saves and battled on a couple of their power plays where they could have kept it a lot closer than it was and made it a lot more interesting,” Cox said.
East was able to break the game open in the third when junior forwards Chris Rodier scored short-handed and Chase Miller tallied on the power play to go up 4-0.
“We just have to keep each other together and our captain is very good with that,” said East forward Eddie Russell. “We just have to keep our heads together and make sure we don’t get more penalties.”
Despite two late goals for Great Valley from sophomore forward Ben Capetola, East was able to come away with its third straight win.
“We still got our two points and we worked on our power play quite a bit,” Cox said. “We were a little undisciplined, but for the most part, I liked the way we played and how we handled it.”
Learning how to continue to find ways to win, whether it be a close game or overcoming obstacles such as penalties, is exactly what Cox wants to see his team do.
“You have to,” he said. “The postseason comes up on you in a hurry, especially once the New Year is here. In the postseason, you have to find a way to win games and you have to find different ways to win games. I’ve been coaching long enough that you have to use the season to prepare for that. You still have to put the work in to make the playoffs, but our goal is to be at the end every year and we use the season to prepare for that so when the time comes to win those win-or-go-home games, we’re prepared.
“I’m hard on these guys every game and every practice. One little let-up and you’re out of the playoffs or out of the Flyers Cup. You never know when that can be so we like to try to hold as many cards in our hands as we can.”