This article can be found published on the ChesCo Hockey Haven‘s website.
WEST GOSHEN — You couldn’t ask for a better start to the Ches-Mont Quarterfinals than to have the first game go to overtime.
And that’s exactly what happened as top-ranked West Chester Rustin ran headfirst into a hot goalie in Evan Christian with Great Valley, but ultimately won, 4-3, off junior Brett Christie’s goal Monday night at Ice Line.
“(Great Valley) is a gritty team,” said Rustin head coach Nick Russo. “Their goalie is one of the best in the league. We had 53 shots — I don’t know what more we could do. They played with a lot of heart and did exactly what we like to do and how we play. They played Rustin hockey and almost beat us at it.”
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Christian, who has been a staple in Great Valley’s net, put on a performance to remember in the game.
Not only that, but Great Valley’s whole team came to play against the top seed, taking the lead twice in the game.
“Their goalie played very well,” Christie said. “They have some pretty good scorers on their team and had some nice shots. We got a little nervous mid-second and into the third period.”
Frustration began to show for Rustin when players began banging their sticks on the ice when they couldn’t get anything past Christian.
But Russo believes some of that also has to do with his team’s mindset heading into the game.
“They didn’t come to the rink ready to play tonight,” he said. “For the first time in my career, I had a pregame speech. When I walked into the locker room, they weren’t dressed. We need to get our heads straight and it showed out there.”
Despite falling behind off a power-play goal from junior Eric Flynn, the Patriots kept the pressure up and scored on a power play of their own.
“I just had to keep refocusing them,” Russo said. “It’s like being a parent. You don’t spank the kid for punishment, but once in a while, a little slap on the fanny wakes them up, like, ‘Oh, this is for real.’ That’s really what it was.”
The reality did set in for Rustin when their Ches-Mont season was on the line when the game headed into a 10-minute overtime tied at 3.
Both sides once again had its close opportunities to score, but it wasn’t until almost halfway through the extra session when Christie scored to send his team to the semifinals.
“Nothing Brett does surprises me,” Russo said. “I would say yes, but he’s just that kid — he’s your money guy. You see him just rising to the top. I’m prejudiced and biased, but I think he’s the best forward in the league and maybe the area.”
Though he may have scored the goal, Christie won’t let all the glory of the goal settle just on him.
“I’m not really the hero,” he said. “Everyone had a part in that play. It’s good to score a goal and help us win the game, but it’s better that everyone helped.”
Downingtown East 5, Perkiomen Valley 2
Pulling out the fifth seed on the last night of the regular season, Downingtown East closed the door on No. 4-seeded Perkiomen Valley with strong performances from its defense and goaltending.
“(Perkiomen Valley) came on strong the whole entire game,” said D-East head coach Dave Hendricks. “We were a little inconsistent, but overall, I knew we had the depth that we could roll lines on them and move lines on them and get them moving. My defense and my goalie just played amazing tonight. A couple key saves by the goaltender makes it a lot easier for the forwards.”
D-East took a 3-0 lead early in the second from its young core with sophomores Collin Harple and Joe Kubachka scoring, along with junior Jack MaGee.
Perkiomen Valley pulled to within one in the third, but a goal late from David Rosati and an empty-netter from Ben Robertson sealed the win.
West Chester East 7, Spring-Ford 1
Spring-Ford may have won big in the play-in round the night before, but hit a brick wall in No. 2-seeded West Chester East.
“We came out hard,” said junior Chris Rodier, who has a hat trick in the game. “Getting a goal (44 seconds in) helps and gets the crowd into the game and it kind of takes away some of the pressure and tension breaking that 0.”
Joe Stacy, who has been the solid in net all season long for the Vikings, stopped 15-of-16 en route to the win.
“It was definitely a good win,” said East coach Bryan Stewart. “The kids played great and came out strong and put it to them early.
West Chester Henderson 4, Unionville 3
It was as nerve-wracking as it could get in the final two minutes of the game as No. 3 West Chester Henderson went on the penalty kill, clinging to a 4-3 lead over No. 6 Unionville.
“Killing off a penalty in a one-goal game in the last two minutes is one of the worst things to do as a coach,” said Henderson head coach Scott DiRico. “Our guys were ready to go — there’s not question about it. Everyone of them had all the energy in the world to finish it so I trusted they would get it done.”
Helping fuel the energy and fire for Henderson could have had something to do with the Flyers Cup rankings, which came out earlier, and the players found themselves in ninth, two below the opponent they faced tonight.
“We were all a little ticked off,” said junior Jarrett Slear, who had a hat trick in the game. “It messes with your head mostly. We talked to some of the leaders and we knew we had to turn things around and send a message right away. We weren’t ready to end our season and I think we came out and proved it tonight.”
Henderson fought back in the game after going down by one goal in the first and fought through Unionville tying it up on them twice.