Two years ago, Strath Haven lost by 10 in the Central League quarterfinals. Thursday night, the Panthers will play for the title.
Mike Irey scored his fourth goal in two games to send Strath Haven into the championship game with a 3-2 win over Penncrest.
The Panthers will take on Springfield in the final at IceWorks Thursday night at 7:30.
“It’s amazing, especially in my senior year,” said Haven captain Ryan Lowe. “It’s been a great ride.”
Lowe assisted on Irey’s opening goal, which came just 47 seconds into the second period. The duo has now combined for 95 points this season. But the Lions’ own high powered line provided an answer. Samuel Clapinson tied things up with Austin Mazzulo and Matt Dougherty picking up assists.
That goal added insult to injury for the Panthers. Lowe got clipped in the neutral zone prior to the scoring rush. He stayed on the ice and eventually limped off. But this is playoff hockey and few ailments hold players back. Lowe returned in time to see his brother Trevor put Haven back in front.
Zack Zarko added an insurance marker in the third. Dougherty solved Bernaus with just under six minutes to play, but the Panthers’ goaltender stopped everything else.
“We’re all playing well,” Lowe said. “Me and Mike (Irey) will put goals in, everyone else has been keeping them out.”
Penncrest (11-6-3) will head to the A Flyers Cup as the No. 3 seed. Strath Haven (10-7-3) gets a short rest before playing the Cougars.
In the PCL Blue:
Cardinal O’Hara 4, Father Judge 3 >> John Paul Ahearn scored twice to send the top-seeded Lions into Thursday’s championship game against second-seeded Archbishop Ryan at the Skatium.
Ahearn had a goal in the first period and another in the second period to stake O’Hara to a 4-1 lead.
Archbishop Ryan 6, Archbishop Carroll 3 >> The Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead and took a 4-1 lead into the final period.
Anthony Nicholas had two goals and one assist for the Patriots.