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Top line lifts Downingtown West past Conestoga, into Flyers Cup quarters

WEST GOSHEN >> The Downingtown West ice hockey line of Zach Hanaway, John Michael Owens and Tino DiGiorgio has been the best unit on the team all season. But after Wednesday’s performance against Conestoga, Hanaway is ready for a bolder label for he and his mates.

“I think we’re the best line in the league,” he said.

Evidence of that fact was bourne by looking at the box score. Hanaway racked up five goals and DiGiorgio added two as the sixth-seeded Whippets waltzed into the Flyers Cup AA quarterfinals with an 11-1 victory over Conestoga at Ice Line.

West (13-7-1) advances for a showdown with neighborhood rival Downingtown East tonight.

“We knew that if we played our game we can take care of buisness and they did that,” said West coach Ryan Smith. “They’re struggling, I know their starting goalie is out, so that played a factor in some of the ways that we scored. They’re a good team. There was no quit on that side.”

To beat a favorite, you need to get the breaks, and the bounce of the puck did not favor Conestoga early. Two shots rang off the post that could have given the Pioneers a much-needed lead.

“Sometimes you get bounces, and we got them early tonight, and that translated in goals,” Smith added.

DiGiorgio put West on top almost midway through the first as he scored off a feed from Hanaway. The favor was returned 52 seconds later as DiGiorgio found Hanaway on a 2-on-1. He tapped the puck past ’Stoga goalie Josh Williams for a 2-0 lead.

“Hanaway and DiGiorgio have played together for about 10 years, off-and-on, between high school and travel hockey, and there is a lot of chemistry there,” said Smith. “And Owens, we put them together and they meshed well together.”

Hanaway notched his second of the period in crowd-pleasing fashion. He broke in, one-on-one against a defenseman, but bought himself some time with an inside-out move and ripped a shot to beat Williams to his right side for a 3-0 lead.

“I just had a chance to put a move on, and I did,” said Hanaway. “I caught the puck cleanly.”

John Gusay put the finishing touches on the four-goal first with 1:04 left.

Hannaway, Noah Bebee and Josh Biskowitz added to the Whippets’ lead in the second.

Michael Cameron put the Pioneers (9-6-5) on the board as, standing alone about 10 feet from goalie Eric West, he buried a pass from Will Schnorr into the net.

But, it was far from enough as West made 28 saves in total, flashing a nifty left glove on a number of stops.

Downingtown West scored four more in the second, and brought the proceedings to a halt when Bebee notched his second with 9:50 to go in the third to invoke the 10-goal mercy rule.

Now, West gears up for East. The Whippets will be looking for revenge after the Cougars beat them, 6-2, last week in the Ches-Mont semifinals. East went on to capture the championship following a 3-0 win over West Chester East.

“We played them a few times over the last couple of weeks,” said Smith. It’s a good matchup for us. We know that it’s a tall task. If we do our job and play our best game, we can beat them.”

Downingtown West 11, Conestoga 1
Conestoga        0    1    0 – 1
Downingtown West        4    4    3 – 11
Conestoga goal: Cameron.
Downingtown West goals: Hanaway 5, DiGiorgio 2, Bebee 2, Gusay, Biskowitz.
Goalie saves:  Williams (C) 24, West (DW) 28.

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