HATFIELD TWP. >> William Tennent coach Nick D’Aurizio kissed his hand and pointed towards the sky as he walked back to his bench after the post-game handshake Monday night.
His day started with the news that Panthers Team President Jim Bagdon had passed away from a number of different health issues he was battling. The day ended with a 2-0 win over No. 1 seed Central Bucks West in the Flyers Cup AA semifinals at Hatfield Ice Arena.
“It’s been a roller coaster emotion week,” D’Aurizio said. “Today started off as bad as it possibly could be and we knew we all had to pull together for Jim. One of the last things Jim said to me was make sure these boys pull together and play for the guy next to them in the locker room. They did that and they’ve been doing that all tournament long. We’re just enjoying the ride. It’s been a fun ride and we know Jim’s with us and watching over us and he’s behind us 100%.”
No. 4 seed Tennent’s defense kept the Bucks from getting anything going offensively. They surrendered 23 shots and each time goaltender Eric Lineman was there to make the save.
“He’s an excellent goalie,” D’Aurizio said. “I don’t think he’s ever really gotten the respect he deserves, but he’s getting it now. Every accolade he gets he deserves 100%. He’s been playing lights out hockey for months now and people are starting to take notice. He deserves every bit of it.”
“(Tennent) played really hard,” CB West coach Dave Baun said. “They kept sticks on the ice. They kept a tight defensive group in front on their net and they blocked a lot of shots. I think they just played really smart and they got good strong goaltending. They did a lot of things right.”
With the great defensive effort, the offense didn’t need to do too much.
Mason McKeever scored the game-winner midway through the second period. Sean Ovington found McKeever in front of the net between the circles and McKeever wasted little time firing the puck home for a 1-0 lead.
The clincher came in the final minute. West pulled its goalie for an extra attacker with just over a minute to play and committed a penalty while playing with the 6-on-5 advantage. The goalie went back into the net and Tennent took advantage of the 5-on-4. Bobby Markus scored this one on another assist from Ovington that sent the Panthers bench into a frenzy with a 2-0 lead and 30 seconds on the clock.
West goaltender Jonah Brous did everything he could to keep his side in the game. He stopped 30 of 32 shots on goal.
“I think Jonah’s performance spoke for itself,” Baun said. “He’s magnificent. I thought he played tremendously and they scored on two goals that were impossible for him to stop. He did very well.”
The Bucks played without two of their top defensemen — captain Shawn Philipps and assistant Brandon Savona — who were injured during the end of their quarterfinal game against Ridley last week.
“I would be dishonest with you if I said that we didn’t wish we had them,” Baun said. “But I don’t think it made a difference to us losing that game. I think William Tennent played really well and they played really clean and they were a credit to their school and a credit to our league and I respect them for what we did. We both had something different to play for tonight and I think we both did our best and I think we made our schools proud.”
Before the game the teams had a moment of silence to honor Bagdon and they met at center ice to shake hands as a sign of good sportsmanship.
Tennent will face No. 3 Downingtown East in the championship — which is currently scheduled for Wednesday at Hatfield Ice Arena at 7 p.m.
The loss brings West’s season to an end.
“I told my players I was sad but it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would,” Baun said, “because I was so proud of the way they played. I was so proud of the way they pulled together and yeah we missed Shawn and we missed Brandon but it didn’t diminish the value of (Tennent’s) win. The way our kids played together, I think they’re going to remember each other forever.”
William Tennent 2, Cental Bucks West 0
William Tennent 0 1 1 — 2
Central Bucks West 0 0 0 — 0
Goals: WT: Mason McKeever, Bobby Markus.
Assists: WT: Sean Ovington 2
Saves: WT: Eric Lineman 23. CBW: Jonah Brous 30.
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