HATFIELD TWP >> By the time Luca Pisani snapped a wrist shot over the right shoulder of William Tennent goalie Eric Lineman in the opening minute of the third period, it was all but assured that Downingtown East would be skating around with the Flyers Cup for the second time in three years, pulling away to a 8-3 win over the Panthers in the AA Final Wednesday night at packed Hatfield Ice.
“This team’s awesome. I love these boys,” said forward Alex Fox, whose hat trick helped the Cougars blow the game open. “We had some struggles in the beginning of the season but this whole tournament, we came together and just played awesome.”
The third-seeded Cougars, Flyers Cup Champions for the third time in their history, took a 6-2 lead into the third and added goals by Pisani and Collin Harple to make the victory that much more decisive. Jack McKeever scored his second goal of the night for Tennent to close things out.
“I knew very well it could be my last game as a high school player,” said McKeever of senior-loaded Tennent. “All of the seniors and all of my teammates went out with everything we had. It wasn’t enough in the end.”
Fox hat the hat trick and Pisani added a pair of goals in stopping fourth-seeded Tennent one win shy of its first Flyers Cup championship since 1989 (AAA).
It looked good early for the Panthers.
Tennent was allowed only four first-period shots, but one of them was a power-play goal by Chris Kreider, who redirected a shot by Sean Ovington through a maze of legs and sticks for a 1-0 Panther lead.
Said Kreider: “We were definitely feeling on top of the world, no doubt. But then unfortunately, reality set in.”
The Cougars, out-shooting Tennent 14-4 in the first, would even things up early in the second, a goal by Fox — who slapped in a nice cross pass by Eric Stankiewicz — making it 1-1.
This set off a combined four goals by both teams in a span of five minutes.
The Panthers regained the lead on an unassisted goal by McKeever but then East quickly tied it up again, with Harrison Layne setting up Michael Bolger.
East began to dominate possession, and with a power play the Cougars quickly pushed ahead for the first time, a goal by Pisani making it 3-2.
Fox then weaved through defenders and took it all the way in himself, knocking a shot past Lineman to stretch the margin to 4-2. Four lines deep and with speed all over the ice, East was tough to keep up with.
“Everything just came together tonight,” Fox said. “In the second period we kind of took off.”
“They had speed, they had size,”McKeever said of the Cougars, “and they weren’t afraid to get physical.”
Lineman kept it a two-goal game as long as he could, but with a 35-9 advantage in shots by the end of the second period, East began to pull away. C.J. Boyd found his way to the net as did Fox, who completed a hat trick with three minutes to go in the second, inflating the lead to 6-2.
Pisani got the scoring — and soon the celebration — started in the third.
“I’m proud of everybody,” Fox said. “Now we go to states. Hope to get that and then we’re off to Nationals. Trying to win ’em all.”