WEST GOSHEN >> Erin Bonner was exhausted and no one could blame her. She and third-seeded West Chester East had played 66 minutes of hockey against No. 2 Radnor in the Flyers Cup semifinals Thursday night at Ice Line.
The Vikings outshot the Raiders 70-9 in the game, 15-1 in the two overtime periods. They had tried everything to break the deadlock and Bonner was at wit’s end. So, on the last shift of the night, she did the only thing she could do: she threw a puck on net from a bad angle. It somehow squeaked through Radnor goalie Tessa Landry’s pads.
“We’re in double OT,” said Bonner. “Everyone is tired. I just did what we were trying to do all game, get a puck on net.”
It was Bonner’s fifth goal of the game. It would have come sooner, too, if not for the heroics of Landry. The Radnor net minder made a staggering 64 saves, 50 in the last two periods and overtimes. Landry’s best stop came two minutes into the first extra session. Bonner came in on a breakaway, only to be denied by Landry’s blocker side.
“It hit the top of my stick,” said Landry. “Lucky save.”
The Vikings simply could not find a winner.
“You have to keep it a team game,” East’s Kristin Eland said of fighting off frustration. “You can’t win as an individual.”
Eland started the play on the winning goal. After hitting the post in the second overtime, she was in search of her own redemption. Hunched over from fatigue, she lugged the puck into the Raiders’ zone. It eventually landed on Bonner’s stick and in the back of the net.
“You’re tired when you’re playing,” said Bonner. “Once it’s over, the exhaustion just sets in. You can barely walk.”
The opening 10 minutes of the game hinted at a close finish if not the long scoring drought that dominated the latter stages. East scored three times in the first 5 minutes, 21 seconds, two from Bonner and one from Jennifer Porter. But Radnor answered with Lindsey Coffey, who as a smooth-skating, right-handed shot defenseman looked every bit the part of her NHL Hall of Fame namesake, Paul. Coffey scored on four coast-to-coast rushes to bring her season total to 48 goals, equaling Paul Coffey’s single-season NHL record.
In the second period, the freshman Raider did Paul one better. She won a neutral zone face-off forward and beat Nicole Pastorino with a backhand. This tied the game at five after Bonner struck twice more in the frame.
The Vikings’ plan to win was simple in name yet tough in practice: stop Coffey.
“It was tough,” said Eland. “You’ve just got to stay in front of her and shut her down.”
In the end, Coffey ran out of energy. She had given her best at both ends of the ice — she blocked at least a dozen shots playing alongside her sister Lauren.
Pinned in its own zone, Radnor failed to muster an attack in either of the two overtimes. Still, Landry was grateful for the effort, even as she stood on her head.
“No, I haven’t,” she responded when asked if she had ever been in a game like this. “It’s overwhelming. I’m glad my team kept me in it.”
East gets the victory but little rest or reward: the Vikings will play top-ranked and undefeated Unionville in the finals Friday night. Eland, however, savored the moment.
“This is the best feeling,” she said, “playing for a championship with your teammates.”
In the night’s other semifinal:
UNIONVILLE 9, DOWNINGTOWN EAST 0 >> Unionville steamrolled all its opponents all season, before being tested by Downingtown West in the ICSHL final. In their first game of the Flyers Cup on Thursday, the Indians went back to setamrolling mode.
Madison Doucette and Kaitlyn Anderson had three goals each in a 9-0 win over Downingtown East in the semifinals at Ice Line.
The top-seeded Indians will face No. 2 West Chester East in the championship on Friday at Ice Line. Unionville will go for its second straight title.
Claie Donovan scored twice in 13 seconds late in the first for a 2-0 lead, and the Indians were never threatened. Doucette scored twice and Anderson once in the second. They reversed that in the third. Kaelen Speck added a goal for the final margin.
Unionville held a whopping 90-4 shots on goal advantage. Emma Shannon made 81 stops for the Cougars. McKenzie Myers was called on for just four saves for Unionville.