WEST GOSHEN >> Radnor was zoning in on its second upset of the Flyers Cup A playoffs when the wheels fell off Wednesday at Ice Line.
West Chester East erupted for three goals in 2 minutes, 2 seconds to turn a one-goal deficit into a 4-2 semifinal triumph, setting up a championship classic with arch-rival West Chester Rustin.
“It’s a big win,” said junior Dylan McLaughlin, who contributed one goal and one assist in the decisive third-period flurry. “Everyone’s really excited. Everyone wanted Rustin on Friday. It’s going to be a big game, scrappy, high intensity, big turnout. It will be a fun game.”
Three-time defending champion Rustin beat Hershey, 5-1, in the other semifinal Wednesday to set up the 6:45 p.m. final Friday at Ice Line. With East claiming the A title in 2013 and Rustin in 2012, the schools have combined to win the last five A championships.
East might have been looking ahead to the rematch of the Ches-Mont playoff they won this season.
The game began at 8:47 p.m., or if you prefer, right around early bed time for the well represented Baby Boomers in attendance.
East dominated play, outshooting the Raiders 12-3 in the first period.
But it only takes one chance and the Raiders, with the extra man thanks to a hooking penalty, scored on their third and final shot of the period, senior Donald Sucher wristing the puck home from the right circle on a feed from Lyle Rutty.
The lead lasted a couple minutes into the second frame, Michael Eland knotting the contest for the Vikings.
The Raiders stepped up their forechecking in the second period and it showed everywhere but on the scoreboard.
The Raiders outshot East, 9-6, in the frame. East goalie Joseph Galitski came up big on a Luke Winnick breakaway, refusing to let one slip under his skate.
The Raiders, however, almost were running on fumes. They dressed 13 players to 20 for the Vikings.
After Jack Miles’ power play goal in the third period gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead, the Vikings went to work. The end came quickly for Radnor.
“We knew it was going to be a tall order to beat them,” Raiders coach Brett Skalski said. “We were confident. We’re a small roster, we don’t have a lot of depth but all the guys work together and we just kind of stick to the game plan and stay with it no matter how long it takes. And it’s worked up until about 7 minutes left to go in the game. I think our smaller roster just kind of ran out of gas at the end of the game. ”
The Vikings’ run consisted of rapid-fired goals from Eddie Russell, Richard Mullineaux and McLaughlin, who was flying around the ice. Just like that, the game was over. It was as if someone lobbed a hand grenade at Raiders goalie Harris Brotman.
“Energy isn’t Dylan’s problem,” Vikings coach Eric Wolf said. “He’s got a lot of energy. He’s a highly skilled player. We kind of say we want the adrenaline and the crowd to fuel us, not rule us. And at times it ruled us. But in that third period, it really fueled us. We were able to put the hammer down.
“Give (Radnor) credit for stifling us. That’s exactly what they did. There was some frustration there. We felt we had some opportunities. I think we need to do a better job of moving the puck. I think we thought we could take them one-on-one too much. After we started moving the puck better the chances came our way a little more and we started converting.”
The Raiders upset third-seeded Penncrest to reach the semis, a victory Skalski says they can hang their head gear on.
“The fact that we got here, I’m really proud of these guys,” Skalski said. “It’s been a very good season. I think these guys have worked their butts off all year. They deserved to be in this game.”
The Vikings, on the other hand, figure to be more amped when they take on Rustin — for obvious reasons.
“It’s a border war,” Wolf said. “You throw the records out. It means a lot to both teams. But we also know what they’re going for. That’s not lost on us. Honestly I don’t feel the pressure’s on us. Everybody is expecting them to win.”
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