WEST GOSHEN >> It may be a bit of a cliche to title every game an instant classic, whether it truly is or not.
But it will be hard to deny Friday’s Flyers Cup A division final a place at that table. Through three periods and almost four full overtimes, West Chester East and West Chester Rustin played an epic high school ice hockey game that had the standing-room only crowd enthralled.
Despite the dogged resistance from the Vikings. The celebration at the end meant one thing.
“It’s a dynasty,” said a tired but exhilarated Rustin goalie Jason Grande afterward.
Brock Weimer scored off a faceoff with 1:20 left in the fourth overtime to give the Golden Knights a 3-2 victory and their fourth consecutive Flyers Cup championship in the longest game in Cup history.
“My hats off to West Chester East. What a great program, a lot of character,” said Rustin coach Nick Russo. “In the third overtime, I was thinking, whoever wins, I hope it’s a good goal. And it was.”
However, the goal was not without a bit of controversy, as it came after an icing call that West Chester East coach Eric Wolf felt was incorrect.
“About the team, I’m not sure what the word is,” Wolf said on his fellings. “It has something to do with pride and proud of them, but that doesn’t do it justice. I don’t know if we win the game differently, but we deserved a better fate than that on what I believe was a missed call. It’s going to sound like sour grapes, but it was a missed call. It gave them an offensive zone face off and led directly to the winning goal.”
Ian Strasinski won the faceoff cleanly over to Weimer in the high slot, who wristed a shot past East goalie Joe Galitski to end nearly 71 minutes of edge-of-your seat — if you were sitting at all — hockey, and start the celebration, as Weimer was consumed in joy by his teammates. The goal was Weimer’s second straight, as he also had the game-tying tally way back in regulation.
“My linemate Ian Strasinski got it back to me and I fired it right away, and it turned out, it was a goal” said Weimer. “I saw it go in, and I immediately threw my gloves up in the air.”
The other major storyline from the game was the outstanding play from the two netminders — Galitski and Grande. They combined to make 125 saves, and kept the game scoreless from the 9:03 mark of the second period until Weimer’s goal.
Both coaches had high praise for each goalie.
“You had 130 shots on goal, and there were five goals. That’s incredible, it’s ridiculous,” said Wolf. “You have to tip your hat to both goalies, they were tremendous. I wish I could be standing on the other side to watch it and not to be coaching it because I’m sure it was a lot of fun to watch.”
“If Jason was 1A, he (Galitski) was 1B,” added Russo. “What a game.”
Grande was named the MVP of the tournament.
“I’m speechless,” Grande said. “This team has had a lot of adversity, and to pull through like this, after seven periods, its crazy. I just have to think to get the next shot. Keep your head in it and don’t think you’re tired.”
Rustin got on the board way back in the first period, capitalizing on a checking from behind penalty on Dylan McLaughlin, with Matt Owens scoring from in front with 5:19 left. The Golden Knights held a sizable territorial advantage for most of the period, but were unable to turn that into goals.
East got the equalizer just a minute into the second as its power play was winding down. Michael Gray, from a sharp angle, banked a shot off Grande and into the net.
The Vikings took the lead nearly two minutes later. Zac Mulholland threw a pass out in front from deep in the right corner, as Grande was about to play the puck, McLaughlin swooped in and deflected the puck off Grande’s stick into the back of the net,
Rustin’s Weimer scored unassisted off a turnover to start the march into history.
After having so much success, a game of this magnitude can still thrill Russo.
“My first one (Flyers Cup championship) in 2009 … When you have children, your first born is always special. But if this is the baby, it’s not too shabby,” said Russo. “It’s probably the best game I’ve ever been involved in as a coach.”
West Chester Rustin 3, West Chester East 2
West Chester East 0 2 0 0 0 0 – 2
West Chester Rustin 1 1 0 0 0 1 – 0
West Chester East goals: Gray, McLaughlin.
West Chester Rustin goals: Weimer 2, Owens.
Goalie saves: Galitski (WCE) 65, Grande (WCR) 60.