HATFIELD TWP. >> No. 2 Holy Ghost Prep defeated No. 1 La Salle, 5-3, in the Flyers Cup AAA championship game Monday night in front of a sellout crowd at Hatfield Ice.
The Firebirds went into the third period with a 4-0 lead. La Salle got two goals from Jack McDonough and one from Ethan Lamond to cut its deficit to one with 9:22 remaining.
The Explorers pulled their goalie while on the powerplay with 1:20 left in the game to get a 6-on-4 advantage. Ghost’s Jarod Crespo scored with 11 seconds left to ice the game, 5-3.
“We were getting a little nervous,” Ghost goalie and Flyers Cup MVP Tristan Devine said. “You always have to imagine the worst can happen, but you always have to stay positive at the same time. Finally sealed the deal with (Crespo’s goal). That sealed it all off for us.”
“I think they played a great game,” La Salle coach Walter Muehlbronner said. “Ghost played great. They dictated the play, scored some really good goals, they were fast – they played the kind of game we like to play, honestly. We didn’t give up. I honestly believed we were going to come back and win the third period. That was our approach going into the third – if we just get one goal we’re going to do it. That was our belief and we finished hard. We gave it a good run and put them on their heels for a little bit. It was a little too late.”
The Firebirds first three goals all came with a man in the penalty box – twice when it was one of their own players.
They took the lead with 5:06 left in the first period. Luke Ledes fired a shot on net that was stopped, but Luke Aquaro was there to clean it up for the powerplay goal and a 1-0 Ghost lead.
The Firebirds added another less than two minutes later. Jack Smiley broke free on a penalty kill and ripped a wrist shot into the back of the net to double the lead and head into the first intermission up 2-0.
La Salle killed off a 2-minute 5-on-3 in the beginning of the second period and appeared to grab some momentum when the Firebirds committed a penalty.
But Holy Ghost Prep got another short-handed goal. Timothy Wolfe extended the lead to 3-0 less than three minutes into the second period.
“We just did some things tonight that we really haven’t done all year,” Muehlbronner said. “Whether that’s the way Ghost played – I think they played great – but we just made some mistakes – they capitalized. I don’t know how many odd-man rushes we gave up. They did a great job. Not much more I can say other than that.”
Aquaro scored his second of the game late in the second to make it 4-0. Ledes flicked a puck to center ice, just over a jumping La Salle defender. Aquaro grabbed the puck, pulled it around a defender at the circle and lit the lamp.
Holy Ghost Prep 5, La Salle 3
Holy Ghost Prep 2 2 1 — 5
La Salle 0 0 3 — 3
Goals: HGP: Aquaro 2, Smiley, Wolfe, Jarod Crespo. LS: McDonough, Lamond.
Assists: HGP: Ledes 2, Jacob Crespo, Babst. LS: Clark, Mancuso 2, DalFarra.
Saves: HGP: Devine: 22. LS: Affel: 18.
Top Photo: La Salle starts the game with a rush towards the Holy Ghost Prep goal during the Flyers Cup AAA championship on Monday, March 20, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)