ASTON >> Here’s a remarkable stat: Ridley, after a 7-1 victory over Penncrest in Central League action Friday night, has scored 61 goals as a team. Michael Giampapa has scored or assisted on 50 of them.
The 2017 Daily Times Player of the Year has picked up where he left off last year and then some. He is now, somehow, more important than he’s ever been for the Green Raiders (5-4-1-1 overall, 4-2-1-1 Central).
“He’s taken over the team,” Ridley coach Stephane Charbonneau said. “I haven’t seen him have a bad game yet. He plays so well defensively. He finishes checks. He’s the whole team. When he goes, the whole team goes. He’s the heart. It’s as simple as that.”
Speaking of simple, Penncrest coach Steve Mescanti set his game plan on stopping Giampapa.
“Do you want to read it?” he asked following the defeat. “Control #8,” it read.
Easier said than done. Giampapa needed five points to get to 50 on the season. He got the first one out of the way early. Just 47 seconds into the game, Giampapa picked up a loose puck behind the net and wrapped it in before goalie John Mundy could move. In the last minute of the period, Giampapa turned provider, throwing a cross-ice pass to Michael Desio at the back door to make it 2-0.
“He’s a tremendous player and he plays the game the right way,” Mescanti said of Giampapa. “It’s not always dangle and shoot. He moves the puck. We knew if we were going to have success tonight, we had to try and control him.”
All things considered, the Lions (3-6-0-1, 3-5-0-1) did a decent job of that in the first period. Despite giving up two goals, they played the Raiders even, trailing in shots, 7-6. Matt Dougherty hit the crossbar, and Ian McDougall nearly converted a Ridley turnover into a goal with 5:40 left.
Dougherty did himself one better 3:31 into the second, when he cut in on his forehand and knocked Jason Simms’ water bottle from the top of the net.
But Penncrest got no closer than 2-1. Giampapa took over.
He floated a backhand pass to Brett Dunning, who fired a shot stick side to make it 3-1. Giampapa then added a shorthanded goal with 57 seconds left in the frame.
“I don’t feel pressure (to score),” Giampapa said. “I just come and work and see what happens. When the game comes, get the bounces and get pucks to the net.”
It’s not just his offense, either. Because he’s so good with his stick, Giampapa forces opponents to make quick decisions. They often fumble the puck or turn it over when they feel his presence. So it went on the shorty. Giampapa picked off an ill-advised pass and converted on his backhand.
“Our first thought was to try and shadow him,” said Mescanti. “The problem is they roll him out over and over. He’s got tremendous endurance.”
Giampapa’s teammates have followed suit. Eric Miller did a pretty good impression of his captain in the first minute of the third period. Starting from his own blue line, he skated the length of the rink and ripped a slap shot high glove side from the top of the circle to push the score to 5-1.
“I love it,” said Giampapa. “Eric Miller’s goal, that was unreal. Not a lot of guys can do that.”
It was a rare goal that Giampapa didn’t factor in, but he made up for it. Point number 50 came with the man-advantage. He fought through a check on a one-on-one and beat the goaltender with a deke.
“I learned to get used to it, constantly getting slashed and hit,” Giampapa said. “Now it feels like it’s part of the game. I just have to work through it.”
He’s done a pretty good job of that thus far.
Brian Lefkof added a late goal to complete the scoring, another contribution from a role player. The Green Raiders will need more of that if they hope to replicate past seasons’ postseason successes.
“We just got to keep working hard for the playoffs,” said Giampapa. “Playoffs is the main thing.”
The pursuit of a outlandish point total — can he get to 100? 50 goals? — is secondary.
“Mike doesn’t care about the points,” Charbonneau said. “We worry about the team, and that’s number one. We know he’ll get his points; it’s about the leadership.”
Also in the Central League:
Radnor 6, Garnet Valley 2 >> Jake Rader recorded a hat trick, and Luc VonCzoernig tallied two goals and an assist as the Raiders scored the game’s final five goals.
Landers Masterson dished two assists, and Jack Hamilton also lit the lamp. Harris Brotman made 29 saves for Radnor.
Matthew Wood tallied a goal and an assist, and Hunter Baar also tallied for Garnet Valley.
Conestoga 5, Strath Haven 2 >> Ryan Spanier and Liam Carney scored off feeds from Mike Irey, and Lukas Bernaus made 34 saves, but the Pioneers pulled away late in the third.
Frank Konopasek, Mike Cameron and Will Schnorr scored late to salt away a game that was 2-1 in Stoga’s favor until the late outburst.
In the PCL Blue:
Archbishop Carroll 2, Archbishop Wood 1 >> Jake Swayze set up goals by Tyreese Walker and Jason Zambella in the first two periods, and Jacob George made 34 saves between the pipes to make those markers stand up for a victory.
Cardinal O’Hara 9, Lansdale Catholic 0 >> John Paul Ahearn scored twice and handed out three assists, and Liam McCanney paired two goals with two helpers as the Lions rolled.
Jacob Pohlig scored twice to go with an assist, and Zac Deemer contributed a goal and an assist to the onslaught. Tim Truax and Brendan McGroary also scored for O’Hara.
In crossover action:
Spring-Ford 2, Haverford 1 >> Dante Gattone opened the scoring in the first period with an unassisted tally, but two goals by Joey Temoyan — the last at 2:43 of the third — gave the Rams the victory, in spite of 31 saves from Haverford’s Tyler Cassidy.
Radnor 8, W.C. East 3 >> Lindsey Coffey scored four goals, including three times in a five-goal third period, to help Radnor skate away victoriously. Sophie Samaha, Anne Burton, Lauren Rader and Lucy Van Kula also scored for the Raiders, and Tessa Landry made 18 shots in goal.
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