HAVERFORD >> In the aftermath of Haverford’s 6-5 victory over Springfield at the Skatium, which ended the Cougars’ undefeated record in the Central League, Fords coach John Povey joked that he wished he had his coach’s challenge.
Although it didn’t affect the final result, a second-period goal created a stir. Springfield trailed 4-2 with 18 seconds on the clock when Thomas Yocum threw a puck to the net. The Cougars swarmed the crease, knocking back Haverford goaltender Tyler Cassidy in the process. Dan Barrett, after the shot bounced off his leg, poked in the rebound as Cassidy fell on his back. The official signaled a goal right away. The Fords were irate.
“None of us liked it,” Haverford captain Dante Gattone said. “Actually, it made us mad.”
John Scarduzio took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, seemingly for arguing the call, but even he settled down in intermission.
“We have to have a short memory about that stuff and just keep going,” Scarduzio said.
The Fords responded in style. They killed off the Springfield power play and scored twice in quick succession. Gattone fired a wrist shot low blocker to restore the two-goal lead. Two minutes and change later, Daniel Quartapella buried a rebound.
“I’ve tried to teach my team, adversity is going to come your way,” Povey said. “It was a pretty crucial moment. Things aren’t always going to go your way. Credit to my team.”
Haverford wouldn’t be denied on a night the hosts controlled from the start. They outshot the Cougars, 41-24 for the game, 16-6 in the first period alone. Springfield had lost three of four following a 13-0 start, but none of those defeats came in the Central. The Fords had that on their mind.
“We were in the same boat last year, going into the last game of the year undefeated in the Central League (then losing),” Povey said. “That’s a pretty tough feat to do. Why don’t we be the spoiler?”
Barrett struck first to spot the Cougars an early lead with the help of Kevin Brown. Brown returned to the lineup after a long absence and was effective, sparking an offense that had run into trouble. But Haverford, as they did later in the game, responded. Shane Liney knotted things at one 8:34 at a time when the Fords held a 10-2 advantage in shots. Daniel Morris put them ahead when he snuck into the slot to fire high glove side on Lachlan Plummer.
Even when the Cougars tied it at two 1:47 into the second — Barrett’s second, this one on the power play — Haverford kept coming. Henry DeVoe answered 13 seconds after Barrett. Scarduzio followed with a wrist shot from the point that deflected off a Springfield stick. At each stop, the Fords had a response.
“Just positivity on the bench,” said Scarduzio of Haverford’s resilience. “We didn’t get down on each other tonight.”
“We knew what they’re capable of doing,” added Gattone. “We had to match it. We kept pushing.”
Gattone finished with a goal and three assists, Scarduzio with one and two. Factoring in Quartapella’s and Devoe’s goals, the Fords’ top four scorers all found the back of the net.
“It’s huge,” Scarduzio said. “None of use were really all clicking at the same time. If we pick it up now, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
The Cougars were that team a little more than a month ago. Now? Not so much.
“We have to work on our defense,” Barrett said. “We keep messing with it in our zone and they’re taking their opportunities.”
There were some positives. Brown marked his return with a fine solo goal in the third, pulling the puck through his legs before tucking it five-hole. And Yocum scored with two seconds to play to make it 6-5. But his dismissive celebration epitomized a team seeking, and not finding, answers. Then again, the new season starts Monday. And Springfield (14-3, 13-1) has the top seed in the Central South. The Cougars will face Radnor, No. 4 in the North.
“I think it’s better that we got it out of the way now,” said Barrett of the loss. “We know we’re up for the challenge.”
The Fords, on the other hand, enter the postseason a confident group.
“It’s pretty reassuring,” Gattone said. “Tonight, we all came ready and took it to them.”
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