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Slater’s OT goal sends Pennridge past North Penn in Flyers Cup AA quarterfinals

Pennridge’s Bryson Egan looks to pass near North Penn’s Ryan Cunningham during their Flyers Cup AA quarterfinal on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Gene Walsh/MediaNews Group)

HATFIELD TWP. >> Eric Slater scored less than four minutes into overtime and sent the Pennridge ice hockey team into the Flyers Cup AA semifinals as the fourth-seeded Rams edged No. 5 North Penn in their quarterfinal contest Monday night at Hatfield Ice.

“It’s pretty nervous, you’re just looking for one play,” Slater said. “And we got it – fortunately.”

Slater finished with two goals and assist – his second tally in OT coming at 12:35 as Pennridge advance to face top-seeded Downingtown East 6:15 p.m. Thursday at IceLine in West Chester for a spot in the final.

“If we’re going to win it, mostly likely, he’s going to win it for us,” Rams coach Jeff Montagna said. “It’s about the one of the few times they gave him the lane in the middle of that ice in the offensive zone that entire game. So picked a good time to do it.”

Nathan Oh collected a hat trick for North Penn, his third goal pulling the Knights level 3-3 with 2:15 remaining in the third. North Penn pressured early in the overtime but ultimately could not unlock to the key to besting the Rams this year.

“Overtime hockey, you know sometimes it always comes down to a puck bouncing the right way and that’s what happened tonight,” North Penn coach Kevin Vaitis said. “We had a lot of pressure there, number of chances in overtime we just couldn’t capitalize.”

In the four matchups between the SHSHL Continental rivals, Pennridge went 3-0-1 with the Rams earning three straight wins – two by one goal – after a 4-4 tie in their first meeting Nov. 8.

“Every game this season has been close and it’s been fun battling all season,” Slater said. “It’s good to get on top of that last one.”

North Penn’s Tyler Greenstein looks to shoot during the Knights’ Flyers Cup AA quarterfinal against Pennridge on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Gene Walsh/MediaNews Group)

Oh had the Knights’ best opportunity in OT trying to stuff in a puck at the right post but Pennridge goalkeeper Luke Stranick was able to reach back and deny Oh with his glove.

The Rams scored the winner after a bit of sustained possession in the Knights’ zone, Matthew Guinette getting the puck to a cutting Slater, who navigated around a NP player then unleashed a shot that found the back of the net.

“Matt got it at the point, Guinette, and I was just trying to drive to the net and gave me a perfect pass, made a move and just shot it,” Slater said. “Hoped for the best and it went in.”

Oh opened Monday’s scoring as he finished a rush after a faceoff from within the Knights’ own zone with a goal at 8:21 in the first period.

“That’s a set play we have off the draw,” Vaitis said. “With his speed, open ice there, if we can play the puck ahead and he can just outrace guys. And that’s what he did and he put a beautiful shot right over Stranick’s shoulder there.”

Pennridge’s Eric Slater receives a pass during the Rams’ Flyers Cup AA quarterfinal against North Penn on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Gene Walsh/MediaNews Group)

Slater pulled the Rams level shortly after, ripping in a shot on a 2-on-1 at 6:24.

“We didn’t play a great first period,” Montagna said. “They were on us – that team’s quick and they’re deep and they were on us. It was slow start, we were lucky to get out there with a tie.”

Pennridge grabbed the lead just 1:03 into the second period as Michael Walker struck at 14:57 after cutting across the NP zone and getting a shot by NP goalie Nicholas Ebbinghaus.

The Rams looked like they were going to carry the 2-1 lead into the third, but Oh knotted things with his second goal at 53.6 seconds.

Pennridge finally broke the tie with 5:17 left in regulation on the power play as Blake Stewart redirected a Slater one-timer into the net.

Oh, however, sent the contest into OT by completing his hat trick at 2:16, Albano sliding a pass back to Oh wristed a puck past Stranick.

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