Matt Dougherty lifts Penncrest in 5OT thriller

ASTON >> The Flyers Cup A first-round game between No. 8 Penncrest and No. 9 Plymouth Whitemarsh looked like it was over a couple of different times.

The Colonials appeared to have the game won with a three-goal lead with 11 minutes left. Then the Lions looked to have it sealed when they led by a goal and had a power play with less than ten seconds to play.

All wrong.

Then, it looked like the game was never going to end.

That was, until sophomore Matt Dougherty tallied his fourth goal of the game in the fifth overtime to lift Penncrest to a 5-4 win Tuesday night at Ice Works in Aston.

“It’s one where no matter how it comes out, you’re going to feel bad for whoever winds up on the short end,” Penncrest coach Steve Mescanti said, “because both teams laid it all out there and played their heart out tonight. Unfortunately, somebody has to lose.”

Dougherty caught a floating puck in the offensive end, placed it down and ripped a wrister into the back of the net to end the 88-minute and 42-second marathon.

“This is the first high school playoff game I’ve won,” Dougherty said. “It’s awesome. I wasn’t expecting it to be this long, especially after they scored with two seconds left. (The feeling) was just relief – it’s over. We deserved it, especially with the shot totals (53-27 in favor of Penncrest).”

Dougherty was also the driving force behind Penncrest’s third-period comeback. The Lions surrendered a goal with 11:26 to play to fall behind 3-0.

The sophomore scored 40 seconds later to bring the deficit to two and again with 4:57 remaining to cut it in half to one. With 2:03 remaining, Dougherty found Jack Fletcher for the game-tying goal. Just over a minute later, Dougherty scored again with what appeared to be the game-winner.

“Matt is an extremely talented player,” Mescanti said. “He has the ability to take over games at times and he has the ability to just become a force in all three zones. And when he does that, he elevates the level of everyone around him.”

“Whenever we start to play well, we really pick up,” Dougherty said. “So even though it was only about an eight-minute span, we played really well. If we played like that all game, it wouldn’t have been that long, but we didn’t start well.”

Not so fast.

Plymouth Whitemarsh pulled its goalie with 33 seconds remaining when it was called for a penalty. J.J. Eisenlohr found a way to knock the puck home with 1.9 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

“I think they got complacent,” PW coach Victor Novelli said of his team. “3-0 lead in the worst lead in hockey – I think everybody will tell you that. They came back with three quick goals and we got lucky to put one in there with one second left.”

“We didn’t have much time left after we scored the (fourth) goal,” Dougherty said. “So we were a little more relaxed than we should have been and we turned the puck over. They went in and had a couple shots and we couldn’t do much about it.”

The Colonials built their 3-0 lead with a pair of quick goals in the second period and one in the beginning of the third. Eisenlohr and Chris Rinaldi scored goals within 30 seconds of each other to make it a 2-0 game and Rinaldi added another with 11:26 left in the third.

Both goalies made big saves to keep the game going for so long. PW’s Cole Shula finished with 48 saves and Penncrest’s Mark Dumont tallied 23.

“The goalie stepped up,” Novelli said. “Cole Shula played the best game he’s played ever in his life. It was amazing.”

It was a big night for PW’s penalty kill. The unit killed six penalties – twice drawing penalties themselves to make it 4-on-4 and they also scored a short-handed goal (plus an extra attacker for a pulled goalie) to tie the game in the final two seconds of regulation.

Penncrest will face No. 1 W.C. East Friday in the second round. East, which is coached by former longtime Penncrest coach Eric Wolf, had a first-round bye.

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