Radnor bounces back to edge Strath Haven

HAVERFORD >> With a short bench, the last thing a hockey team wants to do is take penalties.

Radnor faced that challenge Thursday night at the Skatium against Strath Haven and failed immediately.

Coach Brett Skalski forgot the league-mandated score-sheet stickers at home, and so the Raiders, already down two defensemen due to club commitments, started the game shorthanded.

“We had a short bench,” Skalski said of the gaffe. “But hey, no one gets tired right off the bat.”

That rest, however brief, proved crucial as Radnor escaped with a 4-3 victory.

Clayton Proctor, in particular, appreciated the breather. He hardly left the ice. Proctor lined up at center to the start the game, moved back to the blue line when his linemates shifted, killed penalties and played the point on the power play. The result was a two-goal, one-assist night and another statement that he’s one of the league’s best conditioned, not to mention skilled, players.

But Skalski knew he would get that kind of performance. What shocked him was Proctor’s lone sojourn to the pine in the third period.

“I was even surprised he came to the bench at all,” Skalski said. “Clayton’s kind of like an assistant coach out on the ice. If I ask him if he’s good, and he says he’s good, I believe him.”

Proctor’s extended minutes put a difficult burden on Panthers’ coach Matt Chandik. It’s tough to match lines when the opponent plays against everybody.

“That’s the frustrating part. We put together the scouting reports,” Chandik explained. “I know Clayton, he’s a great lacrosse player and he’s a goal scorer. He knows how to score goals. It’s just a question of focus and remembering.

‘There’s (No.) 9, I have to worry about his shot.’”

Proctor displayed that shot early in the first. After Strath Haven took the lead through a Liam Carney power-play goal, the Raiders’ senior beat Lukas Bernaus high with a wicked wrist shot through a screen.

“I just saw the goalie was untested,” Proctor said. “We had to get shots on him.”

That marker came just 32 seconds after Carney’s opener, and it put the hosts on the front foot. Jack Hamilton gave Radnor an advantage before the period was out with a short-side shot. Proctor picked up an assist.

In the second, he doubled the lead. Manning the blue line, Proctor pounced on a loose puck that the Panthers failed to clear out of the zone. A hopeful wrister eluded legs and the goalie to make it 3-1.

Down two without much to show offensively, the Panthers countered by riding their own stars as Mike Irey joined Ryan Lowe on the top line. The move, and a good dose of fatigue, tilted the ice in Haven’s favor. There was a little luck too. Raiders’ defenseman Anthony Laudicina broke his stick trying to throw a pass, leaving Lowe alone with Harris Brotman. He fired a low shot past the blocker to jump start the Panthers with 1:35 to play in the second.

“We got a little bit lucky with the broken stick,” said Chandik. “I think it woke our team up a bit.”

Six minutes into the third, they were tied, Ryan Spanier jamming one home off of Carney’s rush.

But if Radnor sagged, it didn’t sink. Proctor kept the Lowe-Irey duo at bay as time ticked down.

“I just knew I had to time when I really was going to push it against those two forwards,” he said, “and make sure I was always keeping an eye on Lowe.”

As Haven continued to hold a shot advantage — it ended 35-23 in favor of the visitors — the Raiders cashed in one of their few breaks. D.J. Sucher collected his own rebound and flipped in a back-hander with 6:00 on the clock.

It was far from over, though, especially when Radnor was whistled for two penalties on a single shift.

“Really, I was just telling my guys, if the puck’s on your stick, it’s got to be out of the zone,” said Proctor of his team’s three-on-five strategy. “When there was a puck battle, it had to be won.”

Proctor drew a slashing call before the Panthers could get settled, which negated one penalty. The Raiders (4-4-3, 3-4-2 Central) killed the other. Only a Lowe post threatened the result.

“Five-on-three with the skill on our first unit, it’s something you’re going to take your chances with,” said Chandik. “If I go down, I’m going down with my studs. It happens. They’re going to deliver on another night.”

Strath Haven (3-4-1, 2-3-1) is in firm position to make the playoffs but would like to improve its seeding. The Panthers are young and look it at times. That was the difference, mainly with the Proctor factor.

“It was tough, but it was kind of a routine game. We’ve been short-benched the entire season,” Proctor said. “We’re kind of hitting mid-season form here. Luckily I was able to stay out there that long.”

In crossover action:

Archbishop Carroll 12, Bishop Shanahan 2 >> Ian Myers lit the lamp five times, and Matthew Strofe dished six assists to go with a marker as the Patriots rolled.

Jason Zambella paired a goal with three assists, and Izy Seamen paired two goals with a helper.

Girls Hockey

Maddy O’Malley recorded a hat trick and Rachel Craig collected two goals and two assists, but Garnet Valley let slip a late three-goal lead in an 8-8 tie with Lower Merion.

Alana Lamplugh and Jennifer Goldstein scored a goal and an assist each for GV.

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