Malvern’s Hollingshead frustrates O’Hara

WEST CHESTER >> A “C” on a goaltender is a rare sight. Then again, so is a first-star performance from one in a blowout. Netminder Matthew Hollingshead, Malvern Prep’s senior captain, saved the Friars early and kept them ahead late in a 6-1 Flyers Cup AAA quarterfinal win over Cardinal O’Hara.

Hollingshead was never bigger for No. 4 Malvern than in the first eight minutes and change of the first period. The Lions, seeded fifth after winning the Philadelphia Catholic League-Blue Division, came out firing with the game’s first five shots and seven of the first eight. Hollingshead turned them all aside, no stop better than the last in that sequence of dominance.

“He made some nice saves,” said Friars’ winger Nick DeSantis. “He’s a real captain right here. That save he made on the rebound was amazing. It got us really pumped up. That was a real momentum changer.”

The save in question came at the 8:20 mark of the first period. Jacob Pohlig challenged Hollingshead on a half breakaway. He fired low to the far pad, creating a rare rebound from Hollingshead, and leaving Justin Boornazian with a clean look at the net.

“I knew they had a trailer,” explained Hollingshead. “Smart play, threw it far pad. I just made a power push to get back and threw the blocker out and got a piece of it.”

It was the best of his 33 saves, and it all but stalled the Lions’ upset bid.

“I think our guys did a great job battling, working hard, and creating chances and good scoring opportunities,” said O’Hara interim head coach Bob Lynch. “I think their goaltender did a heck of a job. It was a great performance by him.”

True to his word, DeSantis soon put Malvern in front. He stuffed a Nick Martino feed past Angelo Losardo on the power play to give the Friars a 1-0 lead with just over six minutes to play in the first. Nick Fantini doubled the advantage before the period was up on a similar play. He drove wide and threw a puck on the net that deflected up and in.

DeSantis added his second of the night 4:21 into the second, when he picked off a Lions’ pass and buried a shot high over Losardo’s glove. That came shorthanded.

“It was a nice read,” said DeSantis. “It started from a nice dump in from my team. I read it, and put a good shot on.”

It was also a sign of O’Hara’s struggles. The Lions went 0-for-6 on the man advantage. Hollingshead was mostly to blame.

“It was just hard,” said Lions captain Nick Donato, “facing a better goaltender than what we’ve seen all year.”

But down 3-0, O’Hara wasn’t done. Zac Deemer pulled one back for the Lions with a smart shot to the near post. Then Hollingshead showed his mettle—and leadership—on the following play. John Paul Ahearn came in on a break away only to be thwarted by Hollingshead’s shoulder. It’s the kind of save that earns a “C”— big moment, big stop.

“I’m thinking oh, crap,” recalled Hollingshead. “I knew he was coming down alone so I tried to get out of the net, stay big, and make the save.”

A little more than a minute later, DeSantis got his hat trick off a nice feed from Charlie Andress. Malvern rolled from there. Stephen D’Elia scored early in the third, then Justin Gordon finished off a tic-tac-toe play where DeSantis whiffed on a shot—when it’s going good, it’s going good.

Still, the offensive onslaught was made possible by the goaltender. Hollingshead collected nine more saves in the final frame to see off O’Hara (13-6-0).

The Lions will feel disappointed with the result. They outshot the Friars 34-29 and hoped to build on last week’s title and undefeated trek through the league.

“We played well,” said Donato. “We just got outplayed. They did the little things right.”

With a young squad, O’Hara will be back.

“I think that experience (being) undefeated in the regular season and winning the championship is going to be huge for our young guys,” said Lynch. “Now they know what hard work does and what the payoff is. Hopefully that will mean good things for years to come.”

Malvern, on the other hand, will travel to Hatfield on Tuesday to take on top-seeded La Salle in the semifinals. The Friars will need to follow Hollingshead’s lead once again.

“I’ve been at Malvern for seven years,” said Hollingshead. “I’ve seen it all. I’ve studied other leaders. I’ve seen what they’ve done. I just try to get the team motivated, get them pumped. I show them what I’ve been through, and what they’ll see, and how important Malvern hockey is.”

In another Flyers Cup AAA quarterfinal:

Holy Ghost Prep 6, Archbishop Carroll 0 >> To put it lightly, the seventh-seed Patriots had trouble getting the puck out of their zone. Carroll was unable to generate offense against second-seeded Holy Ghost, which held a commanding 48-0 shots-on-goal advantage in the second period, according to Twitter reports from the Bucks Courier County Times.

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