PHILADELPHIA >> The La Salle College High School Explorers wanted to make sure that they started the Flyers Cup final in a big way.
They did just that with three goals in the first seven minutes of the game to earn the 3A Flyers Cup championship against St. Joseph’s Prep by a 5-2 score Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The Explorers got a big help from sophomore Michael Casey, who finished the game with two assists and a goal.
“Tonight’s game felt really special,” said Casey. “We came out here and saw the huge crowd, but we can’t worry about that, just keep my mind towards the game and get the big win.”
“It was great to perform in a great arena like this,” said Casey about playing at the home of the Philadelphia Flyers. “We just had to focus on winning the game and make it to the state championship.”
The Explorers came out on fire with their first goal from Brandon Leer just four minutes into the game.
“The moment I scored the first goal of the night was just insane,” said Leer. “When I shot and it went in I just felt a way that I never felt before in my entire life.”
“I was so happy getting that first goal and I just wanted to keep going,” added Leer. “We came into this game a lot more serious because we had a tight one last time. We went into this game more calm and more comfortable with ourselves on the ice and just being careful.”
La Salle College High School later got two goals in two minutes from Ryan Ferry and Michael Casey, both scoring their first goal in the tournament.
After taking a timeout being down 3-0 early in the game, St. Joseph’s Prep stepped up its defense, which later earned a power play goal from Vincent Borgesi.
St. Joseph’s Prep, the defending 3A state champions, trimmed the Explorer lead down to 3-2 early in the second period with a goal from Andrew Centrella.
After having a one-goal lead heading into the third period, the Explorers came out on fire scoring a goal in 38 seconds from Sam Lipkin.
The Explorers ended the night with a late power play goal from Daniel Sambuco to secure the 5-2 championship victory.
Casey finished the game with three points to earn the Flyers Cup most valuable player award.
La Salle College High School head coach Walter Muehlbronner was thrilled with his team to get the Flyers Cup championship.
“I think we came out loose which is what we wanted to do and the kids played great right out of the gate,” said Muehlbronner. “Then St. Joseph’s Prep got that goal late in the first period and then took a couple penalties at that point.”
“So the message going into the third period was let’s just play the way we are capable of and let’s just get back to our game plan,” added Muehlbronner. “I think they did a great job coming out in the third period and getting back at it.”
“We are a team that is known for scoring a number of goals pretty quickly,” said Muehlbronner about his offense. “Our first line had an act of putting the puck in the net all season long so I wasn’t surprised to see them go up big early in the first period.”
Explorer goalie Aidan McCabe saved 20 out of 22 shots in the complete game victory.
“McCabe is the reason we are here,” said Muehlbronner. “The semifinal game was really tough, but McCabe did a phenomenal job and he’s been the rock for us all season long.”
The La Salle College High School Explorers will hit the ice one last time this season at the 3A state championship game at Neville Island on the campus of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 23 against either Peters Township or North Allegheny at 4:00 p.m.
Flyers Cup 3A Final
La Salle 5, St. Joseph’s Prep 2
SJ 1 0 -2
LS 3 0 2 -5
La Salle Goals: Leer, Ferry, Casey, Lipkin, Sambuco.
St. Joseph’s Prep Goals: Borgesi, Centrella.
La Salle Assists: Walsh, Woudenberg, Baker, Ford, Lipkin, Mazzarelli, Casey (2).
St. Joseph’s Prep Assists: Centrella, Urbani, Borgesi.
SHOTS: La Salle 37. St. Joseph’s Prep 22.
La Salle: McCabe 20-22, .909 SV%
St. Joseph’s Prep: McGill 21-23, .913 SV%; Stefano 0-3.
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