MANOA >> Adam Carter wasn’t ready to see the season end just yet.
But he didn’t need to play any more than the allotted 51 minutes on Wednesday night.
The junior’s second goal of the third period gave Perkiomen Valley the lead for good with 1:37 left in the third period as the third-seeded Vikings outlasted a strong Haverford squad and a partisan Fords crowd for a thrilling 5-4 win at the Skatium, sending the Vikings to the AA Flyers Cup Final for the first time in school history.
“I saw the back door open… I saw Hunter (Ringwood, PV’s leading scorer in 2020) open, and when the defense moved to him, I found an opening,” said Carter.
Coach Brennan McCourt, celebrating his birthday on Wednesday, said the goal was the best present he could’ve asked for.
“It’s nerve-wracking, but I think it’s even greater to do this as a coach than it would’ve been as a player,” said McCourt. “To work with these kids towards this goal has been amazing, the rewards speak for themselves.
“And we still have one more to go.”
The seesaw battle saw Perkiomen Valley take a one-goal lead on four occasions, only to see the Fords respond. But despite their best efforts, with only about 90 seconds to respond after the fifth goal, Haverford simply ran out of time.
Sophomore Chris Cowgill had a lot to say about that, backstopping the Vikings with 27 saves against the area’s best regular-season offense in the No. 2 seed Fords.
“By far, I feel like I’m playing my best hockey of the year right now,” said Cowgill. “But more importantly, so is the entire team.”
The Fords’ season comes to an end at a mark of 18-2-1. Perk Valley started their postseason run with wins over Downingtown East and Council Rock South before climbing the largest mountain thus far in toppling Haverford Wednesday.
The Vikings, however, won’t be alone in the quest for their first Flyers Cup. They’ll compete with Downingtown West for the honor after the fifth-seeded Whippets dispatched No. 8 Boyertown, 4-2, in the nightcap.
D-West started their run to the finals with victories last week over Pennsbury and North Penn, and the Whippets appear to be hitting their stride at the perfect time, especially defensively. They limited Boyertown to only seven shots in the first two periods in supporting goalie Anthony Cuba’s effort.
Matt Flinn scored twice for D-West, while Charlie a Cliggett added a goal and two helpers.
D-West started their run to the finals with victories last week over Pennsbury and North Penn, and the Whippets appear to be hitting their stride at the perfect time, especially defensively. They limited Boyertown to only seven shots in the first two periods in supporting goalie Anthony Cuba’s 11-save effort. The Whippets dominated shots on goal by a 43-13 margin.
“We knew (Boyertown’s Owen) Yancey was a fantastic goaltender,” said D-Town West Coach Ryan Smith, “and we figured it’d take at least 40 shots (to win).”
“What’s that saying? Only Jesus saves more?” asked Boyertown coach Pat Croce. “Owen’s been a rock for us all year.”
The first period, played decisively in D-Town’s favor, paid off when Zak Spero and Charlie Cliggett struck about 90 seconds apart to give the hosts a 2-0 lead at intermission.
The scoreless second period featured a couple power plays for each side, with Cuba making perhaps his best stop of a Jackson Novak snap shot in the first few minutes.
Downingtown West put it out of reach when Matt Flinn and Charlie Cliggett connected twice within 55 seconds in the early third period to double their lead. For Flinn, they were his fifth and sixth goals of the Flyers Cup tournament.
Adam Harman responded for the Bears at 14:41 of the period, his third goal of the Flyers Cup. With exactly seven minutes to play, a Boyertown powerplay led to a Novak strike on a feed from Harman to make the final minutes a bit less comfortable for the Whippets.
But the Whippets defense was just too much.
“In some ways, it’s tougher facing so few shots,” admitted Cuba. “But if I stay focused, I can relax as well.”
Boyertown bested CB East in the tournament opener last week before topping top-seeded CB South, 5-4 in overtime in a potential “Game of the Year” candidate that saw 50-plus shots on goal for both sides before the Bears ended it a few minutes into the extra session. Their 2019-2020 campaign ends at a mark of 11-9-1.
“I feel like we didn’t get our legs under us for a whole, but we had the heart to fight back in the third period,” said Croce.
“These 15 seniors have been the core of my three years coaching at Boyertown, and as you see (gesturing at past players who turned out for the game), we must be doing something right to keep them coming back.”