Like the rest of us, West Chester East boys hockey coach Eric Wolf has never seen a year like this.
But in Wolf’s case, this year stands out for a reason other than a global pandemic.
“I’m in my sixth year and this is the deepest team I’ve had,” Wolf said Thursday. “You usually don’t have four very good lines at high school, and I have four very good lines.”
The Ches-Mont League’s National Division in the Inter County Scholastic Hockey League dropped the puck on January 8, and most teams are now more than a month into their seasons. Reigning league champ West Chester East (4-0-0-0) is still the team to beat. But it’s that unparalleled team depth that is causing the rest of the league to worry.
The first-place Vikings put a stamp on the standings Monday with a 6-1 victory over crosstown rival Henderson, keeping their winning streak alive. Although the atmosphere at Ice Line wasn’t the same as a usual rivalry game, there was no lack of competition.
The Vikings dominated on the offensive end, compiling more than 40 shots on goal. The attack was led by sophomore Greg Diamond, who scored half of the team’s six goals, ending the night with a hat trick.
It’s Diamond’s first year on the East roster after playing his freshman season at Cardinal O’Hara, but he is already complementing the skills of upperclassmen on the offensive end. Senior Tristan D’Elia has been a playmaker alongside Diamond, tallying three assists on Monday, bumping him up to a total of 15 on the season.
On the other end of the ice, West Chester East is without its best defenseman, senior Michael Cardarelli, due to a knee injury. That leaves it up to underclassmen like sophomore Henry Thornton to protect the net in front of goaltenders Jake Godshall (four starts) and Connor McBridge (three starts).
“Henry Thornton might be the best defender in the Ches-Mont right now,” Wolf said. “He’s a sophomore, but he doesn’t play at a sophomore level. He controls, he goes against the other teams’ best players, he’s at the top of our first power play unit. If there’s a matchup we want against another team’s guy, he’s the first one over the wall. He takes care of business.”
West Chester East will try to protect its win streak against Avon Grove (1-1-1-0) at 9:45 Friday night at Ice Line. A win against the Red Devils would be a step toward the team’s very specific goals per Coach Wolf: secure a first-round bye in the Ches-Mont playoffs, win the league championship again, get the No. 1 seed in the Flyers Cup, win the Flyers Cup, and win the state championship.
The Vikings are off to a great start.
The undefeated girls from West Chester Henderson sit atop the American Division standings thanks to a perfect 8-0 start. Freshman Kayla Czukoski has been an offensive force on the ice, recording a staggering 16 goals and nine assists in just seven games played.
Czukoski is not the only underclassman making a statement. In the National Division, the girls from Downingtown East/Bishop Shanahan (3-4-0-0) picked up a solid win Sunday against Pennridge (1-3-0-1). They were keyed by a standout effort from two sophomores — goalie Olivia Ceglia and forward Maggie Jacoby — en route to a decisive 7-0 win. Ceglia recorded her second shutout of the season and Jacoby took over on the offensive end, scoring four goals on the day.
Back to the boys side, Malvern Prep (4-0-0-0) and Holy Ghost Prep’s (3-0-0-1) undefeated records were put to the test in an overtime Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC) matchup on Wednesday.
Each team stepped onto the ice with a spotless 3-0 record, but only Malvern left without a scratch, notching a 3-2 shootout win.
The teams’ stat lines were nearly identical, with each recording 28 saves and exactly 30 shots on goal.
The third period ended with the game tied, 2-2, and the overtime period came and went, with no goals from either team, leaving their undefeated records in the hands of a shootout. After two attempts from his teammates, it was senior Jack Costabile who decided the game with a goal.
Even though Costabile made the game-winner, he attributed the win to his teammate in the net, junior goalie Anthony Perti.
“Perti kept us in the whole game,” Costabile said. “We have a lot to work on, but a good overall team win.”
The saga isn’t over just yet. Holy Ghost Prep will get the chance to avenge the loss when Malvern heads north to Grundy Arena on Monday.
It’s rivalry week in Downingtown again, and, as always, the boys’ showdown between East and West Friday night at Ice Line is one to watch.
It’s the second meeting between the teams this season, and the Cougars (1-2-0-1) will hit the ice with a vengeance after a tough overtime loss in January.
Junior Trent Thomas scored an impressive hat trick for the Whippets in his team’s 4-3 win last month, but he hasn’t found the back of the net since.
The Cougars’ foremost offensive asset, Mark Stankiewicz, is the player to watch. The senior scored two of the Cougars’ three goals against West, and so far this season he has recorded eight goals and added four assists in five games played.
We would love to include more high school hockey in the Daily Local News and Pa. Prep Live.
Coaches and team managers: Please email summaries from your games, with statistics and first and last names, to firstname.lastname@example.org on the night of the game if at all possible. Include notable plays or players, and highlights from both teams, if possible.
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