WEST GOSHEN >> For an underdog, the longer they stay scoreless, the more hope they gain that the favorite would tighten the grips on their sticks. And that, in part, is how upsets are sprung, But, the opposite was the more prevailing feeling in Tuesday’s Flyers Cup A semifinal between top-seeded West Chester East and No. 4 Hershey at Ice Line.
The Vikings slowly started imposing their will, broke a scoreless tie early in the second period and used goals from six different players for a workmanlike 6-0 victory to waltz into the championship game on Monday against Palmyra or Springfield (Delco).
“It’s the Flyers Cup final. That’s where we knew we wanted to be,” said East coach Eric Wolf. “Whether we play Palmyra or Springfield, it’s insignificant. At this time of the year, you know you’re going to play somebody good. It’s the Flyers Cup final, you’re going to get a good opponent, and that’s what you want.”
Even though East outshout the Trojans, 14-4, in the first, the Vikings didn’t really control the period. Both teams had decent chances. Trey Jefferis had the first big chance as he sped past the defense off the rush, but his shot was swallowed up by goalie Jayden Noss.
Hershey came back with a glorious chance of its own as Toby Kauffman took a lead pass, streaked in on goal, and although his shot beat Jesse Davis, it couldn’t beat the left post.
Noss had to come up with a couple of more decent saves in the stanza, and was working until the end as he gloved a shot as the buzzer sounded.
“We got what we expected in the first period,” added Wolf. “They’re a good team, a solid team. We saw them play Council Rock North and that’s what we noticed, they will give you three lines and just wave after wave. We would have to battle every shift.”
East slowly started to dominate the game and tilt the ice in its favor. That finally translated into a goal with 13:35 left.
Connor Watson collected a pass from Cam Greenwalt and fired a shot from about 15-feet-out that beat Noss to the stick side for that vital first goal.
“We kept putting the pressure on the goalie, got a lot of shots and a lot of movement in the offensive end,” said Watson. “I was just happy I put the first one in the net to get the ball rolling for us to score more. It was stick side, I got a good pass from Greenwalt, I was wide open in the slot and I was able to put it in the net.”
The dam had broken, and the margin grew shortly thereafter, as Chase Khounsacknarth made no mistake as he scooped up the puck following a collision at center ice. He sped past the defense and snapped a shot that beat Noss to the glove side, inside the right post for a 2-0 lead.
Jefferis cashed in this chance as he capped the period by powering a shot underneath the crossbar for a 3-0 lead and a spot in the final felt like a mere formality.
“Using my speed and skill, I kept pushing and was finally able to get one in the net,” said Jefferis.
The Vikings then scored three more times in the third to take commanding 6-0 lead. The Trojans broke the shutout with 9:02 left. Brody Bess got behind the defense after getting out of the penalty box, collected a pass and beat Davis through the five-hole.
The Vikings locked down the game from there and earned the chance to defend their title.
“I liked how we came out in the third period,” said Wolf. “I liked how we got a goal early and if they were thinking a comeback, we made the mountain that much higher to climb.”
West Chester East 6, Hershey 1
Hershey 0 0 1 — 1
WC East 0 3 3 — 6
Hershey goals: Bess.
West Chester East goals: Watson, Khounsacknarath; Jefferis, J. Cardarelli, M. Cardarelli, Thornton.
Goalie saves: Noss (H) 37; Davis (WCE) 19.
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