WEST GOSHEN >> The task ahead of the Malvern Prep ice hockey team has been pretty straightforward — repeat as league, Flyers Cup and state champions.
The first part was accomplished and the second took a huge step forward as Matt Harris scored four times and goalie Anthony Perti stopped all but two of Holy Ghost Prep’s 37 shots as the Friars rolled to a 6-2 victory in the AAA semifinals of the Flyers Cup at Ice Line on Wednesday.
Malvern sails into the championship final, where they will face St. Joseph’s Prep on Tuesday.
“The message coming in is we have a target on our back after winning Flyers Cup and states last year, so we knew we had to bring it,” said Harris. “Holy Ghost plays us hard every time, so we were fired up and ready to play.”
Neither team had much the better of play in the first few minutes. Both goalies were not tested very much in stopping three shots apiece.
That changed, however, six minutes into the game. Hayden Campbell found himself in front of the net. Jason Soule stopped the intial effort, Campbell pounced on the rebound and lifted it into the net over the fallen goalie.
The Friars doubled the lead with 7:21 left. Off a faceoff in the Holy Ghost end, Jimmy Jacobs corralled the puck and powered to the net and slipped a backhander past Soule.
Seconds later, Harris recorded his first goal of the evening off a feed from Caiden Canale and all of a sudden, the Friars collected a commanding 3-0 advantage.
“First goal is any game is tough,” said Harris. “It kind of kills their will and we didn’t take our foot off the gas. We just played hard until the finish.”
Harris tallied his second goal just under four minutes into the middle period. Harris caught a long headman pass from defenseman Brady Doyle behind the Firebirds defense and he sped in and beat Soule.
Holy Ghost tried to get back into it, but a couple of five-star chances was turned away by Petri. First, he stretched out a glove as Brian Butler broke in on a semi-breakaway. Then, he flshed the right pad out to deny Ronnie Selzer.
Harris, who was the MVP of last year’s championship, completed his hat trick with 11:43 left to make it 5-0 and chase Soule.
The Firebirds broke up the shutout on the power play with 10:20 left. Brady Baehser’s shot from about 15-feet to the right of Perti went through traffic and over the goalie’s shoulder into the night.
Harris potted an empty net goal with 2:06 left for his fourth of the night, before Butler ended the scoring with a minute left.
“I was ready to play,” Harris said. “Being a senior, I have to give it my all every single game for my teammates.”
Malvern Prep 6, Holy Ghost Prep 2
Holy Ghost Prep 0 0 2- 2
Malvern Prep 3 2 1- 6
Holy Ghost Prep goals: Baehser, Butler.
Malvern Prep goals: Harris 4, Campbell, Jacobs.
Goalie saves: Soule (HGP) 23; Mudrick (HGP) 2. Perti (MP) 35.
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