WEST GOSHEN >> Not much has stopped the Malvern Prep ice hockey team on its way to defending its Flyers Cup and Pennsylvania Cup titles. The top-seeded Friars have not had many troubles through the postseason, using a quickstrike offense and stingy defense to see themselves to win after win.
That formula held Monday night at a sold-out Ice Line as the Friars scored the first four goals, tournament MVP Matt Harris recorded a hat trick and goalie Anthony Perti stopped 30 of 31 shots as the Friars rolled to a 6-1 victory over St. Joseph’s Prep for their second straight AAA Flyers Cup championship.
Malvern will now face Peters Township, a 6-2 winner over Seneca Valley in the Penguins Cup final Monday, for the AAA Pensylvania Cup crown Saturday at Ice Line at 5 p.m.
“It’s awesome,” said Harris on repeating. It’s just a great feeling.”
“It’s been awhile since Malvern has been in this position,” added coach Bill Keenan. “I’ve been with Malvern for 10 years and it’s a nice feat here to go back-to-back and put Malvern back on the map as a strong program. I have to credit my family for allowing me the time to go out and do this every day. It means a lot for the program and we look forward for years to come.”
With the crowd barely settled in, Malvern struck quickly in the first period, Senior forward Pierre Larocque scored off the rush from a pass by Jeremy Jacobs as he beat Prep goalie Rocco Bruno to give the Friars an early 1-0 lead. A result that the underdog Hawks did not want to see happen.
“It got the bench fired up and got everybody dialed in,” said Harris. “We knew that Prep was going to come even harder than they already were. We knew we had to keep the pressure up and get shots.”
Malvern Prep kept that pressure on, not allowing St. Joe’s its first shot on goal until almost six minutes into the first.
The one-goal lead held until 3:52 remaining. Harris collected a rebound off a Caiden Canale shot, and flipped it over a fallen Bruno to make it 2-0.
“We have a mentality on our team that anybody can step up and fill a role,” said Keenan. “I have guys that play club and I have guys who don’t play club. To me, it’s just looking for the right fit in our lineup every day. The guys come to practice, they compete and they work hard.”
Malvern didn’t slow down at all in the second period. They bumped the advantage to 3-0 as Harris tallied his second goal of the night off a scramble in front of Bruno.
A minute later, Malvern made it 4-0 as Johnathan Holt tipped a shot past Bruno and the Friars were flying as they were thoroughly dominating the Hawks.
Perti came into the third period having stopped all 22 shots he faced and had the fans thinking of shutout, but St. Joe’s ended the shutout dreams as Nicholas Storti scored from the left faceoff circle to make it 4-1 with 15:19 left and give Prep a glimmer of hope.
But, that hope was not answered as Jimmy Jacobs and Harris scored within the final four minutes to put the game away. Jacobs and Harris combined for six points on the night.
Harris ended the Flyers Cup with seven goals and he received the Bobby Clarke Award presented to the MVP from former Flyers Brad Marsh and Bob “Houndog” Kelly.
Harris also paid tribute to the Malvern student section who came out.
“It felt really good to have the guys come out and support as we do for their sporting events,” said Harris. “It’s what makes that connection and that brotherhood.”
Malvern Prep 6, St. Jospeh’s Prep 1
St. Joseph’s Prep 0 0 1- 1
Malvern Prep 2 2 2- 6
St. Joseph’s Prep goal: Storti.
Malvern Prep goals: Harris 3, Larocque, Holt, Ji. Jacobs.
Goalie saves: Bruno (SJP) 29; Perti (MP) 30.
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