You would have to go on an Lewis and Clark-like exploration to find a pair of teams that are more confident coming into their state finals than West Chester East and Malvern Prep. The two have gone on a tear in the postseason that has led them to the championship finals of the Pennsylvania Cup today at Ice Line.
The Vikings kick off the tripleheader by taking on Norwin in the Class A final at 11 a.m. Thomas Jefferson and Pennridge tangle in the AA final as the middle game at 2 p.m. In the nightcap, the Friars will face Peters Township at 5 p.m.
Both West Chester East and Malvern Prep are seeking to defend titles they won last year. East defeated Indiana, while Malvern broke a long drought by knocking off North Allegheny.
West Chester East has been flying coming into the final. As the top seed in the Flyers Cup, the Vikings vanquinshed their three opponents by a margin of 23-4. Adding its two Ches-Mont championship wins, that margin gets bumped up to 37-5.
“This is exciting,” East coach Eric Wolf said on playing for the title. “This is the best time of the year for high school hockey.”
The Vikings will have succeeded in playing all of its postseason games at the friendly confines of Ice Line.
“It’s why we play all season, to be the [top] seed in the Flyers Cup and when the states are in Eastern Pennsylvania,” said Wolf. “To have these games at Ice Line, where we are familiar, is rewarding and a great benefit for us.”
Playing close to home also allows their enthusiastic student section to show up in force and make their voices be heard in an attempt to rattle the first-time finalists.
Offensively, the Vikings are one of the most skilled teams in the state at any level. Their puck movement and depth of scoring are a wonder to behold. They had six players hitting double figures in goals, led by Danny Tirendi with 16 goals in the regular season and Trey Jefferis with 15. Ethan Fredricks and Chase Becnel added 10 goals each.
But the leading scorer for the Vikings comes from the back end, defenseman and captain Michael Cardarelli. He has proven to be one of the best two-way defensemen around.
Backstopping the Vikings is goalie Jesse Davis, who has come up with the key saves when called upon.
Their opponent, Norwin, comes into the final after knocking off McDowell in the Penguins Cup final Monday.
They have two top lines featured by Alex Thomas and Noah Fear. Ty Shigo notched 17 goals headlining the second line. Norwin is making its first appearance in the state final.
Over in AAA, Malvern Prep attempts to do the treble, the league, Flyers Cup and state titles. The Friars have dominated the postseason behind captain and leading scorer Matt Harris. The senior has seven goals during the Flyers Cup run, which resulted in him being named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player. Other top scorers include the brother tandem of Jimmy Jacobs and Jeremy Jacobs, along with Pierre Larocque. Quin Dougherty leads the way on the blueline. Anthony Petri has become one of the best goalies in the area and Peters will have to solve him to have any chance.
Peters return to the final since beating Holy Ghost Prep in 2017. They are powered by 20-goal scorer William Tomko and Ben Kovac. Peters scored four unawswered goals to upend Seneca Valley, 6-2, to capture the Penguins Cup title.
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