HAVERFORD, PA—It was familiar territory once again for Cardinal O’Hara as they took on the Crusaders of Father Judge in the PCL Club Ice Hockey Championship last Thursday at the Skatium in Haverford.
Last season these same two teams went head-to-head in the championship final in a battle that went into overtime with the Lions pulling out the 3-2 victory. Fast forward to this year and to a Championship match that was deja vu times two.
Cardinal O'Hara 2019 PCL Club Ice Hockey Champions -(photo courtesy of Cardinal O'Hara Athletics)
The Lions of Cardinal O’ Hara came through in double overtime winning their third straight PCL final 5-4 against the Crusaders.
O’Hara held the Crusaders scoreless the first period with goals by John Paul Ahearn, Michael Roney and Steve Graney.
Going into the second period, Judge’s Dominic Corrado scored on a penalty shot, followed by a goal from Robert Werner and Owen Newhouse to tie the game at 3.
“We played them (Father Judge) twice in the regular season so we knew what to expect from them. We knew how we had to play to be successful," said O’Hara junior defenseman Matt Beck. "Going into the game I felt pretty confident that we would be able to get it done.”
Beck’s confidence came in handy after a shot from Newhouse put the Crusaders up by 1 with less than 5 minutes in regulation. Beck answered back with a goal of his own tying the game 4-4.
That score remained, for not one, but for two extra periods.
“At the intermission in between the second and third, Matt Beck and I looked around the room and decided to speak up and tell the boys we will not let this slip away from us. Of course, going into double overtime it was exhausting for everybody. We kinda had to keep our composure and bare down when we got the chances,” said Ahearn.
That composure paid off big time for the senior captain who scored the winning goal at the 5:32 mark of the second overtime.
According to Ahearn, that winning goal all started with their defensive line spearheaded by Lions’ junior goalie Troy Percival. Percival made 40 saves on the night.
“Troy stood on his head all game and he happened to make a timely save that sprung us on a rush to gain their zone and Matt Beck wrapped it around the boards to keep it in the zone and I was there to pick it up. I faked one way, stopped, went the other way and tucked it in between his skate and the post,” said Ahearn.
According to head coach and O'Hara alum Ed Banes 08’, adding a third consecutive win and going against Father Judge again in such an intense game was incredible.
“It’s awesome in the fact it went into double OT. That is a testament to Father Judge and the effort their coaching staff and players put in. I almost feel there is a marriage between us at this point. I really thought that they played well enough to win the game. As for us, three in-a-row, it really is sweet.”
Ahearn shared in the sentiment.
“I give huge credit to Father Judge for the fight they put up,” said Ahearn. “It takes a lot of heart to come back when down 3-0 in the first. We knew we were going to hit adversity no matter what it was.”
Banes lauded his coaching staff and senior leadership.
“When my staff and I took over the program four years ago, we were in a major downslope. The dedication of this senior class, which was the first class that has been with us all four years, just goes to show you that hard work, and dedication really pays off in the end. It feels good,” said Banes.
Ahearn reflected on what it has meant for him to be a part of this team.
“Coming to O’Hara was a last minute choice for me going into freshman year. Bob McGowan had a huge impact on me to come here and the way this hockey program is run, it was an honor to be a part of, but of the past three PCL championships this one had to be the best. Senior year and to go out with a bang, you can’t beat that,” said Ahearn.
Ahearn offered some words of advice for his teammates going forward:
“I would tell them to enjoy it. It goes by so fast. Stay gold ponyboys.”
O’Hara is not done their season yet. They will be competing against St. Joseph’s Prep in the quarterfinal round of the Flyers Cup this Wednesday March 6th, at the Skatium in Haverford. Game time is 6:15 p.m.