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ICE HOCKEY: APAC & ICSHL Teams Making Strides as Flyers Cup Selections Loom

By Anthony Salvato & Jeremy Goode - Photos: Luke Gallagher & Josh Cotterell, 01/24/23, 6:00PM EST


Photos/Videos: Josh Cotterell, Jack Verdeur (Garnet Valley), Anthony Salvato (SJP) & Luke Gallagher (SJP)

By: Jeremy Goode, Anthony Salvato (SJP) & PSD Staff.


We are officially a month and a half away from the start of the 2023 Flyers Cup, and numerous teams have been making their case to be selected at the No. 1 seed. The Flyers Cup selection show will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. on the Flyers Cup YouTube channel. The tournament will officially begin on March 6, with the championship slated to be held the week of March 20.

In APAC play, Holy Ghost Prep leads the pack with a 4-2 record (13 points), followed by La Salle College High School 4-2 (12 points), St. Joseph’s Prep 3-3 (11 points), The Hun School 2-3 (6 points) and Malvern Prep, the reigning Flyers Cup and APAC champions, at 1-4 (3 points). Holy Ghost senior Brady Baehser leads all APAC players with 20 goals (36 points) on the season.

In the ICSHL-PCL division, Salesianum, the 2021 ICSHL-PCL champions, leads the standings at 7-0 with 14 points. Cardinal O’Hara, the 2022 ICSHL-PCL champions are in second place at 5-1 with 10 points. Following the two heavyweights are Father Judge with a 3-2 record (6 points), Shanahan-Coatesville at 1-4 (2 points) and Roman Catholic at 0-8.

While Archbishop Carroll, competes in the PCL in other sports, the combined team with Pope John Paul II plays within the ICSHL-Pioneer division and currently sits in sixth place with a 1-9 record. Similarly, Archbishop Ryan and Bux-Mont Catholic, a combined team with players from Archbishop Wood and Lansdale Catholic, compete in the ICSHL-D2 division. Bux-Mont is in third place in the D2 division, with a 5-6 record (12 points), while Archbishop Ryan sits in sixth place at 3-9-1 with seven points.

Around the APAC…

Malvern Tops St. Joseph’s Prep 4-1 in Early Season Bout

By: Anthony Salvato

On Friday, Nov. 11, the Malvern Prep Friars and St. Joe’s Prep Hawks faced off at the Haverford Skatium to kick off the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference season, where the Friars collected a 4-1 win. Both schools packed their student sections as both sides were eager for this rematch of last year’s Flyers Cup championship, which the Friars also won.

The Hawks kicked off the scoring early in the first period with a goal from freshman varsity call-up Ben Kersun. Kersun wasn’t even on the main roster for the Hawks to start the season and was filling in on the first line for injured Hawks senior forward Joe Samango. Kersun, however, made the most of the opportunity and buried a rebound to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead and early momentum.

The Friars responded with four unanswered goals, the first from Jeremy Jacobs, and the other three from Caiden Canale. Despite it being a relatively back and forth game it was the Friars who were able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.

Despite losing a handful of seniors, Malvern's Caiden Canale says the Friars are still strong - PSD Video by Anthony Salvato (SJP)

The Hawks also had two costly turnovers in the second period that both led to goals and helped put the game out of reach.

“I was in the middle of the net, open every time,” said Canale on his hat trick. “My teammates just dimmed it every time, just east shots.”

LOOKING AHEAD: On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Malvern Prep will play top-seeded Holy Ghost Prep at 4 p.m. at the Grundy Ice Arena. 

In their next two games on Nov. 16 and Nov. 25, St. Joseph’s Prep went on to defeat Holy Ghost Prep 3-2 and Gonzaga 2-1 in an out-of-conference game.

“I think we are a hungry team, we want to win. We think this year is our year. We’re giving our all and it’s starting to pay off,” said St. Joseph’s Prep goalie, Ajay White.

SJP goalie Ajay White talks about the Hawk's mentality, Rivalry vs. Gonzaga and team goals going forward - PSD Video by Anthony Salvato:

SJP freshman Ben Kersun talks about being called up to varsity & reflects on win vs. Gonzaga - PSD Video by Anthony Salvato:

La Salle Remains Dominant

The first game of the 2023 PCL-APAC rivalry between La Salle and St. Joseph’s Prep ended in the Explorer’s favor, 5-1, on Weds. Jan. 11, as the two teams faced off outside at Spring Mountain.

Chase Hannon and Thomas Doucet gave La Salle early momentum, scoring two first period goals to give the Explorer’s a 2-0 cushion. Liam Donahue added another goal for La Salle in the second period before Jeffrey Hammond was able to secure a goal for the Hawks.

Donahue scored again off an assist from Will Gregorio to make the score 4-1 at even strength. The final goal of the game came off a La Salle power play, as Declan Kelly found Evan Golato for the Explorer’s fifth goal, to officially end the scoring.

On Weds. Jan. 18, the La Salle Explorers, again, asserted their offensive power, defeating the Haverford School 11-0.

Explorer goals in the win vs. Haverford School are credited to: Max Monzo, Will Gregorio and Dean Carvalho in the first period, Julian Tarsi (2), Ryan Wiley, Luke Murphy, Michael Zarzycki in the second period and Grant LaGreca, Carvalho and Zarzycki in the third.

La Salle’s next APAC game will be against The Hun School on Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. at the Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton, NJ.

St. Joseph’s Prep on Two-Game Win Streak:

St. Joseph’s Prep 3 vs. La Salle 1 – Pink the Rink

By: Anthony Salvato, Photos: Luke Gallagher

After falling to the La Salle just over a week ago on Jan. 11 at Spring Mountain by a score of 5-1, the Hawks bounced back and took this contest by a score of 3-1 and split the season series while hosting the Explorers for the 11th annual Pink the Rink event at the Skatium.

All proceeds went to For Pete’s Sake, a local charity that raises money for cancer awareness. Both teams sported special jerseys for the night with the Hawks wearing their signature pink threads while the Explorers unveiled their new purple Breast Cancer awareness jerseys.

The Hawks came out to a hot start early in the game and finished a strong first period with a late breakaway goal from senior Joe Samango, after a pass from fellow senior Luke Schienholtz,  to make it 1-0. Samango would add another in the second period to give the Hawks a two goal lead before James Carpenter tallied his fourth goal of the season for La Salle to cut the Hawks lead in half and make it a 2-1 game. Samango completed the hat trick in the third period to make it a 3-1 game, the score which the Hawks would ultimately win by.

“I think we decided that we were going to win this game tonight and we followed through with it,” said Samango when asked about the team’s success on the night.

Samango said that the Hawks, despite missing some players in this game, were well prepared for the night and that they had a strong week in practice to prepare them.

“We did the little things right tonight and that’s why I think we came out with the win here,” Bruno added after his strong performance in net, saving 14 shots. “This team can beat anybody in this league and anybody in this state.”

SJP senior Joe Samango talks about the Hawk's preparation for 2nd game vs. La Salle - PSD video by Anthony Salvato:

SJP goalie Rocco Bruno says the Hawks can beat any team in the state if they play to their best potential - PSD Video by Anthony Salvato

Now after taking two games over Holy Ghost and splitting the season with La Salle, the Hawks can make a strong case for the No. 1 seed in the AAA division of the Flyers Cup if they can split the season with Malvern Prep and the Hun School to finish out APAC (Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference) regular season play.

St. Joseph’s Prep 4 vs. St. Augustine Prep 3

By: Jeremy Goode

After two consecutive starts by senior goaltender Rocco Bruno, St Joseph’s Prep turned to junior goaltender Ajay White, who with the aid of a strong defensive effort from his Hawk teammates was able to hold off the St. Augustine Prep Hermits. The Hawks won 4-3 at the Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, New Jersey.

“We knew St. Augustine was going to come out just as hard as us,” White said. “So, I just tried to keep the same mindset, try to see everything, eat all the rebounds and make it easier on my defense.”

St. Joseph’s Prep found itself hanging back defensively from the start of the puck being dropped. White was under pressure early on, deflecting several slap shots while also pulling in several glove saves from St. Augustine’s spread-out offense. The Hawks were able to break the ice early, with forward Joseph Samango starting the scoring in favor of St. Joseph’s Prep, 1-0.

The Hawks saw an extended stretch during the first period in which they were defending the puck in their zone for several minutes. After the Hawks’ defensive unit and White were able to deflect and keep the puck away from the net, the offense was able to give the team a cushion through an offensive rally of their own. Patrick Sweeney joined Samango by scoring a goal of his own with four minutes and thirty-two seconds left in the first period.

Not wanting to be outdone, Jeffrey Hammond scored 21 seconds later with a wrap-around goal after St. Augustine’s senior goaltender Christian Amato was not able to clear a previous shot behind the net. The Hawks continued to defend their zone until the end of the first period. White faced 15 shots on net during the first 15 minutes, including saving four shots in the final minute of the first period, sending St. Joseph’s into the first intermission up 3-0.

“Defensively, we tried to keep everyone on the outside as possible,” St. Joseph’s Prep coach Dave Giacomin said. “We played a little man-to-man, had defense down low and then had two helpers up top. That seemed to limit how many chances they had from in-tight.” 

Hammond agreed, acknowledging that the team builds through its defense during the game, which eventually sets up the offense.

Despite scoring two goals, Jeffrey Hammond credits his defense and offensive attack in the 4-3 victory vs. St. Augustine - PSD Video by Jeremy Goode

SJP junior Ajay White walks us through the Hawk's win vs. St. Augustine - PSD Video by Jeremy Goode

For White, it was simple: just stop the next shot.

St. Joseph’s took on a more conservative approach in the second period by dropping players back on defense. Samango and Hammond seemed as if they had a few opportunities to make a play, but ultimately, they were unable to get going on that side of the ice.  

“We always have one bad period and it seems to be the second,” Giacomin said. “I think we settled in a little bit too much and if we don’t skate the entire time and let the other team dictate play, we are just a mediocre team.”

The fresh ice after the Zamboni came on between the second and third period did not seem to help the Hawk’s efforts. Barely three minutes into the final period, St. Augustine senior forward Kai Ackerman scored on a breakaway, cutting St. Joseph’s Prep’s lead to 3-2.

St. Joseph’s skater Hammond continued to battle with the puck and was able to put up a backhander with four minutes left in the game that was saved by Amato. Minutes later, the Hawks took advantage of a Hermits’ turnover at center ice, and an eventual three-on-one led to Hammond netting his second goal of the contest to put the Hawks up 4-2.  

“My mindset actually right before that shift was that we needed to score another goal to close out the game,” Hammond said.

St. Augustine was quick to respond, putting the puck tin the back of the St. Joseph’s net 20 seconds later. St. Joseph’s Prep would then fend off St. Augustine for the next minute and forty-eight seconds to earn the out of conference win.

“St. Augustine has been on our schedule for many years and the games are always competitive, [and] . . . we have been on the short end of most of them,” Giacomin said. “They have a ton of kids in their program through a wide area in which they can draw from, so it is great playing against this type of team.”

The Hawks will have some time off to rest and plan through practices in preparation for their next matchup against non-conference Gloucester City High School on Feb. 1 at the Class of 1923 Arena on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.

ICHSL-PCL Battle between Cardinal O’Hara & Roman Catholic

On Friday, Jan. 20, Cardinal O’Hara faced off against Roman Catholic at the Northeast Skate Zone. The reigning ICHSL-PCL champions proved that they are still the team to beat, defeating the Cahillites 6-2.

The Lions started the game strong, scoring four unanswered goals. The first two came in the opening period from Braedan Janson, assisted by Bode Peterson and Luke Melito, and Aidan Crawford, assisted by John Shelton III.

Melito would find the net twice in the second period before Roman Catholic’s Michael Desiderio scored a goal for the Cahillies. Graney Andrew added the Lion’s fifth goal, bringing the score to 5-1 at the ice cut.

At the start of the third period, Desiderio scored again to give Roman its second goal and added momentum. However, O’Hara’s high-powered offense was too much, as Andrew sealed the game with his second goal to lead O’Hara to a 6-2 victory.

Looking ahead: Roman Catholic will play Lower Merion on Thurs. Jan. 26 at 9: 45 p.m. at Skatium. Cardinal O’Hara will play Salesianum, who is currently in first place in the ICSHL-PCL division, on Thursday, Feb, 2 at 8 p.m. at Skatium. This is surely not a game to miss!