skip navigation

ICE HOCKEY: PCL Rivals La Salle and St. Joseph's Prep Set to Take Center Ice in the APAC Championship

By Zac Wilson Photos: Joe Mancini & Zack Beavers, 02/25/24, 7:00PM EST


The 2024 APAC Founders Cup stage is set. No. 1 seeded La Salle (8-0 APAC) will face No. 3 seeded St. Joseph’s Prep (4-4 APAC) at 4 p.m. at Hatfield Ice Arena on Wednesday.

Earlier in the season, the Explorers secured two wins against the Hawks: a 3-1 win on November 15 and a 5-3 victory on Feb. 14.

Both teams are playing their best hockey at the right time as the APAC championship and the Flyers Cup tournament rolls around. This rivalry Founders Cup match-up is not a game to miss!

See semifinal stories below:

APAC Semifinal #1: La Salle 3, Holy Ghost Prep 1

By: Zac Wilson

Photos: Zack Beavers

La Salle used timely saves and clutch penalty killing to continue its undefeated season with an intense 3-1 win over Holy Ghost Prep booking their ticket to the APAC league finals on Wednesday.

In a fast paced, physical first period that saw both teams exchange grade A scoring chances, it was the goaltenders who stole the show. Jacob Rossi of La Salle and Jack Unger of Holy Ghost Prep both did all they could to give their team a chance to open the scoring.

Rossi stopped all 6 shots he faced in the first while Unger turned aside 9 La Salle shots. Unger and Holy Ghost Prep survived a late push from La Salle making two point blank saves in the final minute of the first frame.

Great saves from Jacob Rossi of La Salle - PSD Video by Zac Wilson

The only penalty of the first was a crosscheck on La Salle’s Charles Budd that his teammates were able to kill off.

The second period started off with the same physical style of play. HGP's Arthur Myers and La Salle's Dean Carvalho were given coincidental roughing minors in the opening minute of the 2nd period.

Both goalies again had continued their strong play looking to lead their team into the league championship a week from Wednesday.

The scoring finally opened with just over two minutes to go in the second period when Benjamin Falicki jumped on an Unger rebound and put La Salle up 1-0 breaking the stalemate.

La Salle took just 15 seconds after their first goal to double up their lead. Charles Kennedy found himself alone in the high slot and wired home a wrist shot that beat Unger to the low blocker.

All momentum appeared to be leaning La Salle's way moments before we began the third and final period.

Unger was able to steal all that momentum with a huge breakaway save with less than a minute to go in the 2nd period.

Moments after his save Holy Ghost Preps leading scorer Jake McCaw broke into the attacking zone wide and was able to power his way past La Salle’s defenseman and beat Rossi to the far side of the net and bury a backhand shot with 35 seconds left in the period to cut the lead in half and set the stage for a crucial third period with a spot in the league finals on the line.

Holy Ghost Prep played their strongest hockey of the night in the first few shifts of the third period firing 5 shots in the first 2 minutes.

La Salle was able to survive the early onslaught and take back momentum for the majority of the final period.

But like he had all night, Unger was Holy Ghost Prep's best player making two breakaway saves with under 10 minutes to go and his team down 1.

A clutch penalty kill from La Salle with 7 minutes to go set the stage for an intense finish to a hard fought game.

Holy Ghost Prep made an incredible last minute push to tie the game with the goalie pulled but Rossi was there to thwart any chance they had to get the equalizer. An empty net goal from Carvahlo put La Salle up 3-1 and sent them on their way to the league finals.

They will meet St. Joe’s Prep next week with a chance to end their so far undefeated season with a trophy and an APAC league championship.

APAC Semifinal #2: St. Joseph’s Prep 3, Malvern Prep 2

By: Zac Wilson

Photos: Joe Mancini, SJP Jr. Reporter

St. Joe’s rallied late to stun Malvern Prep 3-2 and advance to the APAC finals vs. La Salle.

In a game that Malvern Prep never trailed until late in the third period, it was the team who spent the majority of the game chasing the puck that emerged victorious. St. Joe’s never quit even though the game did not come easy to the Hawks. It took a complete 51 minute performance to extend their season.

Malvern Prep took advantage of a bench minor penalty for too many men from St. Joe’s and went up 1-0 less than 2 minutes into the game on a great redirection from Jonathan Holt that beat St. Joe's Jacob Aranda’s high blocker side.

The Hawks penalty woes continued late in the first when Robert McGinn was whistled for tipping with just under 3 minutes to go in the period. Malvern Prep did them a favor by responding with their own too many men penalty 1 minute into the late powerplay.

Malvern Prep’s Matthew Crawford was excellent in the first period, turning away all seven St. Joe’s shots he faced, leading his team into a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.

St. Joe’s was finally able to break through and even the game at 1 when Tristan Winata jumped all over his own rebound and fired it home with 7 minutes to go in the middle period.

The tie did not last very long, Malvern Prep's Caiden Canale wired home a great pass from Teague Murray and gave them a 2-1 lead with 3:52 left in the second period. A score that would hold up for the rest of the period putting Malvern Prep just 17 minutes away from a league finals berth.

Malvern Prep came out flying in the third period applying the pressure early. Aranda had to make a great blocker save on the first shift of the period keeping his team's hopes of a comeback alive.

An accidental collision early in the period left St. Joe's Caden Kelly down on the ice appearing to be in quite a bit of pain, his absence was felt by his teammates as he did not return to the game. He left to stick taps and a hand from the crowd as he worked his way off the ice.

The desperation level of St. Joe’s began to rise as the last 15 minutes of the third began. Hungry to keep their season alive they really kicked it into high gear.

They were close to an equalizer on the powerplay after a tripping minor to Malvern Prep but Crawford made three great saves to keep the score 2-1.

After failing to score on their first powerplay of the period, St. Joe’s was given another opportunity on the man advantage and this time they would not let the chance slip away. John Lynch buried a shortside wristshot at 12:26 making it 2-2 setting up a great finish to this semifinal game.

St. Joe's Prep goalie Jacob Aranda talks about what it means to win with this group of guys - PSD Video by Zac Wilson

Final seconds of SJP's 3-2 semifinal victory vs. Malvern Prep - PSD Video by Zac WIlson

St. Joe’s continued to feed off the energy from tying the game. Michael Castelli crashed the net and pounced on a rebound from a Ben Kursun shot and fired home a goal to give his team their first lead of the night, 3-2 with 6:53 to go in the third period.

Closing this one out was not going to be easy. Malvern Prep, desperate to keep their season alive, was able to draw a holding penalty and give their own powerplay a chance for the late tying goal. They created two great scoring chances that were shut down by Aranda who was playing his best hockey of the night in the third period when his team needed him the most.

St. Joe’s players have rallied around winning for the seniors on their team who will be elsewhere next year.

“I love this group of seniors we have this year, it means a lot to them, so it means a lot to us,” Aranda was quick to credit his older players.

St. Joe’s were able to survive the late push from Malvern Prep narrowly defeating them 3-2. The win set them up for a date with undefeated La Salle in this week's APAC league final.