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ICE HOCKEY: La Salle Culminates Season as 3A Flyers Cup Champs and State Runner-Up

By Zac Wilson & Morgan Killian Moseley Photos: Zack Beavers, 04/02/24, 12:45PM EDT


Photos: Zack Beavers/Zac Wilson

By: Zac Wilson

HATFIELD, PA – The La Salle Explorers continued their dominant stretch of high school hockey, capturing their second straight Flyers Cup defeating Malvern Prep 6-3 on March 20th. 

For a group of 11 seniors, being able to hoist the trophy twice together is a memory they will always cherish. 

La Salle College High School wins second straight 3A Flyers Cup in a 6-3 victory over Malvern Prep - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers

“It’s awesome, it’s a great feeling going back to back with this group,” La Salle defensemen Cameron Ross said. 

Ross was also the recipient of the Bobby Clarke tournament MVP award, and voted to the All-Tournament Team to cap off a dominant high school career that came to a close in the state finals three days later.

Also named to the All-Tournament team were his teammates, forwards Grant LaGreca, and James Carpenter along with goalie Jacob Rossi.

Two members of Malvern Prep also received All-Tournament team honors. Forward Jeremy Jacobs, who led the tournament in scoring with 6 points in three games, and defensemen Brady Doyle.

La Salle, as they have all season, came out flying in the first period. They fired the first seven shots of the game and really had Malvern Prep on their heels to start this one. 

Ryan Wiley jumped all over a Matthew Crawford rebound in the slot and put La Salle up 1-0 just four minutes into the game. 

Before anyone in the sold out crowd was able to sit down, La Salle struck again. Malvern Prep was unable to clear the front of their net again and Benjamin Falicki buried a rebound off a Charles Kennedy shot putting his team up 2-0 sending the Raiders crowd into a frenzy 

The first period barrage from La Salle continued with two more goals from Cameron Ross and Grant LaGreca 23 seconds apart forcing a Malvern Prep timeout who was now facing a 4-0 deficit still in the first frame. 

The timeout from Malvern Prep head coach Bill Keenan seemed to spark his team, they started to really move their feet and cycle the puck leading to a power play late in the first after a La Salle hooking penalty. 

Jeremy Jacobs dragged a pass from Brady Doyle across the blue line and fired home a perfectly placed wrist shot that beat Jacob Rossi over the glove making it a 4-1 game and giving Malvern Prep its first real momentum of the game with less than a minute to go in the first.

The game appeared ready to tilt in Malvern Preps favor to start the second period. They were given their second straight power play less than a minute into the middle frame poised to get within two.

Big time players make big time plays in big games. 

Ross, seemingly able to feel the momentum tilting away from his team, knew a play had to be made. 

The La Salle defenseman took the puck while short handed from behind his own blue line,  down the wing into Malvern territory before cutting on a dime leaving himself alone with Crawford.

His shot just dribbled through giving his team back the four goal lead two minutes into the period. 

“We didn’t let off the gas after that,” Ross said.

Malvern Prep’s effort was never an issue in this game. Down four goals once again, they were able to strike for their second goal of the night. 

Pax Hoishik wired home his first of the tournament just 3 minutes later putting them down 5-2.

Goaltenders Crawford and Rossi held serve the rest of the middle frame.

Malvern Prep took two penalties in the third period, an early delay of game penalty that they were able to kill off after a few point blank saves from Crawford. 

Cameron Ross scores his second goal to give La Salle a 5-2 edge over Malvern Prep in the 2024 Flyers Cup Championship - PSD Video by Zac Wilson

Defenseman Cameron Ross talks about what it means to win with this group of guys - PSD Video by Zac Wilson

Finals seconds of the 2024 Flyers Cup 3A Final: La Salle 6 - Malvern Prep 3 - PSD Video by Zack Beavers

It was a tripping penalty with 6:34 to go that handed La Salle the opportunity to put this game away.

30 seconds into the power play, Charles Kennedy beat Crawford to the post on a wrap around putting La Salle up 6-2 with just six minutes to go.

Jonathan Holt added a Malvern Prep goal with under a minute to go making it a 6-3 final. He was tremendous all night with two assists and a goal. 

Rossi finished with 31 saves on the night while Crawford had 36 for Malvern Prep. Freshman goalie Riley Doyle made 5 saves in a brief appearance in the third period for Malvern too. 

La Salle Loses OT Heartbreaker in Pennsylvania Cup Final

Photos/Videos: Zack Beavers & Morgan Killian-Moseley

By: Morgan Killian-Moseley

HAVERFORD, PA - The Flyers Cup champion La Salle College High Explorers gave everything they had in the Pennsylvania Cup finals at the Haverford Skatium on March 23 against the Penguins Cup champion Pine Richland Rams; coming oh, so close to successfully repeating as state champions. But Pine Richland was able to respond after coughing up a 3-0 lead, tying the game with less than two minutes left in regulation and delivering the title-winner just over seven minutes into overtime for a 5-4 win that earned them their first Pennsylvania Cup in 16 years.

The Rams struck first just under six minutes into the game, as junior forward Josh Lanyard was able to slip a tough angle shot past LCH junior goaltender Jake Rossi, possibly off the sprawled-out Rossi’s leg, for the opening marker. Senior assistant captain Ben Baileys and sophomore Cullen Campbell picked up the assists on the play.

The Explorers would get a chance to even things out on the power play 25 seconds later, as P.R.’s Colten Andrighetti was called for a roughing minor. But that man advantage would be cut short, as La Salle senior Charlie Kennedy would be booked for cross-checking 40 seconds in.

La Salle's Dean Carvalho #17 tries to get one past Pine Richland goaltender Brett Sudac - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers

Neither team could score on the 4-on-4, nor could Pine Richland come through on their abbreviated power play once Andrighetti was released. La Salle would get another power play opportunity soon after Kennedy’s penalty expired, as junior forward A.J. Verszyla was assessed a crosschecking penalty, but again the Explorers could not take advantage.

With under five minutes left in the 1st, Rams senior captain Zach Howard would start a 2-on-2 rush off a takeaway in the Pine Richland zone. Rossi would make the stop on Howard, but the freshman Andrighetti would bury the rebound to give the Rams a 2-0 lead that would hold for the remainder of the period.

Early in the 2nd period, Lanyard would take advantage of a spinning backhand pass off of Campbell’s stick, sliding one home under Rossi’s right pad from the low slot to push the Pine Richland lead to 3-0; sophomore defenseman Adam Proctor picked up the secondary assist, as his pass off the boards allowed Campbell to make the entry pass to Lanyard.

Three gut punches like that might do a lesser team in, but the defending champions weren't going roll over and play dead. LCH’s Julian Tarsi came through with a response 45 seconds later, deflecting a point shot from senior d-man Thomas Doucet over the blocker of Rams junior goalie Brett Sudac to get the Explorers on the board.  

Just under a minute later, Verszyla was called for his second minor of the game, this one for hooking; though it could as easily have been called high-sticking as Verszyla's stick blade was right near the face shield of LCH’s Ryan Wiley.

The Explorers had many chances to get the “proximate goal.” And it took a weird sequence of bounces, but freshman forward Alistair St. Hilaire, who had the secondary assist on Tarsi’s goal, was able to find a way to tip one home with just two seconds left in the man advantage to cut La Salle’s deficit to one. The Rams protested, saying the puck had been tipped with a high stick; but the officials, after discussion, disagreed.

The teams, as one would expect, delivered some hard hits throughout the contest. Verszyla got hit for his third minor of the night for a slash on La Salle senior d-man Charlie Budd with about five minutes remaining in the middle stanza, but La Salle’s Grant LaGreca was sent to the box for roughing as well for a big hit against the boards on Pine Richland junior forward Isaac Baker. The offsetting minors kept the teams at 5-on-5 for the next face-off, but 15 seconds later P.R.’s Campbell would get sent in for hooking Michael Zarzycki; which would put the Blue and Gold on the power play. And the Explorers would deliver a quick strike for the equalizer, as nine seconds into the power play senior forward Pat Brace would take a perfect pass from Doucet and slip it under the glove of Sudac to knot things up at 3-all.

After the goal, however, La Salle’s Wiley was sent off for roughing, immediately putting the Green and White on a power play of their own. But the Explorers penalty kill unit upped the pressure, keeping the Rams out of the La Salle zone for most of Wiley’s minor.

Michael Zarzycki #28 celebrates alongside teammate Patrick Brace after Brace scored to tie the game 3-3 in the second period - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers

With 31 seconds left in the period, the junior LaGreca had a streaking chance on net, but Sudac was able to get across and stone him, then made the spiraling stop on a rebound by junior d-man Cameron Ross, pinning the puck under himself to keep it out of the net. Ross’s proximity to Sudac drew the ire of Ram senior d-man Aiden Tarasovich. The two traded shoves after the whistle and were both sent to the sin bin for roughing.

At the tail end of the 2nd, LCH junior defenseman Will Gregorio delivered a heavy hit to Verszyla, which had Verszyla slow to get up, and things looked like they might get ugly. The officials sent the teams to the locker room separately and Gregorio was given a roughing minor; possibly for the fact that Gregorio stepped over Verszyla a la Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals.

La Salle would of course start the 3rd period a man down, but the Explorers lived up to their title of Flyers Cup champions as they took a page from the pros’ book and sent the “power kill” to work. The Blue and Gold put constant pressure on Pine Richland, and late in the man advantage a clearance from junior defenseman Declan Kelly sprung senior forward Will Carpenter along the right boards for a breakaway. Carpenter surged in on net and wristed it past Sudac blocker side for a shorthanded goal to give the Explorers a 4-3 lead, their first lead of the night.

James Carpenter #27 scores to give La Salle a 4-3 lead in the third period - PSD Video by Zack Beavers

Just after the minor to Gregorio expired, Doucet was sent to the box for a crosscheck on Pine Richland junior forward Carson Parkhill. Both teams traded chances on that Ram man advantage, and they traded heavy hits as well. Pine Richland senior d-man Logan Kozak hammered LCH’s Kennedy behind the Ram net with 30 seconds left on the power play, while LaGreca walloped P.R. sophomore defenseman Doug Van Meter in the neutral zone nearly 20 seconds later. It took a few seconds after the whistle blew, but Van Meter was able to rise to his feet and get to the bench; returning later in the game.

The action stayed intense throughout. Carpenter would receive a roughing minor with less than four and a half minutes remaining in regulation, and the Rams would crank up the pressure on the man advantage, but again the Explorer “power kill” would create an opportunity. Tarsi cut off a pass and sent his own stretch pass to a waiting Dean Carvalho. The senior forward evaded Baileys and Tarasovich and streaked in on net, but Tarasovich was able to close out enough that Carvalho fired high over the glass. LCH finished the PK off unscathed yet again.

La Salle College High School 2024 PA 3A Championship squad - PSD PSD Photo by Zack Beavers

With 2:07 left in regulation, Van Meter and Zarzycki would get into extracurricular activity yet again in the Pine Richland zone. Both would receive a minor for roughing, but since Zarzycki continued to press the issue long after the fact, shoving Van Meter while down on the ice, Zarzycki had a 10-minute misconduct tacked on as well.

With the La Salle supporters chanting “Free Zarzycki,” Pine Richland co-head coaches Jordan Yoklic and J.R. Hess used their timeout to settle things down. After a chance by St. Hilaire went wide, the Rams dumped and chased- and pulled Sudac for the extra attacker. Campbell took a pass from Howard in the right slot but could not get a shot away. But the Explorers couldn’t clear the zone, and Lanyard pounced on the loose puck, burying it past Rossi to tie the game, and complete his hat trick, with 97 seconds left.

Kennedy had multiple chances in those final 97 seconds to deliver for the Explorers but couldn’t get anything on net. The final seconds drained away, and overtime had arrived.

LCH had multiple chances for the winner in the first two minutes of the extra period; Carvalho picked off a pass from Andrighetti and found Tarsi on the doorstep 109 seconds in, but Tarsi’s tip went right into the breadbasket of Sudac and no rebound followed.

The Explorers continued to hammer away on the forecheck, but the Ram defense displayed their toughness; blocking shots, forcing shots off-target, and clogging the shooting and passing lanes. Brace had a chance on a breakaway four and a half minutes into overtime on two sharp passes from Wiley and Kennedy, but again Tarasovich was able to close enough distance to ensure the attacker didn’t get a good shot away; allowing an easy save for Sudac.

La Salle head coach Wally Muehlbronner was extremely proud of his team and seniors for all of their accomplishments during the season - PSD Video by Morgan Killian Moseley

Pine Richland would get a massive opportunity a few moments later, as Campbell swiped the puck from Budd in the La Salle zone. Gregorio, diving to stop him, got his stick on the puck but got Campbell as well. The whistles stayed silent however, and LCH had a counter-rush chance as senior forward Ben Falicki sent a pass ahead for LaGreca. But Falicki put a little too much sauce on it; LaGreca couldn’t get to it, and Sudac paddled it aside. A few moments later, St. Hilaire was able to grab the puck in the Pine Richland zone and looked to set up Tarsi; but Sudac’s sliding efforts knocked the net off its moorings, forcing a whistle.

On the ensuing faceoff, the La Salle forecheck again tried to ramp up the pressure but couldn’t get anything of substance off. Van Meter shoveled the puck out of the right corner, and Verszyla was able to tip it at the blue line to freshman forward Noah Taggart, who surged into the La Salle zone. Taggart snapped a shot off through Doucet’s legs. Rossi was able to make the stop but couldn’t corral the rebound, nor could Doucet or Ross. The trailing Verszyla chipped the puck home over the prone Rossi to end it with 9:52 left in overtime. For Verszyla, who had taken three penalties and the bone-rattling hit from Gregorio prior to his title-winning goal, it was sweet, sweet redemption. For the Rams, the sweetest victory. And for the Explorers, the bitterest defeat.

Pine Richland outshot La Salle 34-26, 13-5, in the 3rd period. Sudac made 22 saves for the victorious Rams. Rossi made 29 stops in a valiant effort for the Explorers.

La Salle may prefer to play at 5-on-5, but their special teams came up huge for them in this game, as they had all season. The Explorer power play went 2-for-4, while the penalty kill stopped all five Ram man advantages and netted Carpenter’s shorty that gave them the lead that they held for most of the 3rd period.

“Pine Richland played a great game, they brought it,” said La Salle head coach Wally Muehlbronner. “We showed a lot of character coming back from being down 3-0 to taking a lead that we just couldn’t hold on to.

“I’m just really proud of the guys,” Muehlbronner continued. “We’ve had a heck of a year. We were very consistent from start to finish this season, the guys played hard for each other, they really jelled. They love playing for each other, they love representing La Salle, and they did it at high level. But the seniors are an awesome group and did an awesome job leading this year, and they’ve left their mark in a positive way on our program. Hopefully, some of the younger guys learned how [the seniors] did things, the seriousness in their approach to the game, and how much they love playing for each other and this school. Hopefully [the returning players] learn from that and they’ll be ready to get back at it next season. It’s a long year, [you get] a little break and [then get] back at it.”

They may have fallen just short of their goal of repeating as Pennsylvania Cup champions, but the 11 graduating seniors can take pride in the fact that they left everything they had on the ice. As for the returning players, there will be plenty of motivation for next season.