After slow start, three goals late in first prove pivotal
By Dominic DiBiaggio, Correspondent, The Times
WEST CHESTER — Winter break is a fun time for all, but when a team has the kind of momentum that the Unionville High School boys hockey team had (9-0-1) heading into break, the time off can be unsettling.
All the momentum that the boys had could easily have dissipated, leaving them vulnerable to their first loss of the season. Making matters even worse, their first game back would be against the only team to put a blemish on their record: West Chester Henderson. Tying their first meeting, Unionville and Henderson were set to battle for the top of the Ches-Mont hockey league on Friday night.
Although the Indians (10-0-1) started a bit sluggishly, they held on for a tough 4-3 win over the Warriors.
Having not played a game for two weeks, the Unionville boys would inevitably have to shake off some rust before they got going in their rematch with Henderson. The Indians struggled to start the game, unable to clear the puck out of their zone as Henderson led a relentless attack on Josh Seder’s net. It took a couple minutes in the first, and an opposing goal scored by Chandler Liero for the Indians to finally realize that it wasn’t winter break anymore.
Leiro’s goal seemed to set a fire under the Indians’ first line of Matt Kowash, Gabe Masters and Nick Ward. Within a minute of the first goal, Nate Carlino’s slap shot was deflected by Matt Kowash into the net to tie the game. Then, right off the next faceoff, Court McLaughlin set up Masters for his first goal of the night. The Indians looked to be returning to form, making a statement as they began to dominate the only team that had come close to beating them.
While the Indians still had momentum, they needed to add as many goals as they could if they wanted to stave off the Warriors’ goal-hungry line of Liero, Drew Wallace, and Eric Carreras. On a powerplay late in the first, Masters buried another wrist shot on assists by Ward and Danny Donovan. While the Indians were leading the Warriors 3-1, it was obvious that the game was not over because the Warriors are too talented to go down without a fight.
The play early in the second was very physical, characteristic of two top teams battling for control of the puck. Hits by Dylan Knox of Henderson and John Kumpf of Unionville had the crowd on its feet in amazement. Henderson began to control the puck as the period went on, firing 15 shots to Unionville’s 5 in the period. As Henderson created chance after chance, they finally were able to slip the puck by Seder. Sean Miller was able to find Drew Wallace on a powerplay in front of the net for Henderson’s second goal.
The Indians’ first line would not be bested, however. On another display of fine passing, Nick Ward found himself in front of the net with only him and the goalie. He slipped the puck right by Henderson goalie Devon Strachan for what would prove to be the game-winning goal as the Indians stretched their lead to two goals.
The third period only saw one goal (Eric Beren) for Henderson, but the Warriors did everything they could to tie the game up. In a wild finish, it was not the Indians’ defense that wrapped up the game, but special play from their goalie Josh Seder. Seder made saves with just about every part of his body, including some dazzling stops with his glove hand.
When asked about his performance in the third period, Seder said, “When they had 30 shots by the end of the second, I knew the third was going to be long one… I just tried to focus on one shot at a time.”
Seder ended the game with an eye-opening 44 saves on 47 shots, and Strachan ended with 25 on 29. The Indians look to keep rolling as they take on Boyertown next Friday, and Henderson looks to rebound against Methacton on Monday.