Tennent's Magical Postseason Run Comes to End in Flyers Cup Final

William Tennent saw its magical postseason run come to an end with an 8-3 loss to Downingtown East in the Flyers Cup final on Wednesday. Photos courtesy of Dara N. King Photography. Check back for a gallery of action photos...CLICK HERE to go directly to the SOS Ice Hockey Gallery.

By Ben Reese

HATFIELD -- At the end of the first period in the Flyers Cup final on Wednesday night, William Tennent was feeling pretty good.

After all, the Panthers, ranked No. 4, were leading No. 3 Downingtown East 1-0, and everything seemed to be going their way.

Even after the Cougars scored very early in the second period, Tennent came right back to regain the lead. However, in the end, it didn't hold up and Downingtown East captured the Flyers Cup with an 8-3 victory at Hatfield Ice.

"We jumped on them," Tennent coach Nick D'Aurizio said. "We were sticking to the game plan and we jumped on them.

"We knew we were being outshot (14-4 in the first period alone) but we knew we had them scared a little bit. I think they underestimated us a little bit coming out and then they realized that we were here to play, especially when we led 2-1.

"I think they realized they were in for a battle tonight, and they really just kind of stepped it up to another level. They kicked it into a second gear that we knew they had and we tried to weather it. That's a great hockey team."

The second gear came after the two teams had traded goals in the first three minutes of the second period. Alex Fox scored the first of his three goals for the Cougars and Jack McKeever came right back to give the Panthers the lead back at 2-1.

That was the end of Tennent's lead as - 55 seconds later - East tied the game again, this time at 2-2. After having a goal disallowed because of a crease violation, the Cougars scored four straight goals in the space of eight minutes to put the game away.

"We were definitely feeling on top of the world, no doubt," said Panther captain Chris Kreider of the early lead. "Then, unfortunately, reality set it."

Kreider and his coach both realized early on that East was a big, strong, fast, physical team.

"They were far deeper than us," Kreider said. "I feel that has been a problem all year especially when we played CB South because we knew how deep they were.

"It's hard to play with three lines when most teams are rolling four."

"That's a complete team right there," said D'Aurizio. "Size, speed, they can shoot the puck, you name it."

McKeever, who also scored the final goal of the game just as the buzzer sounded to end the third period, knew what happened in that second period.

"It's impossible to step on the ice for the Flyers Cup and not want to give it your all," he said. "I knew very well that it could be my last game as a high school player.

"Me and all my teammates went out with all that we had. It just wasn't enough in the end. They had speed, they had size and they weren't afraid to get physical. Shift after shift, you got hit and eventually it wears you down. Our younger guys, they kind of broke under the pressure, and that's when the turnovers happen and they got their bounces and the six-goal explosion kind of speaks for itself."

But it was a great ride while it lasted. Especially that first period.

With goalie Eric Lineman standing on his head, the Panthers kept thwarting any offensive effort that the Cougars put together and East kept putting the pressure on.

With 8:52 gone in the period, the Cougars were called for a penalty, giving Tennent a power play. A minute and 12 seconds later, Kreider batted the puck past a startled East goalie Jeffrey Cummings for the first and only goal of the stanza.

Fox tied thing up after 48 seconds of the second period. But McKeever got it back at the 2:33 mark before the deluge started. All told, Tennent was outshot 21-5 in the second period.

The Cougars kept up the pressure in the third, scoring twice, including once while short handed. McKeever finished things up with a goal at the very end.

Reaching the Flyers Cup final is quite an accomplishment for the Panthers. But it was just one more step in the process.

"We're the smallest AA school in the league and the second smallest AA school in the area," D'Aurizio said. "For us to accomplish what we did with those numbers (boys enrollment) is nothing short of spectacular. We went on a magical run and it was a fun ride."

McKeever gives all the credit to D'Aurizio.

"Nick says it all the time about how we came in as little freshmen," said McKeever. "Nick has said from Day One that he wanted to turn this program around. He knew from the beginning that we had the talent and we had the skill and we had the heart. It looks like he was right."

Kreider and McKeever were named to the all-tournament team. Joining them were Downingtown East's Fox, Harple, Stankiewicz and Cummings. Luca Pisani was named the Most Valuable Player.

Downingtown East 8, William Tennent 3
William Tennent                     1          1          1 – 3
Downingtown East                0          6          2 – 8
First period: 1, Chris Kreider WT (Sean Ovington) 10:04 PP.
Second period: 2, Alex Fox DE (Eric Stankiewicz, Michael Bolger) 0:48; 3, Jack McKeever WT (unassisted) 2:33; 4, Bolger (Harrison Layne) 3:28; 5, Luca Pisani DE (Layne, E. Stankiewicz) 5:12 PP; 6, Fox DE (unassisted) 8:47; 7, C.J. Boyd DE (E. Stankiewicz) 11:47; 8, Fox DE (Collin Harple, Justin Cohn) 13:12.
Third period: 9, Pisani DE (Layne) 0:49 SH; 10, Harple DE (unassisted) 7:33; 11, McKeever WT (S. Ovington) 17:00 PP.
Shots: WT 17, DE 40. Saves: Eric Lineman (WT) 32, Jeffrey Cummings (DE) 14.