Pennsbury Stuns CR South in Flyers Cup Semifinals

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#5 Pennsbury 7, #1 Council Rock South 5

There is a world of difference between “hadn’t” and “couldn’t.”

Just because Pennsbury hadn’t defeated Council Rock South in three meetings this season, there wasn’t a player or coach on the bench who believed the Falcons couldn’t pull out a win.

Even when the top-seeded Golden Hawks took a 4-1 lead early in the second period of Monday’s Flyers Cup Class AA semifinal at Hatfield Ice, the Falcons never wavered.

Picking up the forecheck, taking advantage of South errors, and peppering Golden Hawks goalkeeper Carson Lopez with 41 shots, the Falcons roared back, knotting the score at 4-4 in the final minute of the second period, then pulling ahead early in the third and earning a berth in Tuesday’s Class AA Flyers Cup final with a stunning 7-5 victory.

“We told them at the end of the first period, we were down 2-0, I always tell them, ‘I’m not worried about our ability to score goals. We’re never out of it,’” Pennsbury coach Ryan Daley said. “They know we’re never out of it, sometimes you’ve just got to straighten out the little things. They never quit, they went into that extra gear. Lopez is the best goalie in this league, no doubt about it, but I firmly believe we’re the best offense in this league, and when we’re clicking, I think we’re the only team that can get 7 on them and tonight we were clicking.”

“I think we’re the best offense in the league, and if anyone was going to come back against a team like that, it was us,” Falcons’ senior captain Brendan Macainsh said. “In the beginning, we weren’t forechecking as hard, once we started forechecking, making them make mistakes instead of waiting for them to make them, they started turning it over, we got our chances. This game, we executed to perfection.”

The Falcons’ rally began from an unlikely source. Sophomore Stephen Grosscup scored on the rebound of a Macainsh shot to cut the Hawks’ lead to 4-2, giving the Falcons some much-needed momentum with 5:24 left in the second period.

“I think the biggest goal of the game that turned our mindset around was Steve Grosscup’s goal. It was a dirty goal in front that he worked for,” Daley said. “He’s a guy who works as hard as anyone. It might not show on the scoresheet every night, but he did his job, got rewarded, and everyone was on fire after that.”

The Falcons survived a two-minute penalty shortly thereafter on Andrew Falkenstein and pulled back to within one goal when Falkenstein stepped out of the sin bin to take a long Justin Marlin outlet pass and flew into the South zone two-on-one with Macainsh.

Falkenstein hit Macainsh with the pass, and the Falcons’ leading scorer made no mistake in beating Lopez to make it a 4-3 game with 2:34 left in the second. Macainsh knotted the score at 4-4 with 57 seconds left when he fired a long shot from the side of the net that hit a body in front and bounced right back to him. Macainsh made his rebound count, and the teams went into the break deadlocked.

Falcon goalkeeper Aaron McDonald made a few huge saves early in the third as part of a

32-save evening, and Falkenstein gave Pennsbury its first lead of the night when he scored off a Chris Sarver assist less than 6 minutes into the final period. Marlin followed 5 minutes later on a great solo effort for an unassisted goal to give Pennsbury a bit of breathing room.

South cut the lead back to one goal at 6-5 when Illia Mukhin picked the top corner (Kevin Koles, Lopez assists), but Falkenstein capped off his first hat trick with 2:01 left when he did the same, picking the top corner off an assist from Logan Doyle.

“It means everything - this is my first hat trick ever, and to be able to get those goals in a game that means this much … I feel so good right now,” Falkenstein said. “That third period was the longest … every second felt like a whole day out there. But we believed in ourselves, our younger guys really stepped it up, it was amazing.”

The second half was a stark contrast to the way the game started. Though the Falcons maintained an advantage in shots throughout most of the game, South led 2-0 after a solid first period that saw Jake Weiner (Jeremy Rayher, Jake Maurer assists) open the scoring 8 minutes into the game and James DiIulio (Blaize Pepe, Kevin Koles assists) scoring on his own rebound in a netmouth scramble on the power play as time expired in the first period.

Falkenstein’s first of the night (Chris Sarver, Logan Doyle assists) on the power play cut the lead to 2-1, but South responded 66 seconds later when Koles scored off a feed from Illia Mukhin. Less than 3 minutes later, Rayher poked home an errant rebound (Weiner, Maurer assists) to give South a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead.

Insurmountable to anyone except the Falcons.

With the victory, Pennsbury advances to its first ever Flyers Cup Class AA final.

“We’ve been trying to get here so long, we’ve always had good teams but always came up just a bit short,” said four-year starter Macainsh. “We’re the first team to ever make it here, it was historic to make it, now we’re ready to take it further.”

“I’m feeling so pumped, we’re all pumped right now,” Falkenstein said. “But we know the job’s not done yet.”

With the victory, the Falcons improve to 17-6 overall. They will advance to their first Class AA Flyers Cup final against another familiar opponent. Second seed Pennridge awaits the Falcons following a decisive 7-0 victory over Owen J. Roberts in their semifinal game. Pennsbury took two of the three meetings between the teams this season (6-3 Pennsbury on Nov. 3; 11-4 Pennridge on Jan. 12; 8-5 Pennsbury on March 1).

“These Flyers Cup games have all been stressful games,” said Daley, whose Falcons rallied in the third period and scored the overtime game-winner in a quarterfinal matchup against Conestoga before ending Council Rock South’s (19-2-0-1 overall) season in the semifinal thriller. “The final score of our games indicates how tight they are. That’s the cool thing about this tournament, everyone has a chance, and right now we’re just playing really good hockey. That’s what you want this time of year. ”

Pennsbury                    0-4-3    7
Council Rock South       2-2-1    5
First period: 1. Jake Weiner CRS (Jeremy Rayher, Jake Maurer) 8:57; 2. James DiIulio CRS (Blaize Pepe, Kevin Koles) PP, 0:00.
Second period: 3. Andrew Falkenstein Pb (Chris Sarver, Logan Doyle) PP, 13:57; 4. Kevin Koles CRS (Illia Mukhin) 12:51; 5. Jeremy Rayher CRS (Jake Weiner, Jake Maurer) 10:19; 6. Stephen Grosscup Pb (Brendan Macainsh) 5:24; 7. Brendan Macainsh Pb (Andrew Falkenstein, Justin Marlin) 2:34; 8. Brendan Macainsh Pb (Justin Marlin) PP, 0:57.
Third period: 9. Andrew Falkenstein Pb (Chris Sarver) 11:15; 10. Justin Marlin Pb (unassisted) 6:41; 11. Illia Mukhin CRS (Kevin Koles, Carson Lopez) 3:39; 12. Andrew Falkenstein Pb (Logan Doyle) 2:01.
Shots on goal: Pennsbury 41, Council Rock South 37. Saves: Aaron McDaniel (Pb) 32; Carson Lopez (CRS) 34.