Against Central Bucks South in the Suburban High School Hockey League (SHSHL), Pennridge knew it couldn’t waste opportunities.
It was going to be a tense, tight, few opportunity night for the Rams and the four-time defending champion Titans on Hatfield Ice.
Pennridge posted a win and a tie in two previous meetings against CB South this season.
Pennridge made the most of its chances, and it then allowed its defense and goaltending to do the rest.
The Rams (14-2-3) captured their second overall title and first since 2008 with a 2-0 shutout over the Titans (13-4-2) Feb. 28. Goalie Luke Stranick recorded 40 saves and Matt Guinette and Michael Eissler each found the net for the Rams.
Head coach Jeff Montagna saw Guinette’s power-play goal on a two-man advantage in the opening period as a key to victory.
“We had a five-on-three power play and we had to take advantage of it,” said Montagna. “That was a gigantic lift for us. It was a close, tight-checking game up until that point.
“A win against South made it all much sweeter.”
Pennridge didn’t waste any time in the second period as it added an insurance goal 3:30 in the period when Eissler flicked a shot past CB South goalie Oscar Levin.
“South began to really turn it on at that point,” added Montagna. “We didn’t have to panic with two goals. We began to put South back on their heels.”
Montagna was pleased his club rallied offensively with leading scorer Eric Slater in a scoring funk having one goal in three playoff games.
“He (Slater) is a big key for us,” said Montagna. “For us to win and him not being in the mix for us is a big confidence booster for us.”
From there, Stranick and the Rams’ defense were the difference as they shut down CB South’s potent attack, thwarting three power plays and turning away 13 shots in the final period.
“Luke (Stranick) was stopping everything and our defense blocked a ton of shots,” said Montagna. “We didn’t give them any second or third chances, and we cleaned everything up in front.”
CB South head coach Shaun McGinty, who couldn’t attend the game due to a business obligation, acknowledged his club didn’t make an impact.
“It was a good game,” said McGinty. “Our shots were there, but we just needed to find the back of the net.
“We have had a good run. Our focus now is on the Flyers Cup.”
With the win, Pennridge continued its stellar second-half run. Since a loss to Father Judge on Jan 3 – their second of the season after a loss to Neshaminy Nov. 14 – the Rams are undefeated in 11 straight games (9-0-2).
They looked to take that momentum as the fourth seed Wednesday in the opening round of the Flyers Cup against 13th-seeded Garnet Valley, while second-seeded CB South faced 15th-seeded Downingtown West at Revolution Ice Gardens the same night (results unavailable at presstime).