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High School Ice Hockey:
Delran Bears Win Phantom Cup

Sunday, March 19, 2000

By Philip Cohn
SJSports Special Correspondent

This year's Phantom Cup was played at the Ice Works Twin Rinks in Aston, PA. There were eight teams which made up two divisions. The teams from Sterling, Delco Knights, Conwell-Egan, and Haverford made up the first division. The second division was made up of the teams from Delran, Ridley, Archbishop Wood, and Downingtown. Sterling and Delran represented the South Jersey High School Ice Hockey League.

The Phantom Cup tournament required the teams to play each other within their divisions, and then the first and second place finishers would play the other division winners. First place played second place and the winners of the semi-finals played for the Phantom Cup.

The standings after the first three games were:

 W  L  T 

 W  L  T 
Delco Knights201
Archbishop Wood001

The Semifinal Round was Downingtown against Conwell-Egan, and the Delco Knights against Delran. Downingtown and Conwell-Egan played to a 1 to 1 tie through three periods and one 5 minute sudden death. It came down to a shoot out, and Conwell-Egan prevailed. The Delco Knights and Delran game was initially all Delran, and then Delco tied the score all within the first period. The second and third period were all Delran's as the final was 7 to 3.

The Phantom Cup finals found a cocky Conwell-Egan Team against a happy to be here Delran team. This game started out with Conwell-Egan scoring first, only to be tied and then passed in the first period. The second period was all Conwell-Egan, and they led by a score of 5 to 2 after two periods. Then the "Do you Believe in Miracles" Delran team played their hearts out and scored 4 unanswered goals to win the Phantom Cup by a final score of 6 to 5.

Delran's Story:

Game #1 was against Archbishop Wood. Delran had no idea what to expect, so they all came out skating hard and playing smart. In the first period there was one goal scored by Pat Nitka with assists from Dan Stapelkamp and Nate Wilson. The team played great hockey and out shot the opponent by 11 to 3. The second period found Delran still going at a high intensity level and they were able to add another goal. This goal was scored by Chris Mirabella with an assist from Ian Michaelchuck. Again Delran out shot the opponent by a 15 to 8 margin. In the third, Delran turned up the intensity from high to overdrive and they added 5 goals. Delran goal scorers were Chris Mirabella (2), Anthony Leusner, Nate Wilson, James McDevitt, and Pat Nitka (2). The assists went to Dan Stapelkamp (2), Nate Wilson (2), Ian Michaelchuck (2), Davis Schwedes, Pat Nitka, Tim Schwedes, and Chris Smargisso. Archbishop Wood scored a goal in the third period to make the final score 7 to 1. Mark Stapelkamp played a strong game in goal facing a total of 22 shots. Delran had 37 shots on goal. Chris Mirabella was given the Star of the Game Award for his performance.

Game #2 was against Downingtown. This was a hard fought game, but Delran was out skated by a good team. They out shot Delran, and the final score was 4 to 1 Downingtown. Delran's only score was from Dave Schwedes with assist to Chris Mirabella. The shots on goal were 27 for Downingtown and 15 for Delran.

Game #3 was against Ridley. This was a physical game which challenged the referees to keep it under control. The first period was all Delran with goals from Pat Nitka, assists to Bryan Jewell and Tim Schwedes, and a goal from James McDevitt with an assist to Anthony Leusner. In the second period, Delran added another goal from Nate Wilson, assisted by Pat Nitka and Dan Stapelkamp. Ridley then answered with two rapid goals to bring the score to 3 to 2. Delran wasn't done and added two more goals from Justin Radziemski, assists from Chris Mirabella and Bryan Jewell, and then Nate Wilson with assists going to Pat Nitka and Dan Stapelkamp. The third period was scoreless, and the final score was 5 to 2. The game was marred by a fight at the end of the game in which Ridley players were accessed a Gross and two Game Misconducts. Delran's Dave Schwedes was given a Game when he tried to intervene to help his brother. Nate Wilson was award the Player of the Game.

The Semi Final Game found Delran facing the first place finisher in the other group. This was the Delco Knights. This game found Delran facing a very physical team but it also found us playing with what can only be described as the best referees the team has ever seen. This team of referees insisted that hockey be played and any deviation was quickly punished. As it turns out, if allowed to play hockey, Delran is a good team. The first period found Delran jumping to a 3 to 0 lead only to be tied before the period ended. Delran's first two goals were scored by Pat Nitka. One goal was unassisted and the second was assisted by James McDevitt. The third goal was from Nate Wilson with assists from Chris Mirabella and Tim Schwedes. The second and third period were all Delran. The Delco Knights were spending a good deal of time short handed. The final score was 7 to 3. Delran's goals were from James McDevitt, Chris Smargisso, Justin Radziemski, and Pat Nitka for the hat trick. Assists went to Andy Cohn, Pat Nitka, and Chris Mirabella. Mark Stapelkamp played a very strong game in goal face 22 shots. Delran out shot the Delco Knights by 37 to 22. The Player of the Game was Pat Nitka.

The Phantom Cup Finals found Delran facing the team from Conwell-Egan. They had won their right to play in the finals by playing three periods and a 5 minute sudden death against the Downingtown team to a 1 to 1 tie. A shootout was the deciding factor and they easily won that. This game was another one that found Delran thinking, "Wow, can you believe it!" Fortunately, once the game started it was a different story. Conwell Egan started off scoring a goal, but Delran answered with two quick goals from Pat Nitka to end the period. The first goal was assisted by Nate Wilson while the second was unassisted. The second period was all Conwell-Egan. They scored 4 goals and led the game 5 to 2 after two periods. What does a young team do when behind by 3 goals? The answer was to shut out the opposition and score 4 goals to win the game and the Phantom Cup by a final score of 6 to 5. Delran's goals were scored by James McDevitt, Justin Radziemski (assist from Dave Schwedes) and two goals from Chris Mirabella. The last one and game winner was assisted by Pat Nitka. Shots on Goal were not recorded, but Championship play was exhibited by Mark Stapelkamp and the whole Delran team.

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