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High School Ice Hockey:
Vikings Fall Short Against Malvern

Thursday, March 18, 2004

By Mike Costantino
SJSports Staff Writer

The Eastern Vikings lost to Malvern Prep 3-1 in the quarterfinal of the AAA Flyers Cup Tournament in action played at Iceline in West Chester, Pa. Malvern, a perennial powerhouse in high school hockey and the top seed in the tournament, are expected to win their fourth consecutive Flyers Cup, but someone forgot to tell the Vikings, and in particular Dan Myers. Myers faced 44 shots, many from close range and was spectacular in goal, keeping Eastern in the game. Midway through the first period, Brandon Tunstill scored from the slot to give Eastern a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, the only two people that did not see the goal go in were the “officials” on the ice. Clearly, this was a sign of things to come.

Coach Pontonio’s game plan was to utilize his top line and try to jump out early and then play defensive hockey with his other two lines. After the disallowed goal, Malvern broke through in the final minute of the period as Chris Campanale deflected home a pass from Justin Martin to put Malvern ahead 1-0. Eastern responded early in the second period as Anthony Orner won an offensive zone face-off and found Sean Sullivan along the side of the net and as he has done all year, Sullivan banged home the tying goal. After Campanale gave Malvern a 2-1 lead about three minutes later, during the celebration a Malvern player cross-checked Viking Anthony DeFino from behind and he lied motionless on the ice for several minutes. Medical assistance had to be called and seeing their fallen teammate carted off on a stretcher is something you are never prepared for. Taken to a local hospital, Anthony was undergoing several tests and his condition was unclear.

After only calling a two-minute penalty, the “officials” realizing the severity and by rule, assessed a game misconduct and increased the two minutes to five minutes. Eastern would now have a five-minute power play and a chance to tie the score. However two minutes were wiped out when Eastern was assessed a tripping penalty. Still with over three minutes left on the man advantage, they could only muster one shot on goal. This seems crucial and ultimately was the difference in the game as Eastern only had 14 shots on goal. Malvern went ahead 3-1 with just over four minutes left in the second period and Eastern would need to generate some offense in the third period to keep their hopes alive. The Vikings top line of Orner, Sullivan and Tunstill were logging significant ice time in an effort to create scoring opportunities, but Malvern, realizing this and not noticing any “officials” on the ice were able to man-handle the Vikings with no threat of any infraction.

Now do not get me wrong, the “officials” let too much go on both sides and you knew what eventually was coming. With about seven minutes left in the game after Sullivan was tackled at center ice and then thrown down, he took exception to the “infraction” and started defending himself. Another Malvern player would then take exception to Sullivan defending himself and proceeded to assist his teammate. Well Orner came to his teammate’s defense and showing his pugilistic ability, quickly disposed of the Prep player. Once the dust settled Eastern lost its top two players and any realistic chance of a comeback. By the way, the “officials” did not assess any additional penalties for tackling or instigation and took the easy way out and gave five minutes for fighting and game misconducts. Despite the loss, Eastern should be commended for wanting to play at the AAA level, despite being AA all season and their performance did the SJHSIHL proud.

Notes: Eastern graduates 10 seniors among them Dan Myers, remember that name because you just might see him playing in an arena near you. In addition, Orner, Sullivan and Tunstill move on, and whichever school they choose will be lucky to have them.

Photos by Matt Sacks

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