|High School Ice Hockey:
Township Reaches Finals as Cherokee Suffers First Loss
Monday, February 20, 2006
By Mike Costantino
Christian Biscardi scored with six minutes left in the game as Washington Township rallied to defeat Cherokee 5-4 in a battle of two undefeated teams in the double elimination tournament. With the win Township now moves into the finals, Cherokee will face Moorestown and the winner will play Township for the championship. This was a playoff game that had everything you want, hard hitting, great goaltending, end-to-end action and minimal penalties, and played in front of a packed house. Cherokee jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period scoring two goals in less than a minute, first Justin Kinniry scored on a short-handed breakaway, then at the end of the power play, Matt Cardillo scored on a breakaway and just seven minutes into the game and a 2-0 lead it looked like Cherokee was going to run away from Township.
But Derek Anderson, starting in nets for Township, made several huge saves to keep his team close. Township broke through late in the period on the power play as David Moore deflected a shot by Joseph Santine from the point, and with that Township was back in the game at 2-1. Anderson made two key saves in the final seconds to keep the score at 2-1. With Township seemingly with the momentum, Dave Smetaniuk stole the puck in the corner and fed Chris Coleman in the slot, and his quick shot found the net and tied the game at 2-2. Township took the lead with under two minutes left in the period as David Henninger scored, but Cherokee came right back, with a two-man advantage, Charles Lotierzo, walked out from the corner and found the short-side open and his goal tied the game at 3-3. Still with time left on the second penalty, Cherokee began the third period on the power play and Dan Maugieri capitalized and Cherokee led 4-3.
Surprisingly, Coach Rohach, pulled Anderson in favor of Joe Scafisi, in a move that initially was puzzling, but Scafisi played outstanding and did not surrender any more goals. Township tied the score about four minutes later as Thomas Dispaldo got the goal on a feed from Smetaniuk. With both teams pressing, Township got the go-ahead goal as Biscardi ripped a shot from the slot just under the crossbar. Cherokee pulled the goalie in the final minute but could not get enough pressure in front.
Notes: Having gone the entire season without a loss, Cherokee must now win three games in a row in order to retain their title. First up, Moorestown, then they have to beat Township twice, a tough task, but they have the talent.