An active first period from Unionville's shooters proved to be the difference as the Indians outlasted divisional rival Avon Grove, 2-1, last Friday night at Ice Line in a Ches-Mont League high school ice hockey game.It was the first-ever regular-season match-up between the natural rivals.
"This is a big southern Chester County rivalry," said Unionville coach John Donovan. "It's nice to see us come out and play them well because not only are they going to be tough because we are rivals, but they are one of the top teams in our division."
After putting on an offensive zone clinic to start the first period, Indians' sophomore Jacob Quinn finally got his team on the board at 13:22, when a shot from the point by Jeffrey Juric bounced around the crease and eventually onto the stick of Quinn, who buried it into the open net. Zach Emerson helped clear the way in front to give Unionville the 1-0 lead.
With 4:22 remaining in the opening stanza Unionville (1-0 league, 2-0 overall) attacked again. Joe Lisicky got the Indians some insurance when a pass by captain Jeffrey Neiburg from behind the Devils' net landed on the stick of Lisicky, who quickly put it past Kevin Propst (23 saves) to give Unionville the 2-0 lead.
The Indians unleashed 15 shots in the first period compared to Avon Grove's six.
"It was a lack of determination today," said Avon Grove junior forward Danny Shirilla. "Some people were giving it their all and some weren't. The first period was very slow for us and although we picked it up as the game went on, you can't start off slow like that against the better teams in the league."
The Devils (3-1 overall, 3-1 league) stopped the bleeding the rest of the contest, giving up only eight shots the next two periods.
At 12:09 in the third period, Shirilla gave his team some life when an intended pass in the slot bounced off the shin of an Indians'defender and landed back on the stick of Shirilla, who put it past Unionville goalie Stephen Kelly (21 saves) to make the score 2-1.
"I was trying to get the pass over and it deflected on the shin pad of a defender," said Shirilla. "The puck came back on my stick cleanly, and I noticed the goalie had gone down, so I just took the shot and it went in."
Avon Grove coach John Scott respected the effort of his squad, but cited youth as a culprit to the slow start.
"Our youth really showed today," he said. "We only have three seniors on our team and this was one of the biggest games we've played. The kids didn't give up and we're ecstatic that we're 3-1, and we need to come back on Monday ready to move on."