Unionville escapes in ICSHL playoff opener

Staff photos by Tom Kelly IV Unionville players huddle up between the second and third periods during the Flyers Cup girls hockey playoff game between Unionville and Lansdale Catholic at Ice Line in West Goshen, Thursday night March 6, 2014.

WEST GOSHEN – Coming into the semifinal game, the Unionville High School girls ice hockey team averaged five goals per game, but they needed just one to beat Lansdale Catholic in the Inter Country Scholastic Hockey League playoff opener on Thursday night at IceLine.

On the other side of the ice, Unionville's defense allowed only 22 goals all season, the fewest in the division.

That strong defensive play is what helped the girls pull out the win, especially in the third period when they had to kill off a 5-on-3.

'We have phenomenal defense,' said Unionville captain Jordan Hagerty. 'Back-checking is always great. We can always count on them on the blue line.'

Unionville took control of the game from the time the puck dropped and spent the majority of time down in the offensive end.

Lansdale Catholic wasn't able to get a single shot on net until a power play almost seven minutes in and even then, it was just one before Unionville took back over.

With time winding down in the first, Hagerty skated down the ice, around two defenders and once she reached the side of the net, sent a perfect feed to an awaiting Sarah O'Neill in front for what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 10:49.

Lansdale Catholic almost tied things up immediately after when freshman forward Allie Ward over-skated the puck and Alexandra Lombardi skated in on a breakaway, but goaltender Lillian Jones stood tall in net.

Shortly after, Lansdale Catholic was at it again when a chip from along the boards sent freshman forward Kendall Piazza in on another breakaway. Lizzy Gaebel tried to stop Piazza by attempting to block the shot with her body and slightly tossed her stick in the way as well, which was called for a penalty, but Unionville killed it off.

Despite taking two more penalties in the second, Unionville not only kept Lansdale Catholic off the scoreboard, but also the shot counter, out-shooting them 8-0.

Unionville had several chances to extend the lead, but junior goaltender Helen Cooney was stopping everything sent her way.

The third period proved to be a bit of a test when Unionville was whistled for penalties 10 seconds apart, giving Lansdale Catholic a huge opportunity to tie the game with a 5-on-3 for 1:50 just over two minutes in.

'It was really unfortunate that we kept drawing penalties,' Hagerty said. 'Killing them off has been one of our strong suits and I think killing off the penalties were a lot easier than expected.'

But the girls came up huge and kept Lansdale Catholic out of their end for most of the penalty kill.

'They all held their position,' said Unionville head coach Fred Henjes said. 'Nobody ran around too much. Fortunately, we played about half that penalty outside of our own zone.'

Unionville kept the pressure on once the 5-on-3 ended and tacked on nine more shots and defended the lead until the final buzzer.

Unionville will face Conestoga Monday in the ICSHL girls championship game and for that match, Henjes would like to see his team play a little better.

'Stay out of the penalty box,' he said. 'And get more shots on goal.'

Unionville 1Lansdale Catholic 0

Unionville 1 0 0 -- 1Lansdale Catholic 0 0 0 -- 0

Unionville goal: O'Neill.Goalie saves: Jones (U) 6; Cooney (LC) 26.

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