Pine-Richland blanks Downingtown East to win Class AA Pennsylvania Cup

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Saturday, March 23, 2019 | 4:49 PM


It has been a magical run for the Pine-Richland hockey team this year. The Rams had one mission remaining — a state championship.

The Rams got an early lead and never looked back en route to defeating two-time defending state champion Downingtown East, 3-0, in the Class AA Pennsylvania Cup on Saturday at RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.

“It’s amazing feeling to see them achieve their goal,” Rams coach Jordan Yoklic said.

“Going into the year, the goal is always to win a state championship. We have high standards.”

Pine-Richland (22-0-1) captured its first Class AA state championship since going back-to-back in 2006 and ‘07. The Rams captured the Class AAA title in 2008.

Junior goaltender Daniel Stauffer stopped all 24 shots on net to preserve the shutout.

After stopping only four shots in the first period, Stauffer stopped 12 shots in the second and eight in the final period.

“He’s unbelievable. All year, you could count on him no matter what. Breakaway goals, overtime, 5-on-5, power play, 5-on-3,” Yoklic said.

“The defense and the forwards try to make it as easy as possible for him, but Danny has been unbelievable.”

Stauffer made a couple big stops down the stretch while the holding onto a 2-0 third-period lead.

About four minutes into the third, Stauffer smothered a slap shot by Downingtown East’s Dan Stankiewicz from the point.

Stauffer made another big stop on junior Ryan Prestayko’s chance in front of the net with just under six minutes remaining to keep it a two goal game.

“My teammates played insane in front of me. They locked down and made my job that much easier,” Stauffer said.

“It’s amazing, Words can’t describe it. Just playing with these boys, having this situation and outcome is just amazing.”

The Rams scored 1 minute, 3 seconds into the game when senior Brian Phipps found the back of the net.

The Rams quickly settled in, and Yoklic thought they could fulfill their game plan.

“It was a huge goal. Getting momentum in high school hockey is key. There was a lot of support with the Pine-Richland fans. We wanted to get them into it,” Yoklic said.

“We focused all year to have good starts to games. I think the majority of the season we did that. But tonight with the caliber of a state championship, it’s extra special. They were able to ease into it as the game went along and stay defensive minded.”

In the second period, the Rams, who had 33 shots on net, built on their lead when senior William Studt scored on a wrister in the slot after evading a Cougars defender.

Things looked to be trending in the Rams’ direction heading into the intermission, when senior Brandon Will took an ill-advised cross checking penalty that left the Rams shorthanded for 1:30 to start the third.

The Rams killed the critical penalty and maintained momentum.

“We tightened up, made the kill, got the puck out and made the simple plays. Getting the momentum back after that was key. We were able to go to work in their zone for the majority of the third period,” Yoklic said.

Pine-Richland reached the state championship after a come-from-behind, 7-5 victory over Upper St. Clair in the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup on Monday.

The Rams will now compete in the national tournament starting Thursday in Cleveland.

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