Second-period surge helps LaSalle College beat Peters Township for Class 3A state hockey title

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Saturday, March 25, 2023 | 8:43 PM


The LaSalle College Explorers broke a 1-1 tie with four second-period goals on their way to a 7-3 victory over Peters Township on Saturday, capturing their seventh state high school hockey championship.

“The second period is what hurt us,” said Peters Township coach Rick Tingle. “We came back in the third and tried to get it going again, but they’re a good team and that didn’t happen.”

The Explorers broke the ice late in the first period on a great effort from Charlie Kennedy.

The junior broke into the Peters Township zone on the right wing and threw a shot on goal that was stopped by Kyle Thomas. But Kennedy dove headfirst at the rebound and poked the puck into the net with 43 seconds left in the opening period.

“That first goal really helped us,” Explorers coach Wally Muehlbronner said. “We settled down and started to believe that we could get the job done.”

The Indians didn’t wait long to tie the game, as Will Tomko fired a wrist shot passed Aries Carangi off a faceoff win 12 seconds into the second period.

LaSalle College flipped the period and the game with two goals in a 42-second span.

Julian Tarsi scored on a deflection at 2:12 followed by an Evan Golato goal off a great give-and-go pass from Chase Hannon at 2:54 to put the Explorers up 3-1.

LaSalle College added two more goals in the period.

Hannon ripped a wrist shot home from the right circle at 7:41 and Ryan Desmond deflected a Hannon shot into the net with just five seconds left in the period to build the lead to 5-1.

“We got through a couple of penalty kills early,” Muehlbronner said of the second period. “That gave us momentum, and we were fresh because they had a lot of their top guys on ice.”

The top line for LaSalle College — Hannon, Golato and Desmond — tallied three goals and six points in the win.

“Great chemistry with those three. Unfortunately they’re all graduating,” Muehlbronner said. “They’re a big reason as seniors that really helped get this team on track early in the season.”

“We’ve been friends and playing together since freshman year,” said Hannon. “Our bond just grew, and we came together at the beginning of the year and decided that we were going to do everything in our power to win a state championship.”

To Peters Township’s credit, last year’s PA Cup champs didn’t quit.

Tomko scored his second goal of the game on a rebound at 3:39 of the third and then assisted on a Ben Kovac goal at 5:54 as the Indians pulled to within 5-3.

But Michael Zarzycki gave LaSalle College a three-goal lead again by scoring on a rebound at 7:36 before Monzo finished out the scoring with an empty net goal with just under two minutes remaining to make the final score 7-3.

“I thought it was a great game,” said Muehlbronner. “It was much closer than the score indicates.”

Muehlbronner, in his 25th year, said winning another state championship is still exciting.

“This never gets old,” he said. “But it feels much harder now getting here. I think the game’s really grown and there are a lot of good programs out there.”

Hannon was equally as excited to win the title.

“It’s awesome,” the senior forward said. “Honestly, it’s a feeling that I didn’t think I’d ever experience, but to able to be a part of this and this team is something that I’ll never forget.”

Carangi made 21 saves to get the win for LaSalle College (16-8-1).

Peters Township, which captured its eighth Penguins Cup earlier this month, finished at 19-4.

“(We) played great today. That team across the way just played better,” Tingle said. “But we ended up in first place and won the Penguins Cup and it’s tough to win that. Our goal is always to win the states, though, and we just came up short.”

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