Hibshman (Hershey, Pa.) broke a 4-4 third
period tie with his first goal of the playoffs, as the Philadelphia Junior Flyers defeated the Jersey Wildcats, 7-4, in game four, to win the Metropolitan Junior
Hockey League’s Foster Cup Championship
at Aspen Ice Arena on Sunday
Winners of the President’s Trophy as
the MJHL’s regular season champion, the Junior Flyers followed quarter and
semifinal wins over the Central Penn
Panthers and the Brewster Bulldogs,
with a 3 games to 1 victory over the Wildcats to complete their championship quest.
FitzgeraldMost Valuable Player of the Foster Cup Championship Playoffs after registering
12 points (6G 6A) for the Junior Flyers during their championship run.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best players in
the league,” said Philadelphia’s head coach Jason Kilcoyne. “He’s an amazing ice hockey player. He does so many
amazing things that I just love watching him play; I really enjoy watching him
Tyler Glennon (Kennett Square, Pa.), paced
the Flyers with two goals and two assists in game four. Both goals were of the
empty-net variety, coming in the game’s final two minutes, providing valuable insurance
for Philadelphia. Glennon matched Fitzgerald with 12 points (6G 6A), leading
the Philadelphia offense. The Junior Flyers led the MJHL in the regular season
with 258 goals and also led all teams in the postseason with 49.
“It was very important for us to
take a lot of shots and to get to the net,” Kilcoyne offered. “They had some
sort of flaw in their defense where the high slot was open a lot, so we were
able to place a guy there and get a lot of scoring opportunities, and we were
able to capitalize.”
Bowen (Harrison, N.J.) singlehandedly kept the Wildcats alive
both, in the game, and the series, with a game four hat-trick, including the
game-trying goal, just 48 seconds into the third period.
it happened: Bowen would put the hosts on the
board first, scoring just 16 seconds into the first period. The goal marked the
first time in the series that Jersey opened the scoring.
“Everyone was elated,” said Wildcats
head coach Justin Stanlick. “We did
exactly what we talked about, so to be able to go out and do that to start the
game was certainly a boos for us.”
After a Ryan Irving (Belle Meade, N.J.) minor for interference,
Philadelphia evened the score on a Gannon
Stuart (Glen Mills, Pa.) powerplay goal, just 13 seconds before the
man-advantage would expire. It was a goal by Jack Allen (West Chester, Pa.) just three seconds after an expired
powerplay that opened the scoring in game three.
“I think the story for games three
and four were the penalties,” Stanlick said. “We bounced in game two with no
penalties in 60 [minutes] but to have 11 [over] the last two games is too much.
You can’t give a team that’s that skilled that many opportunities on the
Stuart’s goal would begin a stretch
of three, unanswered goals for Philadelphia, as Hayden Mathais (Phoenixville, Pa.) and Vitaliano Salerno (Logan Township, N.J.) each scored, giving the
Junior Flyers a 3-1 lead.
Tracey (Sleepy Hollow, NY) drew the Wildcats to within one, but Allen
would answer just 1:47 later, giving the Junior Flyers a 4-2 advantage at the
The Philadelphia “answer-goal” was a
recurring theme throughout the evening.
“We’ve been down, 3-0, this season,
4-0, 4-1, and these guys don’t look at that,” Kilcoyne said. “They just
continue to play hard. They keep working, working, working, and they know that
eventually they will wear them down.”
Bowen’s second goal of the game
would be the only marker in the second period. The Harrison, New Jersey
resident would complete the natural hat-trick, tying the game at 4, just 48
seconds into the final frame, giving new life to the hosts.
“That line of Bowen-Tracey-Pavlini,
those guys are great hockey players and they were able to come back,” Kilcoyne
However, as was the case in period
one, the Junior Flyers had a response for Bowen’s tying goal when Hibshman
buried a feed from Alec Dugan
(Southampton, Pa,), scoring past a diving Nicholas
Battaglia (Staten Island, N.Y.) at 4:30 of the third period, a goal that
would become the championship-winner.
“I told my guys in the locker room
after the second period, that if I had to be on a team in the third period, I’d
take [us] every single time,” Kilcoyne added.
“They came right hard right off the
draw and basically, we had a little bit of miscoverage and it kind of broke
down to a two-on-none,” Stanlick said. “Then a great play by [Dugan] to get it
over [to Hibshman] and they bury it. That’s how they are; they’re
opportunistic. One mistake on our part and it ends up in our net.”
“The guys that scored, those guys
didn’t get much ice-time tonight,” Kilcoyne commented. “For me to be able to look
on the bench and put them out there, and then not only have them contribute,
but score the game-winning goal, it just shows the kind of team we have.
Everyone works for everyone on this team.”
Now armed with a 5-4 lead, the rest
was up to goaltender Gregory Schenk
(Garnet Valley, Pa.). Schenk was up to the task, making nine of his 35 saves in
the final frame to protect the one-goal lead.
“I think we came closer in the
middle and the end of the second period,” Stanlick reflected. “I think Tracy
hit a shot of the crossbar, but we were never able to get into that fifth,
sixth gear in the third. I think that’s a credit to them. They took away a lot
of time and space and we really couldn’t be creative because of what they were
After Niko Werosta (Medford, N.J.) was whistled for roughing, the
Wildcats pulled Nicholas Battaglia (Staten
Island, N.Y.) in an attempt to even the game, however, it was Glennon providing
the offense, scoring two empty-net goals, one minute apart, to seal the
Battaglia entered the game in relief
of starter Ondrej Smalec (Cranford,
N.J), making 37 saves over his 44 minutes of work.
their words: “We came into this season talking
about sticking together, be a family, be a team, win together,” Kilcoyne said.
“We took a bad loss in game two and that’s the only I said in the locker room:
‘we need to shrug it off and move on. It’s one game’. That was the same thing
the Wildcats did from game one to game two. The family. It’s more of a family than
a team. The best teams I ever played on, that’s how they were run and the way
the best teams are at any level, so in my opinion, you have to have that
component of being a family and that was the more important thing [for us]. I’m
proud of this team and grateful for all of the help my staff, especially Brent Bagdon, has given me this year.
This was a great team championship.”
“I couldn’t be more proud [of my
team],” Stanlick shared. “Every week we progressed and we never focused on
winning. We just focused on getting the kids better and development and they
did. Throughout the season they did that and tonight we really put it to [our]
big three veterans that they have to come back and they did with a huge game.
Everybody chipped in and it was a great year and congrats to the Flyers – they
were a great team.”
next: The 2016-17 season!
Pavlini (Far Hills, N.J.) finished as the
postseason’s leading scorer with seven goals and 12 assists (19 points)
Bowen’s nine goals led all players
Dorozinsky (Warrington, Pa.) led all
goaltenders with a 1.60 goals against average and a 0.940 save percentage
While Glennon and Fitzgerald led the
Junior Flyers with 12 points, it was a total team effort throughout the
playoffs, as 17 of 18 skaters registered at least one point and 16 of 18
skaters had at least one goal
by former New York Rangers General Manager Emile Francis and celebrating its 50th
year of existence, making it the longest USA Hockey-sanctioned Junior hockey
league in the United States, the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League has a
membership of 15 teams spread across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions and
prides itself on player development for athletes ages 16-20 who aspire to reach
higher levels of junior, collegiate and professional hockey.
For more information on the MJHL, log on to http://www.mjhl.net or on Twitter @The_MJHL or on
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheMJHL
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