Sometimes the best offense can be a great defense. That is until the offense finds its groove. That was definitely the case in Lower Merion's 6-3 win over Archbishop Wood in the opening round of the Flyers Cup Class A contest Tuesday evening at Ice Line.
The 12th seeded Vikings seemed poised to upset the 5th seeded Aces as they had Lower Merion on their heels for much of the first period. For the first eight minutes, Archbishop Wood was in complete control continuously firing shots on Yenal. Every time it seemed like Wood was about score Yenal came up with the save, including two at point blank range.
"Ian was huge for us tonight,' said Lower Merion co-head coach Chase Watson, son of former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Jim Watson. "He kept us in the game until we got our feet moving and our offense started to click. There has been certain times this year he has had to do that and he did it again tonight.'
Junior defenseman Jake Margolis added, "It is a great sigh of relief having Ian in net. He gives us a big lift if we start out slow. We started out slow tonight and Ian was big.'
Late in the first period, Lower Merion mounted an attack that was quickly stifled due to a penalty. Despite being shorthanded, Lower Merion kept attacking. With 6:30 left in the first, Tony Stedeford found a streaking Will Levin who skated in and fired a wrist shot from the right face-off circle that beat Wood goalie Nick DeRosa on the glove side to give the Aces the 1-0 lead.
The lead was short lived as Nicholas Patton finally beat Yenal to know the score with 4:22 left. The second period started similar to the first except this time Wood players were able to break free from a stingy LM defense by scoring twice in a span of 1:40 seconds to take a 3-1 lead. Not deviating from their game plan, Lower Merion seemed to finally find their feet and began moving on offense.
With the offense seemingly in sync, Evan Wolf drew the Aces within one at 3-2 before Levin tied the score 27 seconds later. From there it was all Lower Merion as the Aces potted three more goals to take a commanding 6-3 lead heading into the final stanza.
The line of Levin, Evan Wolf and Albert Brody got the Aces jump-started with Brody creating energy, Wolf creating opportunities and Levin capitalizing on those opportunities finishing with a hat trick.
"I told the team to keep battling,' Levin said following the game. "I knew if we put shots on goal then we could score on this goalie.
Margolis added, "We have eight seniors and I believe they really helped us. when we got down they stayed positive which helped us rebound right away.'
On the defensive side, Margolis anchored the defense not allowing Wood to create many shot opportunities. When Wood did create, it was Yenal time after time coming up with the big save. Yenal finished the evening with 34 saves on 37 shots.
Watson said, "It was a complete team effort tonight. We have had some high scoring games and low scoring games. We started slow but once we started moving our feet we capitalized on our chances. We also got strong play from Jake Margolis, Matthieu Kuszyk, Dylan Karivalis and Jack Straton.'
With the win, Lower Merion advances to the quarterfinals Wednesday night against fourth-seeded Springfield at Ice Works in Aston. The two teams played to a 4-4 tie during the regular season.