by Jody Kessler
LaSalle started its quest for a third championship in four years Wednesday night beating St. Joseph Prep easily 5-0 at the Hatfield Ice Center in Colmar.
The wins sends them on to face Father Judge today in the semifinals of the AAA Flyers Cup. LaSalle is the number-one seed.
Judge may be tough — LaSalle lost to them the last time they played. But if Wednesday’s effort is any indication Judge could be in trouble. Despite giving up six penalties and not getting any power plays of their own, the Explorers completely dominated the game. In fact, two of the goals came off St. Joe power plays.
La Salleoutshot the Hawks 48-18. Just as in the regular season game when LaSalle beat St. Joe 3-0 Hawk goalie Paul Sjostrom kept them in the game, as LaSalle had multiple scoring opportunities. They dominated possession on the way to the quarterfinal win.
St. Joseph’s had chances early, getting a couple of good shots on net, but LaSalle quickly wore them down and kept the puck for long periods of time.
Just seconds after killing a St. Joe power play the Explorers got their first goal when C.J. Dunton scored on a rebound off of a D.J. DeBrakeleer shot. It came at the 4:35 mark of the first period and was the only goal of the period.
Nick DeSimone played well all night for LaSalle, earning the shutout. St. Joe’s ended the period on the power play.
Even though it was the Hawks on the poweplay to start the second, it was the Explorers who would score. Matt Williams and Neil Laessing executed a two-on-one perfectly, Laessing slamming it above Sjostrom’s blocker. The goal came with 13:52 on the clock.
They got another with 4:07 left in the period, DeBrakeleer scoring, Thomas Jaquay getting the assist. They got two more goals in the third period. Nick Popoff collected a rebound and went to the backhand, dragging the puck around Sjostrom and in the net. Then Ron Greco got the icing on the cake, pulling up and banging one past Sjostrom.
St. Joe got more power plays, including a 5 on 3, but could never score. LaSalle was just in position all day long.
“Could have been a lot different if some of their shots went in early,” LaSalle coach Wally Muehlbronner said, “We’re still relatively a young tem, [but] we’re a little bit deeper than they are. They have one pretty solid line that was able to get some good scoring opportunities. Once we got our lines rolling with good speed getting pucks deep we established our game. We have good speed which meant good penalty killing. Nick made the saves he had to. Judge beat us the last time so we’re going to be up for it.”
LaSalle is now 21-5-2. St. Joe’s dropped to 10-16-1.