by Jody Kessler

After winning state championships in 2008 and 2009, the LaSalle College High School hockey team is striding towards that goal again.  They were out for revenge against Wyoming Seminary Prep last Wednesday, as Wyoming had beaten them 7-1 in the first game of the year.  LaSalle rode a hot start en route to a 4-1 win.  They got two goals in the first two minutes on their way to their 17th win of the season.  Nick Popoff had a goal and assist for the Explorers while four different scorers had the goals.  LaSalle was the home team, at the Hatfield Ice Center in Colmar.

LaSalle got a power play quickly to start the game, when Wyoming’s Craig Skvalski was sent off for hooking.  LaSalle took advantage, Sean Orlando scoring on a feed from Popoff.  Just eighteen seconds later, at the 13:14 mark of the first period Popoff scored on a breakaway.  It wasn’t that Wyoming is a bad team, LaSalle just got good chances early.  In fact the rest of the game was a very closely played game.  Wyoming was very physical.  The Knight’s Tim Hanlon had a breakway but was stoned by LaSalle goalie Andrew King.  Brett Supinski, who played well all afternoon for LaSalle then had a good chance.  That was followed up by Frank Trocino, who went coast to coast and beat Wyoming goalie Jake Widemer off the pipe.  He scored with 5:18 left in the first period for a 3-0 Explorer lead.  LaSalle then took successive penalties but the best chance was a shorthanded one, when Sean Orlando walked in on Widemer.  His shot went wide and the score stayed 3-0 at intermission.

LaSalle picked up where they left off in the second period.  4:01 into the period they had a 2 on 1 and pulled off a perfect give and go, Thomas Jaquay passing to Matt Williams for the goal.  Two minutes later Wyoming switched goalies.  Both teams were very skilled though, it was an even game and very good hockey.  LaSalle just got slightly better shots.  Popoff had a good one, but was stoned by new goalie Rich Church on a breakaway.  Finally Wyoming got in the scoring column, with 1:50 left in the period.

The third period saw more closely played action.  It got a little chippy, matching roughing penalties being handed out at one point.  Each team had some good chances but no goals were scored.  Wyoming did get one in the net but it was called off due to a penalty.  The Knights actually finished the game with more shots, 24-23, but LaSalle had the win.

“I thought we played well,” said LaSalle coach Wally Muelbronner.  “We had real good pressure out of all the lines, finishing hits well, we were responsible defensively as well.  We got on them early which certainly helped.  It was a good win for us because they are a big physical team they can skate.  Second period we gave up some odd man rushes but first and third we did a good job of being defensive minded.”  On the year he said, “overall we’ve been playing pretty well.  We went through a little lull, you hit those points in the season, hopefully we’re past that now.  From here our goal is to win the state championship.  I think we have the ability to do it we just have to bring the focus and effort to do it and we have a good shot.”

“It was a good game,” said Orlando.  “Team worked hard.  We had a tough loss to (father) Judge on Monday, so we stuck to our game plan got pucks deep got them in the net so it as good.  Our goaltender played really well.  We have a good chance, play our LaSalle style hockey.”

Trocino talked about the team’s chemistry.  “I thought the whole team did good collectively, we got a good pep talk by our coach before the game which fired us up.  Our team combined effort we pulled it out.  We moved the puck well, we have a good chemistry with each other, outside of school, we have a good chance, (Holy) Ghost and Judge will be the hard games but I think we can get by them.”

Wyoming post-graduate student Jake Hotz talked about the game.  “Both teams were good competitors, we fought well, we had some opportunities but we couldn’t really finish.  We couldn’t pull through and get the goal.”  On the year he said, “we’re playing pretty well.  We beat LaSalle first game.  Hope to end up with a winning record, pretty sure we will in the end.”

Wyoming coach Glenn Patrick was also reached for comment.  “I thought it was pretty even but when you get down 4-0 it was hard for us to get back.  Their goaltender played well.  We do have a rivalry, they always play well at home.  I thought the opportunities were fairly even.  We had a short bench.  Injuries set in so right now we’re not playing well.  Started out the year well but right now mediocre.”

Wyoming is now 11-10-1.  LaSalle is 17-5-1.  They play Delbarton Tuesday.

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