Seen here mixing it up with a Haverford School rival, SCH sophomore Eva Hamel (right) doesn’t expect to be treated like a lady when she dons her ice hockey uniform. She is one of three girls on the team. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Early in the third period, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sophomore Ethan Gyllenhaal completed a scoring hat trick, moving the host Ice Devils up out of a 3-3 tie with visiting Haverford School. In front of the home crowd at the Wissahickon Skating Club, the SCH defense and 10th-grade goalie Liam Peterson made the one-goal lead stand up for almost 14 minutes to notch the win last Wednesday afternoon.

The 4-3 victory raised the local team’s record to 3-3-2, while the Fords skated away with a mark of 1-6.

Wednesday was also Senior Recognition Day, and this year the only senior on the roster happens to be one of three Penn Charter students who play as part of the Springside Chestnut Hill team. Since the Quakers have no ice hockey program, this is an arrangement that benefits the players, the SCH squad and the sport in general.

Although it did not turn out that way, there were early indications that the game itself might be a high-scoring affair, as both teams got on the scoreboard during the first three minutes. Gyllenhaal’s unassisted strike for the home team at 49 seconds was matched by Haverford’s Steven Roccia.

A Haverford penalty with 5:10 remaining in the opening period set the stage for SCH’s second goal. Steph DeAngelis slid the puck across the face of the goal from the left side and fellow junior Caiden Stauffer was in place outside the far post to flip in a backhander with 4:28 on the clock.

The Ice Devils went up by two points with just 48 seconds to go, when Gyllenhaal brought the puck up the ice along the left wing and then angled in for a successful shot.

During a Springside Chestnut Hill penalty early in the second round the Fords applied a good deal of pressure, but it was not until the teams were back even that the visitors tabbed their second goal. Grey Rumain put this one in for Haverford with 8:47 left in the period.

After the Fords killed penalty of their own, they tied the score at 3-3 with 3:16 remaining, when Bob Gibson stuffed in the puck after a teammate’s shot was saved by the Ice Devils’ Peterson. Late in the period a hard shot by the hosts’ Hayden Stephan (a junior) thumped off the keeper’s leg pad, the tally was still 3-3 for the start of the final frame.

One of three Penn Charter players playing ice hockey for the Springside Chestnut Hill franchise, Matt Kestenbaum is the only senior out of the entire group. His parents and grandmother joined him on Senior Recognition Day last week. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

SCH got the game-winner just 68 seconds into the third period, as Stephan and Kestenbaum moved the puck up the rink to Gyllenhaal steaming up the middle. He slapped in the rebound of his own shot for a 4-3 lead.

Haverford hampered its own comeback attempts with penalties; at one stretch the visitors were two players down for almost a full minute. The Fords’ keeper foiled shots by Kestenbaum and Gyllenhaal, and a little later the timing of an SCH pass was just a little off as sophomores Conor Cook and Eva Hamel advanced on a promising two-on-one.

However, these efforts on offense kept the Fords far away from the SCH goal. Back to even strength in the closing minutes, the visitors pressed for the equalizer, but the Ice Devils maintained their slim lead until the horn.

Peterson’s performance in the cage has been vitally important for Springside Chestnut Hill this season, since there’s no back-up goalie on the roster at present.

“Right now, it’s his show,” stated head coach and former keeper Justin Grevious. “We’re looking to possibly expand our schedule in the future, and then it would definitely be to our advantage to have another goalie.”

Near the end of his first season with the team, Grevious related, “I think that having a serious approach this year allowed this group of players to participate more, and it incentivized them. The kids feel they have a stake in helping the program develop and grow.”

Gyllenhaal, Kestenbaum and Stephan have been among the scoring leaders all year, while a lot of the defense in front of Peterson is provided by the three female team members, DeAngelis, Hamel and freshman Ainsley Rexford.

“Brandon DeYoung [a Penn Charter sophomore] has been good back there as well,” Grevious said. “Ainsley is just a freshman and she’s been fantastic, and Evie Hamel was a good addition for us. It’s a good strong defensive corps.”

With well over half of the entire roster consisting of athletes in 10th grade and below, there’s definitely room for growth.

“We have so many sophomores and freshman who got a lot of ice experience this year,” Grevious said. “There’s a good foundation for the future.”