Germantown Academy sophomore Matt Cho (right) looks to stickhandle past Ethan Gyllenhaal, a Blue Devils junior. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was facing its toughest challenge to date when it opened the 2019 portion of the ice hockey season at the Wissahickon Skating Club last Wednesday afternoon. The Ice Devils were hosting Germantown Academy, the undefeated defending champions in the Independence Ice Hockey League.

The visiting Patriots, who returned their 2017-18 line-up almost entirely intact, proved too powerful for their hosts, going up 4-0 by the middle of the second period and then gliding to an 8-1 victory and a 3-0 record.

A balanced attack resulted in two goals apiece for senior Jake Landmesser (one assist), junior Phil Herman and sophomore Matt Cho. Junior Moseley Schwartz piled up four assists, while senior goalie Jamie Werther had a relatively relaxing afternoon, making 11 saves.

In goal at the other end of the ice, Springside Chestnut Hill junior Liam Peterson faced a total of 49 shots, turning aside 41. The Ice Devils (2-2) were spared a shutout when senior Hayden Stephan scored in the second period off of an assist from junior Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Before the holiday break, SCH dropped its season opener at Academy of the New Church, but rebounded for victories over Pennington School and Episcopal Academy. GA had beaten both ANC and Haverford School by 4-1 scores and the bad news for future opponents, including SCH, was that the Patriots had some players out with injuries for both of those contests.

Veteran head coach John Fields noted before Wednesday’s game that the team now had its full line-up ready to go.

Just one minute and 22 seconds into the action, Germantown went ahead for good when sophomore Parker Chisholm initiated a transition sequence that ended with Cho scoring off of a pass from Schwartz. Later on, GA threatened again in transition, but Landmesser was met in front of the goal by SCH junior Eva Hamel and could not get the puck past Peterson.

SCH senior Hayden Stephan (right) has a meeting along the boards with Patriots sophomore Parker Chisholm. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The Patriots did take a 2-0 lead with 3:43 remaining in the first frame, when sophomore Nicky Saldutti set up Herman’s first goal.

Less than half-a-minute later, SCH’s Stephan got up a head of steam as he charged up the middle with the puck, but his shot was saved by Werther.

The Ice Devils were still only down two goals for the start of the second period, but that changed in a little more than one minute, as the Patriots climbed to 3-0 on a goal by junior Mark Dobson (assist: Schwartz).

The visitors continued to attack vigorously; SCH’s Peterson made a nice glove save with a little over four minutes gone, and then had to come up with three quick stops in succession with just under nine minutes remaining in the second round.

The hosts got themselves into more of a predicament by committing a penalty with five-and-a-half minutes to go. Germantown Academy capitalized with 4:53 on the clock, as Dobson and Schwartz assisted on a marker by Landmesser.

Off of the subsequent face-off, SCH’s Gyllenhaal controlled the puck and got it up to Stephan for what would prove to be the Ice Devils’ lone goal of the afternoon. That made it a 4-1 game with 4:46 left in round two, but GA would tack on two more goals in the final 63 seconds of the period.

The fifth goal, by Herman (assists: Schwartz, Saldutti) was almost immediately followed by Cho’s second strike of the game (assist: Landmesser). In the third period, the final score appeared on the board with just over three minutes elapsed, with GA receiving unassisted goals from Landmesser and senior Liam Rosato.