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St. Joe's Heads to APAC Finals

By Rick Woelfel & APAC, 02/22/24, 3:45PM EST


St. Joseph’s Prep 3 Malvern Prep 2

All season long, St. Joseph’s Prep has counted on young players to step up in big situations. One of them did Wednesday night when it mattered most.

Sophomore Michael Castelli’s goal with 6:53 remaining in regulation was decisive as the Hawks bested Malvern Prep 3-2 in an Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference semifinal at the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 1923 Arena. The third-seeded Hawks (15-5) will face top-seeded La Salle next Wednesday at Hatfield Ice (time TBD) for the Founders Cup. It will mark the school’s first appearance in the final in the six-year history of the APAC.

Castelli, a first-year varsity player, described the winning goal.

“My teammate [Ben Kersun] shot from the point,” he said. “I drove the net hard, got the rebound, and buried it.”

Castelli’s effort on the game winner is what the Hawks have come to expect from the underclassmen on the roster.  

Senior captain John Lynch noted their impact in the semifinal.

“It was huge,” he said. “They show that they deserve ice time out there. Because they’re working just as hard as [the upperclassmen] do. And we try to push them as hard as we can. “They’re really earning their ice. They’re not given the ice. They’re earning it every time and they’re getting better every game.”

Castelli says the support of the upperclassmen has sped his development as a player.

“They’v been  great,” he said. They’re just very supportive. Never negative,”

The second-seeded Friars (9-8) took the ice missing several key performers due  to injury, including their captain, Jeremy Jacobs.

But they took the early lead when Jonathan Holt found the back of the net just 1:53 into the opening period. Tristan Winata tied the game for the Hawks 10:07 into the second frame but Caiden Canale put Malvern Prep back in front with 3:52 left in the period.

Lynch tied the game for St. Joseph’s Prep with a power-play goal 4:34 into the final period as momentum gradually shifted in the Hawks’ direction.

“I thought we had a good period-and-a-half of hockey,” said Malvern Prep coach Bill Keenan. “[St. Joseph’s Prep] came out in the second half of that game and played well.

“Our third period cost us. We had two penalties off the get go playing shorthanded. That cost us.”

Ice chips: Both teams will be part of the field for the Class AAA Flyers Cup beginning the week of March 4. The Hawks and the Friars split two regular-season meetings.

St. Joseph’s Prep 0 1 2—3

Malvern Prep 1 1 0—2

First-period goal: Jonathan Holt (MP) from Brady Doyle and Caiden Canale, 1:53

Second-period goals: Tristan Winata (SJP) from Calum Hartnell,  10:07; Canale (MP) from Teague Murray and Aidan Kelly, 13:08

Third-period goals: John Lynch (SJP) from Cole Garson and Hartnell; Michael Castelli (SJP) from Ben Kersun, 10:07

Shots: St. Joseph’s Prep 24, Malvern Prep 15; Saves: Jacob Aranda (SJP) 13, Matt Crawford (MP) 21