Victories from the top-seeded Delaware Military Academy Seahawks and the second-seeded St. Mark’s Spartans in Monday evening’s (Feb. 26) Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League (ICSHL) South Division semifinals set up an all-Delaware championship game, to be held Wednesday (Feb. 28) at the Patriot Ice Center in Newark, Del.
The Seahawks and the Spartans will contest the South Division championship on Wednesday night after splitting their regular-season series. Following a 5-0 St. Mark’s win on Dec. 4, DMA exploded with a 10-1 rout of the Spartans in their Feb. 2 meeting. Coverage on Delaware Hockey Night Radio will begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
(1) DMA 9, (4) Msgr. Bonner 1
An offensive explosion at the game’s midpoint propelled DMA past the Msgr. Bonner Friars, 9-1, in the first South Division semifinal. Max Ruggerio led DMA with four goals while ICSHL leading scorer Markus Cook contributed a trio as well.
Geoff Stokes scored the only Bonner goal of the game in the last minute of the first period before the DMA onslaught began in earnest at the game’s midpoint. Markus Cook’s equaliser at 8:05 in the second came while short-handed, and lead to three further goals in the last three minutes of the second period. Ruggerio gave the Seahawks the go-ahead goal from an Aaron Catron feed on the power play at 13:10, only to score again with 31 seconds left in the period immediately after defenceman Braedon Dougherty connected. The second Ruggerio goal brought on an unsporting conduct penalty from Bonner goalie Connor Lewis and a further ten-minute misconduct assessed to Christian Caparra.
Ruggerio opened the third with a pair of fourth-minute goals for DMA (14-3-0), with Markus Cook earning his second and third of the game after with an assist to Alex Maglio between. In all, the Seahawks accounted for 44 shots on goal while netminder Julia Emerich recorded 23 saves in victory.
(2) St. Mark’s 9, (3) Interboro 5
One hundred sixty-four penalty minutes were doled out to both teams—124 in the third period alone—in a game that saw the Spartans jump out to an early lead and keep a hungry and chippy Interboro squad at bay throughout. Patrick Swan and Kelly Stroik recorded hat tricks for the St. Mark’s side, who accounted for 56 shots on goal against Bucs’ goalie Anthony Cuba.
The Spartans assumed command early, potting a pair of goals from above the hashmarks in the third minute. Kelly Stroik’s power-play goal off a drop pass at the top of the left circle was followed up by a Mike Miller snipe from 35 feet away to give St. Mark’s an early 2-0 lead before Interboro’s Stephen Schwartz punched the puck into the left corner under the pads of Billy Pierce to bring the Bucs within a goal. The Spartans responded with a pair of further goals with the benefit of a man advantage before Frank Jirak closed the margin to 4-2 in the final minute of the first with a laser from the right half-wall.
Ultimately, Interboro’s early penalty trouble led to three of the first four St. Mark’s goals, but the woes continued late in the second and throughout the third. After Schwartz again brought the Bucs within a goal with a snipe from the left dot at 4:39, St. Mark’s went on a 3-1 run to close the middle frame. Stroik completed his hat trick in the final minute of the second, receiving a feed from Will Ralsten and generating a breakaway to put the Spartans up 8-5. The sophomore winger increased his seasonal goal total to 13, while Swain likewise finished a hat trick on a breakaway with five minutes left in the third period. Swain, who scored on Cuba twice in the second-period from point-blank range, intercepted an Interboro breakout pass inside their blue line and walked it in to ice the St. Mark’s win.
The senior’s 19th goal of the season was the lone short-handed goal for the Spartans, who were 4-for-9 on the power play. Interboro enjoyed three power-play goals of their own on nine attempts.
With 12.6 seconds remaining, a massive scrum developed behind the St. Mark’s goal. Schwartz was excused from the conclusion of the game for his role in the altercation and its aftermath, as were Gavin Bauer-Smith and Jake Reifer. In total, 96 penalty minutes were assessed as a direct result of the altercation.
For St. Mark’s (11-4-0), the win was their third over the Bucs in as many meetings this season after defeating them 12-2 and 10-0 in the regular season.