Wednesday, March 26, 2008

LaSalle, Zoldy embrace Cup

By Steven Lienert

PHILADELPHIA – For Perkasie native Kyle Zoldy, what a difference a year makes.
On March 22, 2007, Zoldy and the top-seeded LaSalle ice-hockey team were stunned by Holy Ghost Prep in the Flyers Cup Tier AAA semifinals. Their once promising season had come to a crashing end.

A year to the day later, Zoldy and the top-seeded Explorers faced Holy Ghost Prep in Flyers Cup tournament again, only this time in the finals.

Zoldy and the other three seniors back from last year’s team made sure last year’s debacle wasn’t going to happen again.

Zoldy tallied a goal and two assists to help get the Explorers over the hump as LaSalle defeated Holy Ghost, 4-1 at the Spectrum on Saturday to win its first Flyers Cup championship since 1998.

“My first three years (on the team) we got knocked out in the semifinals,” Zoldy said. “It was the worst feeling in the world. To get it done my senior year, it feels great.”

LaSalle will skate against Pine Richland for the state championship at Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown on Saturday

“(Zoldy’s) been the heart and soul of the team for the past two years,” LaSalle coach Wally Muehlbronner said. “They were a determined group this year. Fortunately, things worked out.”
Last year’s loss to Holy Ghost may have been terrible, but it became the catalyst for this season’s Flyers Cup run.

“I think our loss to them last year gave us a lot of incentive on how we played this year,” Muehlbronner said. “The guys have been determined throughout the year. I think they’ve proven they are one of the top teams in the area. I think they looked forward to playing Holy Ghost Prep again because of what happened last year.”

Muehlbronner put together a difficult schedule and, after the Explorers traveled to New England and Western Pennsylvania to test their mettle against stiff competition early in the season, LaSalle knew it was ready to win the Flyers Cup this season.

“That’s when we knew we could compete with the western teams,” Zoldy said.

In the Meadville Invitational tournament south of Erie, the Explorers took on some of the top teams from Pennsylvania and Ohio. Not only did LaSalle win the tournament for the third time in the past four years, it defeated North Allegheny, the defending state champions, by a 10-0 count.

“I think that gave the guys a lot of confidence,” Muehlbronner said. “And winning the Mount St. Charles tournament over Christmas really got the guys believing they can do good things this year.”

To the disappointment of some of the Explorers, however, Pine Richland attended a different tournament that same weekend. After hearing how good Pine Richland was in December, LaSalle can’t wait to finally see it in person.

“I think the state championship is the ultimate prize,” Muehlbronner said. “Winning the Flyers Cup is a tremendous accomplishment because you have to beat the best teams in the area. We’ve accomplished a lot of great things.

“Would it mean our season wasn’t successful if we don’t win the state championship? Absolutely not. Would it be icing on the cake? You better believe it.”

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