Hockey season ends on high note

Gavin Kane

Aside from a few setbacks, Malvern Prep Hockey had a very successful season.

On February 15, Malvern Prep’s junior varsity Hockey team fell to Unionville in the league championship. Despite the team’s loss, they gave an unbelievable effort all season. Varsity had a great season as well, finishing in third place in their league.

Freshman Chris Blango, leader of assists in the Prep/Red league, was very satisfied with Malvern’s performance in their semi-final game against Downingtown East.

“We won 5-2, with a little help from some juniors and sophomores,” Blango said. “It was a good team win.”

Before going into the championship, Blango had already met one of his goals.

“I wanted to help a lot of people get better, and I think I am doing that because I lead the league in assists,” Blango said. “That was one of my personal goals, to get a lot of points and to make people better.”

One of the team’s standout traits is their uplifting positivity.

“We weren’t always ahead in games, we weren’t always doing good things in games,” JV coach Bill Keenan said. “But keeping that positive focus, positive energy, really helped us succeed throughout the season.”

Coach Keenan started his coaching career in the Malvern Prep Middle School, and moved up to the junior varsity team in the Upper School. He found the two teams to be different from each other.

“Going from middle school to high school hockey was a bit of a change for me,” Keenan said. “You go from middle school players who aren’t typically structured with their hockey skills yet, to more guys that are very fast-paced. [The high school players] pick up things quickly when you correct them and everything else.”

The junior varsity team ended up losing to Unionville in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League (Prep/Red division) championship by one point. Coach Keenan said that Malvern did not play them during the regular season, but knew that they were going to give the team a good game.

“Mentally, before the game, the guys [got] really focused,” Keenan said. “It really starts after we go in, as a coach, and give a pregame speech. We set the mentality of ‘just go do work.’”

Despite losing, Coach Keenan believes the team “gave it all they had.” One factor that he thinks may have contributed to their loss was their lack of numbers on the bench.

“We just didn’t have enough depth on the bench. Guys were tired, but they gave it everything they had, up until the end,” Keenan said.

For varsity, senior Nick Fantini believes that the biggest matchup of their season was against Holy Ghost Prep.

“The first time we played them [Holy Ghost Prep] it was a rough game; we ended up losing 6-0. We played them two weeks in a row so we had two practices to correct our mistakes. The next time we played them we improved, but we still lost 3-2. We are all excited to possibly play them again in the flyers cup,” Fantini said.

Fantini thinks the team has really come together this year, due to the amount of time that they have spent together.

“Even the freshmen and sophomores are really coming together,” Fantini said.

One talented varsity player, freshman Kenny Connors, hurt his leg in a club game early in the season. This injury had some negative consequences on the varsity team.

“That was a really big setback because he was one of our better players,” Fantini said.

Fantini said that there are more juniors than seniors on varsity, which gives him high hopes for next year’s team.

Both teams in the Malvern Hockey program had their ups and downs, but ended their seasons with impressive records and great memories.