The Quakers welcomed in a familiar opponent on Friday night as they faced the Bryn Athyn Lions for the second time in seven days looking to close out 2023 on a high note. It’s always difficult to face a team twice in that short a period of time especially when the last time you faced them you defeated them 7-2 on their home ice but the team was up to the challenge.
Freshman goalie Reagan O’Neil received his third start of the season for Penn continuing to show the depth they have in the net this season. As expected, both teams came out ready play for a “more a less” a fourth period between these two teams with bad blood carrying over. In games like this the first period tends to have an “odd” pace and feel, with each team letting their defense lead the way. The period was scattered with penalties making it hard for either team to get into a rhythm. It wasn’t until the end of the period with the Quakers on a penalty kill that the 0-0 tie was broken. With a great shot block from the point Freshman Jacob Qian and Assistant Captain Calvin Alifervo broke free on a two on one with Alifervo undressing the defenseman and tucking the puck past the Bryn Athyn netminder putting the Quakers up by one. The Quakers would ride the high into the locker room with a one goal lead over the Lions.
With the ice tilting in Penn’s favor, they quickly took advantage of the situation breaking this game open in the second period. Less than two minutes into the period Senior Spencer Touhy, Senior Ethan Abraham, and Graduate Student Corey Frieman with control of the puck in the offensive zone ran a beautiful “give and go” play with Touhy providing a perfect pass to Abraham finding the back of the net and putting the Quakers up by two. With help from the offense the Quakers defense really started to settle in limiting the Lions opportunities visibility causing frustration in the visitors leading to penalties. Penn found themselves on the powerplay once again at the 13-minute mark and this time they made Bryn Athyn pay. Showing that he can “share the love” as well as receive it Abraham with one minute left in the powerplay Abraham found Alifervo wide open on the left post once again putting it past Lions goaltender Cassidy and increasing the lead to three. The powerplay goal from the Quakers would end the scoring for the period with the Penn defense limiting the Lions to seven total shots in the period even with them having two powerplay opportunities. Not only was the Quakers offense humming but their defense was playing an excellent game as well making this a tough challenge for the visiting team.
From the “get go” of the third period the Quakers were all over the Lions. Had it not been the excellent play of Bryn Athyn netminder Cassidy this game could have gotten out of hand fast. The Lions made the mistake of putting Penn on the powerplay once again when who else, but Alifervo found the back of the net with a pretty short side goal coming from a pass from Assistant Captain Aidan Armaly to increase the lead to four. In an unbelievably stat that was Alferov’s third hat trick in three consecutive games for the Quakers! Having been denied by and an outstanding “Brodeur like” saves by Cassidy early in period Freshman Christian Ford was able to exact his revenge at the 7:36 mark in the period with top shelf goal thanks to great behind the back pass from Sophomore Griffin Bond to increase the lead to five. With the continued theme of excellent defense by the Quakers they were able to hold the Lions to five shots in the period to close this game out, securing a 5-0 victory for the team heading into the winter break. The team absolutely peppering Bryn Athyn goalie Cassidy with 25 shots on goal in the period the and 50 shots total. The Quakers were once again able to show how complete of a team they are from top to bottom. Goaltender O’Neil also finished the game with his second shutout of the season. With this victory the Quakers finish the first half of the season with a 12-3 record with four more games to play before the playoffs.
Senior Ethan Abraham was named MVP of the game with two points, but Coach Sabitsky was quoted as saying he deserved because he lead by example and left it all out on the ice before the break.
The Quakers will be off until January 26th, 2024 where they will face the University of Delaware Ducks at home. Warmups are scheduled for 9:20 PM.
For the Penn Hockey family we wish everyone a very safe and Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year! We will see you all back at the Class of 1923 Arena in January. #GoQuakers!
You can rewatch the Quakers victory over the Lions HERE!