NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — Pine-Richland goaltender Daniel Stauffer earned his third shutout of the 2018-19 season on the biggest stage of the season, as the netminder turned aside all 24 shots he faced to lead the Rams to a Pennsylvania Cup title in a 3-0 victory over Downingtown East on Saturday at RMU Island Sports Center.
Stauffer didn’t have his best performance in Pine-Richland’s 7-5 Penguins Cup victory over Upper St. Clair earlier in the week, but he bounced back, making every save he was asked to against the Cougars, who entered as two-time reigning state champions.
“Words can’t describe it,” Stauffer said. “This is something you dream of, basically, playing all season with these boys, having this situation and this outcome. It’s amazing.”
He also wasn’t asked to do all that much at times, as the Rams dominated time of possession in all three periods, and out-shot the Cougars overall, 35-24.
They did so despite leading nearly wire-to-wire, as senior forward Brian Phipps tipped a Jack Tyndall point shot past Dowingtown East goaltender Matthew Shandler just 1:03 into the first period.
“Huge goal,” Pine-Richland coach Jordan Yoklic said. “Momentum in high school hockey is key. There was a lot of support from Pine-Richland fans. We wanted to get them into it. We did focus on all year on having good starts to games. … It played a lot of benefits through the game.”
“The Upper St. Clair game, we went down early,” captain Will Studt said. “For this one, to get out to a lead, get out to a good start, was really something special. We knew we could finish it off.”
Studt did the finishing next, as the Rams added on in the second period when the senior — one of 14 on the squad — broke through the Dowingtown defense with a nifty stickhandling move and fired a wrist shot home to give Pine-Richland a two-goal lead.
After a strong defensive effort in the third period, Nicholas Lindauer iced the victory with an empty-net goal with 4.6 seconds to play.
The state title is the third overall for the Rams, who also won Class-AA state titles in 2006 and 2007. Pine-Richland’s season will continue in the 2019 USA Hockey Division I High School National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio from March 28 to April 1.
The win was the first in Class-AA for the PIHL since Cathedral Prep won in 2015 and just the third overall in the last five seasons.