Even as La Salle misfired on shot after shot at the Holy Ghost Prep net Wednesday night, coach Wally Muehlbronner and his players could feel themselves inching toward a goal.
And when that goal finally occurred 16 minutes and 40 seconds into the Flyers Cup Class AAA championship game at Hatfield Ice Arena in Colmar, they knew it would not be the last.
"A lot of the game is mental," said junior forward Timothy Feoli, whose long slap shot found the back of the net to open the scoring in La Salle's 6-3 victory.
"When you finally get one in, you know they're going to keep coming."
Feoli's goal triggered a five-goal, second-period barrage that propelled the Explorers (23-2) to their second straight Flyers Cup title and fourth in the last five years.
Twenty-nine seconds after Feoli scored into the top-right corner of the net, sophomore forward Andrew Romano beat Ghosts goalie Peyton Jones to the same spot.
With less than seven minutes left in the period, La Salle poured in three more goals in the span of 3:58.
Muehlbronner said that his team spent too much time in the first period looking for the "picture-perfect play."
In the second period, the puck began to move more crisply, and more scoring opportunities came.
"We definitely got a better flow going," said Feoli, who was named the tournament's most valuable player after collecting two goals and five assists in two games. "Everybody started firing."
After La Salle outshot Holy Ghost (18-5-3), 30-14, in the first two periods, the Explorers' boisterous student section began chanting, "It's all over" as soon as the puck dropped in the third.
But the Firebirds had a scoring spree of their own left in them.
Sophomore forward Michael Angelo Schiavone III finally put Holy Ghost Prep on the board, with a wrist shot over La Salle goalie Nicholas DeSimone's left shoulder with 8:22 remaining.
Senior Matthew McEntee beat DeSimone to the same spot less than four minutes later, as did sophomore defenseman Kevin Kerr, the tournament's leading scorer with nine points, 1:13 after that.
"You have a five-goal lead, you get a little complacent," Muehlbronner said. "We were just hanging on at that point."
La Salle's Ryan Williams sealed the game with a goal with 2:01 remaining.
The Explorers have won six of the 33 Flyers Cup championships, second-most to Malvern Prep. They emerged from the 13-team Class AAA field after blowing past Cardinal O'Hara, 8-2, in the semifinals March 7, when Ghost beat Father Judge, 8-1.
La Salle 0 5 1 – 6
Holy Ghost Prep 0 0 3 – 3
Goals: LS-Timothy Feoli 2, Andrew Romano, Nicholas Master, Andrew Grajewski, Ryan Williams; HGP-Michael Angelo Schiavone III, Matthew McEntee, Kevin Kerr.
Saves: LS-Nicholas DeSimone 23; HGP-Peyton Jones 36.
Contact Brian Kotloff at firstname.lastname@example.org.