West Chester Rustin caps memorable season with fifth straight state title

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The West Chester Rustin ice hockey team won its fifth consecutive Class A state hockey title.

The West Chester Rustin ice hockey team completed a season of milestones with a fifth straight state title last weekend.

Junior forward Nick Ferraro scored two goals as the Golden Knights claimed yet another Class A state crown with a 4-1 win over previously undefeated Bishop McCort (Johnstown). Ian Strasinski and Justin Demyan had one goal apiece as Rustin tied the state record for most consecutive titles.

Rustin (19-2-3) captured its fifth straight Class A Flyers Cup championship in mid-March. The Knights also won a national championship in 2017.

Veteran head coach Nick Russo, who has over 350 career wins at the high school level, has a lot to do with the continued success of the program, which surpassed 250 wins this season. Russo has been the varsity coach since 2006, when Rustin became the third high school in the West Chester Area School District.

“This year alone to hit those numbers, it’s just been a magical year,” said Russo. “It’s a Cinderella story.”

He went on to mention the UConn women’s basketball team when talking about how hard it is to win consecutive titles in scholastic sports.

“The first one [championship] is always special, but everyone is different,” said Russo.

Russo started coaching high school in 1983 ans has had stints with Iroquois (1983-85) and West Chester East (1988-92, 1994-96). He has also spent time in the college ranks: assistant coach at West Chester (1986-91), assistant coach at Villanova (1991-94), head coach at Villanova (1996-98), and head coach at Neumann (1998-2004).

The Knights will lose just three seniors to graduation.

In the Class AA title game, Ryan Prestayko scored in the fifth overtime to give Downingtown East a 3-2 victory over Penguins Cup champion Armstrong. It was the longest game in Pennsylvania state championship history.

Dan Stankiewicz and Luca Pisani also scored for the Cougars, who won their second consecutive Class AA state hockey crown.

“We’re excited to go down in the history books for the longest game in Pennsylvania state championship history,” said Downingtown East coach Dave Hendricks.

For Downingtown East (20-5), it was the fourth consecutive overtime victory as well, dating back to the Flyers Cup quarterfinals. They beat Central Bucks South in the Flyers Cup title game. It was the Cougars’ third title in the last four years.

“I think the main story is how we won,” said Hendricks. “It shows the character of the team, a never-say-die attitude. Nobody could ever count us out at any given time.”

Led by Pisani, Stankiewicz, Justin Cohn, Alex Fox, Michael Bolger, Jack Barton, Patrick Bobko, Downingtown East started the season by winning the Hicksie Cup, a memorial ice hockey tournament benefiting the Andrew L. Hicks Jr. Foundation.

 

The Cougars fell to Downingtown West in the Ches-Mont championship game after finishing the regular season second in the standings.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph’s Prep won its first Class AAA state title with a 4-0 victory over Seneca Valley. Marc Colavita recorded three goals for the Hawks, who won the program’s first Flyers Cup championship just days before.

Colavita had two goals in a 4-2 win over Holy Ghost Prep in the Flyers Cup championship game. He found the net 3 1/2 minutes into the third period to give the Hawks a 3-0 advantage and, after the Firebirds answered with a pair of tallies, added an empty-net goal with 90 seconds to play.

“The kids played aggressively most of the way, we kept Holy Ghost Prep bottled up in the neutral zone, and we got solid goaltending from Troy Stefano,” said Hawks fifth-year coach David Giacomin, who picked up his 100th victory this season.

Giacomin talked to the Inquirer earlier this season about his personal milestone.

“Five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would have the opportunity to work with so many great young men and their families,” Giacomin said. “The 100 wins just means that the young men have embraced the culture and have played hard and achieved success.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of this great school, and if a family has the means to send a son here you will not be disappointed.”

On the girls’ side, Kaelen Speck and Madison Doucette combined for seven goals as Unionville cruised to an 8-2 victory over West Chester East in the Flyers Cup title game. The Indians collected their fourth straight crown and eighth in the last nine seasons going back to the 2009-10 season.

2018 Flyers Cup award winners

AAA Toyota All-Tournament Team

F: Conor Ryan – St. Joseph’s Prep

F: Luke Aquaro – Holy Ghost

F: Marc Colavita – St. Joseph’s Prep

D: Tyler Black – St. Joseph’s Prep

D: Tom McNulty – Holy Ghost

G: Troy Stefano – St. Joseph’s Prep

Leading Scorer

Conor Ryan – St. Joseph’s Prep

Bobby Clarke MVP Award

Conor Ryan – St. Joseph’s Prep

AA Toyota All-Tournament Team

F: Alex Fox – Downingtown East

F: Justin Cohn – Downingtown East

F: Matt Stoll – Central Bucks South

D: Luca Pisani – Downingtown East

D: Frank Carter – Central Bucks South

G: Matt Shandler – Downingtown East

Leading Scorer

Joe DeLaurentis – Central Bucks South

Bobby Clarke MVP Award

Luca Pisani – Downingtown East

A Toyota All-Tournament Team

F: Nick Castura – West Chester East

F: Nicholas Ferraro – West Chester Rustin

F: Matthew Owens – West Chester Rustin

D: Richard Mullineaux – West Chester East

D: Jack Page – West Chester Rustin

G: Joey Galitski – West Chester East

Leading Scorer

Nick Castura – West Chester East

Bobby Clarke MVP Award

Matthew Owens – West Chester Rustin

Girls Toyota All-Tournament Team

F: Madison Doucette – Unionville

F: Lindsey Coffey – Radnor

F: Shannon Russell – West Chester East

D: Jennifer Porter – West Chester East

D: Anna Nolan – Unionville

G: Miranda Goldman – West Chester East

Leading Scorer

Kaelen Speck – Unionville

Bobby Clarke MVP Award

Kaelen Speck – Unionville