The scouts perched above the ice Tuesday night at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone were treated to a pair of contests that more closely resembled playoff games than all-star games. The hitting was fierce and the intensity was palpable as the top high school seniors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware squared off in the 3rd annual DHI Cup Showcase.
Prior to puck drop, Flyers center Danny Briere
and former Flyers Captain (and DHI Cup founder) Keith Primeau visited each team’s locker room to visit with the players and wish them well. Clearly their words resonated with the high schoolers, as NJ Central defeated NJ South, 4-3, and NJ North downed PA/DE 3-0 in games featuring a dazzling array of skill.
Scouts from 20 college and junior hockey programs watched the games with great interest and took ample notes. The DHI Cup was established to promote talented local players, while encouraging them to stay home and finish their secondary education before moving on to higher levels of hockey. The formula seems to be working, as 90% of last year’s DHI Cup participants are currently playing in college or juniors. New Jersey Central 4, New Jersey South 3 (Shootout)
Tony Valentino (Red Bank Catholic) converted on a controversial 5-on-3 opportunity with 5:47 remaining in the 3rd period to force overtime. After a scoreless 5-minute extra session, Central Jersey won the game in a shootout. After a top-shelf goal by Donald Kleckner (Lawrenceville), South Jersey’s Nick Allison (Gloucester Catholic) knotted the shootout with a nifty backhand move. On the third and final shot, Central Jersey’s Andrew Canitano (St. John Vianney) slid the puck through the five hole of goaltender Nicholas Casella (Bishop Eustace) to seal the victory for NJ Central.
Charles Robinson (Gloucester Catholic) led all scorers, taking advantage of his 6’4” frame and pacing NJ South with two goals and an assist. New Jersey North 3, Eastern Pennsylvania / Delaware 0
Goaltending was the difference in the second semifinal, as PA/DE shooters were unable to solve North Jersey goaltenders Sam Morelli and Nicholas Vanderlinden, who combined to make 31 saves. Brian Purcell score twice in the 1st period to pace NJ North on the scoresheet. Paul Kenny (Bishop Shanahan) stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief of PA/DE starter Shane Lewis (Twin Valley), who made 12 saves on 15 shots.
The DHI Cup Final will take place on Monday, November 3 (7:00 pm) at the Wachovia Spectrum. The game is open to the public and admission is free. All fans in attendance will have the opportunity to meet Keith Primeau. Full team rosters can be found by visiting www.durhamhockeyinstitute.com.