The 2016-17 Lower Merion ACES Ice Hockey team began this season with a different mentality, a hungry mindset. After being selected 3 times in a row to compete for the Flyers Cup tournament and then dealing with a 2 win and 15 loss season last year, the team was hungry to get back into competition. We preached as a coaching staff to be hungry, face adversity and fight to bounce back quickly. We did not want to wait a few seasons to be labeled competitive again, we wanted it now…
In addition to having a full player roster of 21 athletes, Coach Dan Pike also added depth on the bench with the addition of coaches. Walker Scudder and Tony Stedeford played a vital role in molding the mindset of the ACES and helped to continually evolve our practice plans to keep the athletes engaged.
LM began the 2016-17 season with a couple big wins against Landsdale Catholic 13-1 and Bishop Shannahan 11-1, then tied Conestoga 4-4 before beating Sun Valley 7-2. As the ACES were starting to find cohesion amongst themselves and play with intensity, LM suffered a huge loss- when Captain Everhett Grimes went down after a knee to knee injury suffered with only minutes remaining in a LM won game.
In the next few games LM struggled to find offensive continuity and let some big Central League points fall away. The team struggled but learned how to battle for one another, turning the momentum of the season back in their favor.
With Grimes healthy again after a speedy recovery, only missing 4 games- LM rallied back and in the next 12 games went an incredible 9-2-1! The ACES were playing strong hockey, having fun and picking up momentum heading into playoff time. However first, LM would have to overcome one more obstacle, the final game of the regular season against an undefeated Haverford team, at the Skatium. So they did! LM outplayed the Fords and altered history defeating them by a score of 3 to 1 in dramatic fashion!
LM would enter the CL playoffs as the #3 seed in ‘Central North’, with an overall record of 11-5-2. Central League playoffs would begin for the ACES vs. Penncrest. Both teams wanted to move forward and brought their everything and unfortunately for LM, Penncrest would notch the go ahead goal with only 1:54 remaining in the third period to go up 4-3. Even though LM was knocked out of Central League playoff competition, they knew they had to have a short memory and keep their heads held high because they had bigger wins to fight for, the Flyers Cup title and a PIAA State Championship.
LM, among many other varsity hockey hopefuls traveled down to The Brick House Tavern in Willow Grove for the 4th Annual Flyers Cup Selection Sunday on February 26th in hopes of being selected to play in the tournament.
LM was selected as the #7 seed in the Flyers Cup ‘A’ bracket! The ACES then awaited their opponent as the ‘play-in’ rounds took place. Eventually, Kennet would advance to take on LM in round two of the Flyers Cup/ State Finals. Finally, Lower Merion would earn a home game in Flyers Cup play and take on Kennet, at the Skatium! With a packed house, the ACES knocked over the Blue Demons by a score of 6-3. LM would then move on to face Wc East the very next night at IceLine in West Chester.
East came out on fire and attempted to command the game, however LM was not going to go down quietly. Both teams battled deep into the game, with the score stuck at 3-3. Unfortunately, after a few tough LM penalties, East would take the lead and steal the momentum, finishing the game with a final score of 8-3. Despite a tough loss in the quarter finals of the State tourney vs. a strong West Chester East team, our ACES are very proud of our successes and how far we played into March.
In the last 5 years, the LM ACES have been selected to compete for the elite Flyers Cup tournament, 4 out of 5 seasons. This is a huge feat as only 16 teams were selected to represent the EPIHA (Eastern Pennsylvania Ice Hockey Association) and the single ‘A’ division of high school ice hockey this year! LM was previously selected as the #5, #5 and #10 seed before earning the #7 seed this year.
Senior Captain: Everhett Grimes, playing in only 14 Central League games notched 62 points (37 G / 25 A) and earned his 4th, ‘All-Central League’ ALL-STAR selection! Grimes came in second amongst all central league scorers, with senior co-captain and line mate Brendan Leonard sitting in the third spot for all central scorers with 58 points (23 G / 35 A). As a team, LM led the entire Central League in scoring with 111 goals for (GF).
It was overall a fun and successful hockey season. The squad learned a lot about themselves. We all did. We are hungrier than ever. I am extremely proud of our underclassmen who stepped up big this season and earned the chance to experience the post season. Players and coaches will absolutely miss our senior class and we appreciate all that they have done to build the LM ACES team and program.
If possible, we would kick off next season, tomorrow.
Coach Dan Pike-