The Boyertown Area Times
OJR repeats as Pioneer champions with shutout
OAKS >> The Owen J. Roberts hockey team took its punches leading up to the Inter County Scholastic Hockey League Pioneer Division final. On Thursday, the Wildcats delivered them.
As the No. 3 seed in the league playoffs, Owen J. Roberts survived an overtime battle against Boyertown to draw a rematch against top-seeded Great Valley-Phoenixville.
The last meeting between the two on Jan. 20 was a 4-3 blow to Owen J. Roberts. But in the Pioneer title game, the Wildcats packed punches early, scoring two first-period goals in a 3-0 shutout of Great Valley-Phoenixville to repeat as Pioneer champions at Center Ice.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I don’t know how many championships we won as a high school, but we’re just adding another trophy to the hardware,” Owen J. Roberts forward Cael Primanti said. “It’s a great feeling, we worked hard for 60 minutes and got the result we wanted.”
Primanti played a hand in all three goals, the first coming with 6:10 left in the opening period when he sent a pass over the middle to Grady Jones and the latter poked it into the righthand corner to go up 1-0.
From there, Primanti buried the second first-period goal to go up 2-0 off a setup from Alex Makhija and Charlie Davis. It was Davis’ 29th assist of the season, the most in the ICSHL through 2022-23.
Following a scoreless second period, Primanti broke from the pack and banked some insurance with an empty-net goal with 1:21 left in the game.
“We came out with a game plan: just play defense. We stuck to that game plan and everything worked out,” Primanti said. “Great Valley-Phoenixville (9-3-1, 14-5-1) is a really great team and a great organization, and they deserve credit too.”
Shane Towler didn’t budge on 36 total shots and recorded the shutout.
The game was a relatively clean one, neither team making too many mistakes. On the night, there were only a combined five penalties, three of which were called on Owen J. Roberts (9-3-0-1 Pioneer, 14-5-0-1).
While the Wildcats were sent to the box once per period — Drew Barone (too many men), Jake Saunders (hooking) and Makhija (roughing) — Owen J. Roberts’ penalty kill was stout, Towler kept GVP off the scoreboard.
“They are super aggressive. Charlie Davis and Cael Primanti, they’re just really great players,”
Great Valley-Phoenixville coach Dave Stewart said. “They’re looking for the shorthanded goal. They take their offense into their penalty kill. It’s tough to battle. We just didn’t move the puck as well and were taking shots that were too far from the point and into traffic, not setting up the complete play.”
Against Aidan Rogacki (42 saves) netminding for Great Valley-Phoenixville, the Wildcats outpaced GVP’s 36 shots with 45 of their own. Jones’ shot came on Owen J. Roberts’ ninth of the game, enough to lift the Wildcats in the end.
Flipping the script defensively against Great ValleyPhoenixville — going from letting up four goals to registering a shutout — also took end-of-season form from the Pioneer champs, who were banged up at the start of their campaign.
Needing more time to gel, the final product was a different team on the ice. And one that played like it,
“I think they ran into the best of what we are,” Owen J. Roberts coach Chuck Gorman said. “Early in the season, we had some injuries, we didn’t really have an idea what our lineups looked like. We didn’t identify what our roles were in the lineup. Between those two games and the end of the season, we kind of figured it out.
“We got healthy. The last month or so, we put together our game plan and knew what we were gonna do coming into this.”
Great Valley-Phoenixville’s only two penalties came in the first and third periods, and the squad didn’t allow the Wildcats’ goals to come on the power play.
The vast majority of the game was five-on-five action, both teams creating good looks throughout the night.
But cashing in on two of them early was the difference on the night, as well as the fuel for hoisting another Pioneer trophy.
“It was back-and-forth, closely contested in terms of possession and zone time,” Gorman said. “These guys wanted it in the worst way and stuck to the game plan.”
Owen J. Roberts 3, Great Valley Phoenixville 0
2 0 0 0
OJR — Jones (Primanti), 6:10
OJR — Primanti (Makhija, Davis), 1:44 Third Period
OJR — Primanti, 1:21
Shots: OJR 45, GVP 36 1-3 0-0
Semifinals OJR clips Boyertown 6-5 in OT
OAKS >> Owen J. Roberts wiped out a three-goal deficit and Cael Primanti scored in overtime to give the Wildcats a 6-5 win over Boyertown Tuesday night in an Inter County Scholastic Hockey League Pioneer Division playoff semifinal.
In the first game at Oaks Center Ice, Great ValleyPhoenixville got two goals and two assists from Alejandro Blum and 43 saves from Aidan Rogacki in a 7-4 win over Perkiomen Valley.
OJR’s Primanti controlled a pass from the corner out in front of the goal, spun, and drilled in his second goal of the night with 12:06 left in the first overtime.
“It was a team goal,” he said. “It’s a great feeling. We’re reigning Pioneer champions. We want to defend that and look forward to the Flyers Cup playoffs.”
The Wildcats trailed 3-1 after a period and 4-1 early in the second and called a timeout to regroup.
“I felt we needed a momentum switch,” said OJR coach Chuck Gorman.”I brought them in for a timeout. We had to stick to our game plan.”
“On the bench, we were just telling each other we’re good,” said Primanti. “We just need the first one and then we’ll be rolling.”
That first goal of the comeback was scored by Drew Barone two minutes later and Luke Armstrong scored with just 17 seconds left in the period to make it 4-3.
Then Charlie Davis scored a short-handed goal with 10:23 remaining in the contest to tie the score.
“That was probably the biggest goal of his career,” said Gorman. ”Charlie Davis and Cael, they are our 1-2 punch, a force to be reckoned with.”
After Davis tied the score, Primanti gave the Wildcats the lead with 4:03 to go, but Weston Bieber tied it for Boyertown with 2:03 left.
OJR goalie Shane Towler came up with several big saves in the back-and-forth overtime session before Primanti ended it.
“Shane is a great goalkeeper,” said Primanti. “I feel he’s the under-rated goalie in our league. He came up with some big saves, especially in overtime.”
“He’s been my goalie since elementary school,” said Gorman. “The last two years, he’s put in a lot of training and work. He’s carried us all year.”
Towler made 42 saves and Boyertown goalie Tyler Griffith had 45 as the No. 3 seed Wildcats (8-30-1 Pioneer, 13-5-0-1) outshot No. 2 Boyertown (9-20-1, 13-5-0-1), 51-47. Zachary Rosen, Brendan Cutillo and Logan Brown scored in the first period for Boyertown and Noah Cutillo produced the 4-1 lead with 12:20 to go in the second. Brady Callahan scored for the Wildcats to tie the score at 1-1 in the first.