JOHNSTOWN - Fredrik Eriksson hadn't played ice hockey in a couple of years, but he decided to return to the sport when he came to Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School as an exchange student from Sweden.
"I just tried it out for fun and to meet people, and I enjoyed it," Eriksson said.
He got to know guys like Tyler Smith and Cullen Erisman a little more closely than he'd have liked at Planet Ice on Monday night. Smith and Erisman typified a hard-hitting Ferndale approach that had Eriksson and his Marauder teammates frustrated for much of their Laurel Mountain Hockey League quarterfinal game against a team they'd dominated in two regular-season encounters.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bishop Guilfoyle’s Ambrose Aquadro (center) is congratulated by teammates Milo?DeFay (left) and Catcher Cumming after scoring a goal Monday night.
Guilfoyle's Ambrose Aquadro, though, found the back of the net for the second time with just 1:40 to play to break a 1-all deadlock and send the Marauders into Wednesday's semis with a 4-1 victory over the game Yellow Jackets.
"I was just trying to get anything on the net, trying to look for the open shot. I was just trying to do anything I could to get the team through it," Aquadro said. "Their goalie [Tanner Murphy] was amazing. I think we had 32 shots. He stopped 28 of them."
Guilfoyle, seeded third coming into the playoffs, will face second-seeded Johnstown in the next round. The Marauders had beaten Ferndale by a combined 16-2 in its previous two meetings.
"If we had played the games like the ones we had played previously, it should not have been a close game. We should have been able to put them away early. We did not," BG coach John Antesberger said. "I told our players you can make up for a lot in ice hockey with hustle and physicality. That's exactly what Ferndale did. And they almost pulled it off.
"I think we had a couple of good shifts [toward the end of the game]. We put the puck in the net the old-fashioned way by wearing them down."
Aquadro, though, isn't an old-fashioned player. He honed his skills on roller blades instead of ice skates, something he thinks helped make his puck-handling his biggest asset. Because of that, he fashions himself as more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer.
That doesn't mean he can't score goals. In fact, his two on Monday gave him the team lead with 25.
Aquadro tied the game with just 1:36 left in the second period when he broke into the open, crossed over and slid the puck past Murphy. Then, with overtime looming in the final minutes of the third, Aquadro began to assert himself more around the net.
Murphy and Ferndale's tight, collapsing defense, stopped him a couple of times late in the third period. However, when Catcher Cumming came up with the puck in the corner and outdueled a Ferndale defender to slip it over, Aquadro made sure he didn't miss again, going over Murphy's shoulder for the go-ahead goal.
Cody Rossman and Joseph Dombrowski tacked on BG tallies - Aquadro assisting on Dombrowski's - to put the game away.
Catcher just made a nice hustle play and and outmuscled the defenseman to push it back to me. I got a lucky bounce off the goalie's shoulder and it went in," Aquadro said. "I was just trying to look for whatever was open, and it happened that I had an open shot."
Eriksson, a defenseman, had two assists.
"It's always nervous to go into a playoff game. I've been through it a lot of time, so I've been getting used to it," Eriksson said. "They were really physical and had good defense. But I think we passed it around fast and had speed on our legs, so I thought we did a good job."
Ferndale only managed nine shots on Guilfoyle goalie Alex Clarke, but the Yellow Jackets (5-13-1) managed to grab the lead with 17.7 seconds left in the first period when Noah Sakmar went around the back of the net with his own rebound and punch it home.
"We worked hard in practice trying to put in a system to slow them down a little bit," Ferndale coach Brian Riffle said. "They were so much better than us in the regular season. My thought was if we could get up a goal, as the game went on, they would tighten up more and more. Unfortunately, we gave up the goal late in the game."
Antesberger and Aquadro both thought the easy earlier wins against Ferndale might have worked against the Marauders.
"I think we came in thinking we beat them easily the last couple of games, and some of us had a week break. That might have slowed us down," Aquadro said. "But they really played hard."
FIRST PERIOD: F-Sakmar (unassisted), 14:42.3.
SECOND PERIOD: BG-Aquadro (Eriksson), 13:24.
THIRD PERIOD: BG-Aquadro (Cumming), 13:20; BG-Rossman (Bogert), 13:42; BG-Dombrowski (Eriksson, Aquadro), 14:25.8.
Goalies: Ferndale, Murphy 28-32; Bishop Guilfoyle Clarke 9-8.
Officials: Noel Graham, Mark Kadas, Matt Wincer, Brian Shoff.
Team records: Ferndale (5-13-1); Bishop Guilfoyle (14-7).