The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Checking into the championship

Look back on the Aces hockey season as the winter wraps up.

This winter season, the boys’ varsity ice hockey team reached a level of success that’s completely exceeded all expectations. This year, their magical season included a historic run all the way to the Central League finals,
before finally meeting their match in a climactic showdown against Penncrest.

For the last few years, the team has faced numerous hardships and challenges. Three years ago, the Aces won just four games, missing the playoffs. Two years ago, the team also couldn’t reach the postseason. Last year, LM dropped down to Division Two: the league below the Central League. Even against lesser competition, the Aces came away with just three wins. Following this string of poor seasons, the previous head coach was fired. At that point, goalie Juliano Lucca ’23 admits, “the organization was as low as it could have gotten.” However, following these continually disappointing seasons, something truly special has happened.

This season started with the hiring of new head coach Dan Harkins. He brought new policies, pushing the team hard to improve. Harkins is assisted by Mike Pomante and Stephen Tartaglia. The team as a whole worked tirelessly to
improve, with certain players stepping up to help lead the Aces. Defenseman Dylan Peterson ’23 has been a leader in the locker room for the Aces, while fellow defenseman Andrew McCann ’23 has inspired the team with his work ethic on the ice. Captain Connor Dilion ’23 has been a great leader and served as an
example of what hard work can accomplish. As a result of the team’s commitment to
improve, the Aces finished the regular season in fourth place with eight wins. One particularly impressive triumph came against last year’s Division Two champions Marple Newton in overtime. Every year, LM plays in the Battlefield Mainline Cup against Radnor. After losing last season, they decimated the Raptors by a score of 7-1. The annual Thanksgiving contest against Harriton is always highly anticipated; the Aces beat the cross-district rivals this season after losing in 2021.

The Aces avenged their loss against Radnor from the previous season in emphatic fashion, winning 7-1 in the Battlefield Main Line Cup. | Photo courtesy of Lower Merion Ice Hockey Club

The Aces started their Central League playoff run with a 5-2 victory against Springfield. In this dominant performance by the Aces, Peterson scored twice with forwards Jeremey Kagan ’24 and Sam Flood ’26, both tallying two assists. Next, the Aces crushed the top seeded Haverford 4-0. Haverford has consistently been a top dog, making the finals for the last four years straight. Goalie Will Zeger ’25 helped lead the shutout with 28 saves. Forward Jack Rabinowitz from Jack M. Barrack Academy had a goal with two assists and forward Noam Nisimi ’24 had a goal 
with one assist. This win, LM’s first against Haverford since 2017, earned the squad a spot in the Central League Championship against Penncrest. After going down two goals early on, Toby Myers ’25 secured the Aces’ first score late in the first period. In the second period, Haverford scored three times compared to Nisimi’s lone goal. This meant that entering the third, the Aces were down 5-2. Despite the deficit, LM showcased their dogged dedication once again, mounting a comeback. With a Peterson goal followed by another Nisimi score, the Aces were down just one with time quickly ticking. Unfortunately, with Zeger pulled from the ice, Penncrest struck the nail in the coffin with an empty net score, and won the game 6-4. 

Despite not getting the outcome they wanted, the team has plenty to be proud of when looking back on the campaign. Lucca’s original goal for the season was simply to “come back to a team that’s respectable and competitive.” Clearly, the team has done that and more–they’ve collectively crushed all expectations. The team has worked hard and accomplished a monumental shift in success. They have also qualified for the prestigious Flyers Cup in the Double A division. Undoubtedly, the organization is in the best shape it’s been in years, with nothing but a bright future ahead.

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