Despite injuries, few have had moves like Haverford’s Jagur McClelland – PA Prep Live

HAVERFORD — Jagur McClelland didn’t need any encores from the boisterous crowd at the Skatium on Thursday night. Despite everything the senior Haverford striker had been through, he understood the stakes quite well.

Springfield and Haverford entered the third period of a contentious Central League final tied at 1. McClelland knew the vitriol his opponent and his supporters were bringing to the rink. He was, after all, the architect of Haverford’s 2021 baptism, an 11-1 final clemency affair, on course for a Flyers Cup triumph.

But apart from such drama, McClelland knew what this game meant to him. He had missed all of December and most of January due to a foot injury, an illness that wiped out his chances of hitting the road to play junior-level hockey, and which also significantly diminished the time he could play with his friends at Haverford this senior. season.

There would be no making up for lost time. But in that finale, there was a chance to script a new ending that, at times of a difficult season, seemed unlikely.

McClelland felt that pressure, more than anything thrown from the stands, as he neared the puck drop in the third period.

“I was nervous,” McClelland said. “I tried to keep it simple. My mindset was all over the place, but I just tried to put the puck on the net, and it worked twice, so that was fine.

Nerves didn’t show, although top-seeded Springfield took the lead when Zach Crain scored 2:41 into the third.

In a game where the Fords needed their star player to play like a star, McClelland stepped up like he has his entire career. He assisted on Quinn Carson’s first goal in the first period. Then with less than five minutes left, he buried a pass from Nate Rabadam to make it 2-2. Fifty-two seconds later he laid down what would be the winner of the game.

He was a microcosm of what McClelland has always been: a great player for the greatest moments.

And also, once again, the Daily Times Boys Hockey Player of the Year.

Joining McClelland in the first team is teammate Nate Rabadam; Springfield defenseman Ryan O’Connor and forward Crain; Strath Haven striker Josh Peabody and defender Nick Dignazio and Cardinal O’Hara goalkeeper Christian Green.

McClelland is player of the year for the second straight season. He, Rabadam and Crain are repeat selections. Dignazio, a junior, is the only underclass. The All-Delco team is selected in consultation with local coaches.

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After the highs of 2021, Fords faced the challenge of rebuilding. With McClelland, Rabadam and goaltender Jai Jani a second-team selection for the second year in a row, they had a solid core to start with, but putting the pieces together around them would be a challenge.

It didn’t get any easier when McClelland injured his foot in gym class in mid-November. The barometer, as it has so often been, was provided by Springfield. On November 11, the Fords beat Springfield, 3-2, with McClelland providing a goal and two assists, he and Rabadam setting up Ryan McGlade’s overtime winner. Thirteen days later, without McClelland, the Fords were beaten, 5-1.

Having to play spectator was not to McClelland’s taste, but he tried to help as much as he could.

“I try to stay by their side,” he said. “When we had a movie, I would show up to film and stay with the guys. I stayed with the guys on the bench to practice whenever I could. I just tried to stay close to them. If they needed anything I would try to help them and be captain, be there as a support guy and help them if they needed it.

When he returned to the ice at the start of the year, it was with renewed focus. He played in just 13 games, but his total of 44 points was fifth overall in Delaware County. McClelland tied for ninth with 21 goals and fifth with 23 assists. His 3.38 points per game were the best in the county. That included three goals and three assists in his two outings against Springfield, the teams on a collision course for central supremacy.

“Right away, I think my intensity needs to be higher than it’s ever been before,” he said. “Especially before the injury, I could sometimes make moves, but after being out for a while, especially two months, I have to come back and I had to push a bit harder than I ever had all the time. . season.”

Luck was not on his side in the Flyers Cup, McClelland missed two games due to illness. He returned for the semi-finals, scoring the only goal in Haverford’s 4-1 loss to Council Rock South, ending a bid to repeat as Flyers Cup A champions.

This, however, does not diminish his achievements. McClelland will continue his hockey journey next year with a junior contract in the North American Hockey League. And ironically, it’s with the Springfield Junior Blues in Illinois.

But the legacy he, Rabadam and Jani in particular leave is one they will cherish.

“It’s really good,” McClelland said. “We’ve all been friends for as long as I can remember. To build this legacy that we made together, it’s really nice. It’s a memory we’ll remember for the rest of our lives and reminisce about every time we see each other after college.

Catherine J. Martinez