Council Rock Indians Legendary Varsity Ice Hockey Head Coach

A new coach begins a new era for Council Rock Indians Ice Hockey.

This chronicle is a biographical construct from various archived personal newspaper interviews, and personal accounts from Paul Gilligan's career as head coach of the Council Rock Indians Varsity Ice Hockey Team.

By Ross Porubski
Youth Hockey Info


It's the 1983-84 season and Doug Melvin has placed third in the SHSHL "Liberty Conference" behind number one Cherry Hill East Cougars, and number two Bishop Eustace Prep Crusaders. Melvins team made it to the SHSHL Finals and upset the Cougars, 5-4 1:56 into OT winning the championship. The Indians squad moved on to the Flyers Cup Tournament where they made it to the championship game and lost to the Archbishop Ryan Raiders by a score of (5-4). Melvin juggled his time and availability between working full time at Face-off Circle while running the ROTC program at Villanova. He decided his career required more attention than his coaching duties and chose to step away and move on. Doug convened with Paul Gilligan after an end of season Council Rock practice to discuss possible replacement, team managers Mr. Jacob, And Mr. Rankel are on board with the idea. The season ends and Doug moves on, Paul Gilligan takes over head coaching responsibilities for the Council Rock Indians. After graduating college, Melvin went on to become an officer in the United States Army. He has held a variety of security roles in the US military and government, including director of security at the White House, DHS country director for Iraq, and director of the TSA for the state of Idaho. He now owns his own private security consulting company with a focus on alternative energy solutions.


  • Paul graduated Cheltenham High School in 1978. Before the beginning of the 1979-80 season the Cheltenham head coach decided to step down. Nobody jumped at the job and Paul stepped in to take over. The team went (2-22-0) for the season in the Freedom Conference. Gilligan stayed on running the team for the 1980-81 season and came back strong from the previous season's second to last place finish. Climbing the Freedom Conference ladder, his Panthers finished in second place with a (10-5-4) record making the playoffs.

Gilligan's resume is impressive, in 1981-82 Paul was working at Wintersport in the pro shop and was head coach of Upper Moreland while going to college and playing college soccer. In 1982-83 Upper Moreland ice hockey team folds, Paul was coaching Wintersport Midget B while still working at the rink and going to college. Gilligan marched that team to the Mid-Atlantic region district championship, and won. In 1983-84 26yr old Paul was coaching the Marple Newtown Tigers (7-8-2) in the ICSHL and stepped in mid-season with Penn State Abington Ogontz. The new head coach replaced Sal Malvesato after only 7 games into the season and an existing (3-3-1) record. Upon Gilligan's appointment the Lions skaters immediately went on a five-game winning streak. Over the course of two seasons Paul Gilligan took his midget B team to the district championship, and two last-place teams one in High School and the other college to their respective postseason playoffs.


In the 1984-85 Paul steps in and the team goes (13-6-1) good for 2nd place in the always strong Liberty conference of the SHSHL. The Indians beat the Abington Ghosts from the Freedom Conference, game one 11-0, and game two 13-2 in the two game goal differential series. Next up CR faced Bishop Eustace in the semi-finals and won 9-6. In Gilligan's first season with the Indians, they went to the SHSHL finals and were dealt a crushing defeat from Cherry Hill in quadruple OT 6-5. Council Rock participated in the Flyers Cup Tournament but was eliminated.

Paul Gilligan, Council Rock Indians
Head Coach
Moving on to the 1985-86 season, the Indians lost a number of seniors and began a youth movement which would define the style it's burgeoning new coach demanded. Council Rock went (9-6-2) and finished in 3rd place heading into the playoffs they faced Cheltenham. In their 2 game goal differential series they lost game one 6-4, and game two 6-0 thus eliminating the Indians from the playoffs and Flyers Cup contention.

In the 1986-87 season an informal poll of coaches showed Archbishop Wood, and William Tennent as favorites in the Northern League. Council Rock was the choice in the Suburban League, by Scott Huff, senior high school sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Indians finished the regular season tied with the Central Bucks East Blazers, both with matching (16-2-0) records leaving the two teams sharing first place as co-champs. Council Rock won won their semi-final 2 game goal differential series over the Eastern Regional Vikings tying game one 7-7 and winning game two 7-2. The victory placed CR in the the SHSHL finals against Central Bucks East. The Blazers promptly eliminated Council Rock sweeping them 4-1 and 4-2. The Indians were out of Flyers Cup contention.


The 1987-88 SHSHL was forecast to be a dogfight between Council Rock and defending SHSHL champ Central Bucks Blazers. They would not disappoint. Council Rock finished the regular season a with a (15-0-2) record, edging their rival Central Bucks Blazers by 1 point in the SHSHL finishing with the league's best record. The Indians beat the Bishop Eustace Crusaders to advance to SHSHL Finals. Council Rock Swept Central Bucks East in the best of three series by a score of 2-1 after the first game, and 11-2 in the second game to win the SHSHL championship. Council Rock headed off to the Flyers Cup Tournament fired up to face off against the Archbishop Wood Vikings in game one of preliminary play, Rock won their first game by a score of 6-3. In their second game of the preliminary round they met up with LBCSHL powerhouse Bishop Egan Eagles, handing them a 6-2 loss sending the Indians to the Flyers Cup semi-finals against Conestoga. The Pioneers put up a strong fight playing Council Rock to a 3-3 tie in regulation. The game was decided on a fluke goal in triple OT that was flipped out of the corner by Chris Cervellero and trickled between the legs of the stunned Conestoga goalie, the final score was 4-3. After 3 seasons Rock heads into their first Flyers Cup under coach, Paul Gilligan. The Indians and Eagles played a strong defensive game keeping it tight the entire night. The Indians however would get the best of Bishop Eagan and win by a score of 3-2 for their first AAA Flyers Cup title. "We tried to get a lot of point shots, hoping we'd get the rebounds," Council Rock coach Paul Gilligan said. "He [Burgess] always makes the big saves but gives up the rebounds, and we knew that. We got all three goals that way." Due to various players club team obligations for nationals, the Indians bowed out of the Pennsylvania State Cup Championship, the Archbishop Wood Vikings substituted for Rock, and lost.

Council Rock Indians, 1988 Flyers Cup AAA champions

The 1988-89 season did not wind up where anybody had expected. The injury bug would play a major role and overall expectations were not met. The Indians still wound up playing an undefeated season and turned out an impressive (14-0-2) regular season record, good enough to be regular season champs. The playoffs started off well as the Indians beat Cheltenham in their two game goal differential series 8-0 in game one, and 14-3 in game two. The Indians advanced to the best of 3 SHSHL Finals and that's where the wheels fell off. Council Rock was swept losing game one 3-2, and game two 10-6 by the Central Bucks Blazers. The Indians played West Chester East in the opening round of the Flyers Cup playoffs and beat the Vikings with the 10-goal rule with 5 minutes left to play by the score of 13-3. Unfortunately for CR, they met up against two much stronger teams in quarter final play, losing to Conestoga 3-1 in first game of the preliminary round. Then lost to the Malvern Prep Friars in the second game of preliminary play by a score of 10-3.

It's 1989-90 and it's out with the... Well let's just say the NSHL folded, William Tennent, and the Archbishop Wood Vikings are returning to their roots. William Tennent, the perennial NSHL powerhouse has moved back into the SHSHL where they will skate a regular season schedule including 2 games each against all divisional SHSHL teams. Additionally, there is now a New Jersey sub-section of the SHSHL which will also compete in the league. The league has expanded and gotten even stronger, and more competitive. The Faceoff Circle in Warminster is the home rink of the SHSHL. The league will run under a new format this season. There will be a Pennsylvania Conference with the six teams west of the Delaware River and a New Jersey Conference for the five teams east of the river. The Pennsylvania Conference has Archbishop Wood, Central Bucks, Cheltenham, Council Rock, Germantown Academy, and William Tennent. The New Jersey Conference teams are Bishop Eustace, Cherokee, Cherry Hill East, Eastern Regional, and Washington Township.

Is it a rebuild, or isn't it? "At the beginning of the season, I looked at my roster, hoped we could go 10-7 and possibly make the playoffs," Gilligan said. "We only have one senior on the entire team. I'm counting on a lot of freshmen and sophomores. "I have a ton of young kids, and they're going to play," Gilligan said. "I was going to maybe write off this year and rebuild, but I really think this team has a chance to win now." The young Indians team finished the season (12-2-1) and in 2nd Place. Amazingly It came down to the last game of the season against the stacked William Tennent team to decide which team would be regular season champions. The Rock who had already beaten Tennent 4-1 in their only matchup of the season needed to outlast the Panther's offense by at least one goal in order to take sole possession of 1st place. That wouldn't happen though, Council Rock slept walked through their final matchup and ended up losing 5-1, and William Tennent won with the league's best record. Council Rock opened the playoffs facing Cherokee from the new Jersey division which ended in a 7-3 win for the Indians. Coach Paul Gilligan was unhappy with the playoff system. "I don't know what the answer is, but it's not right to have some of the Jersey teams in the playoffs and not Germantown Academy," Gilligan said. "GA is a good team. We played lousy against Cherokee, and we still won easily." Council Rock played host to Central Bucks East in the best of 3 league semifinals losing game one 3-1 as well as game two 3-2 in OT giving the Blazers the opportunity to advance to the SHSHL league finals against Tennent, thus eliminating CR's hope for a Flyers Cup birth.

The SHSHL is expanding in the 1990-91 season to 16 teams and a modified playoff format has been added. Council Rock coach Paul Gilligan, however, is not a big fan of the SHSHL's new format. The Indians, who finished second in the league last season behind William Tennent, are considered prohibitive favorites to win the title this year. "My number-one concern is for the student-athletes at Council Rock," Gilligan said. "And playing in this league with the expansion teams is not in the best interest of Council Rock. "We should be playing the good teams like Germantown Academy, CB East, William Tennent, and Archbishop Wood more than once during the course of the regular season. But the way the schedule is set up, we play them as often as we play the expansion teams - once. "Not only isn't it a good thing for good teams, but it's also not good for the expansion teams, either. We have just thrown them to the wolves. The expansion teams being added are Lansdale Catholic, Central Bucks West, Quakertown, Shawnee, Bishop Eustace, and Lenape. Another new look to the league will be the playoff format. Gone are the Pennsylvania and New Jersey conferences. Everybody will make the playoffs. The first-round games will be single elimination and will feature teams that finished ninth through sixteenth in the regular season, 9 plays 16, 10 plays 15, 11 plays 14, and 12 plays 13. The four survivors will play the teams that finished fifth through eighth with the matchups being top seed against the lowest remaining, and so on. This round is also single elimination. The four survivors of this round will advance to the quarterfinal round against the top four finishers in the regular season, the top seed against the lowest seed, and so on. The four survivors of the quarter-final advance to the semi-finals to determine the last two standing who will compete for the best of three SHSHL championship.

Council Rock finished the season behind number one Germantown Academy, Rock's only blemish was the one-game defeat against Germantown Academy with a final record of (14-1-0) and 2nd place overall. Rock played Cherry Hill East to a 9-3 blowout in their single-elimination quarterfinal placing them in a holding pattern for several days before facing William Tennent in the semi-finals. "We killed them," Gilligan said. "We came out strong, and we never let them in the game. That is the style of play that I would hope we could repeat every game. Council Rock won the first game against the Panthers by a score of 6-3. Number two Council Rock then faced number one Germantown Academy in the SHSHL Finals. In the first game, it came down to the very last tick of the clock to decide the tie-breaking goal scored by Roman Bussetti off of the post. The refs concluded that the puck had crossed the line during regulation giving the Rock a first-game 3-2 win. Game two wasn't a conventional game for Germantown Academy by any means. After hard-nosed defensive play over the first period and the beginning of the second the game kind of devolved into a rock-em sock-em robot's match. Both teams wound up losing personnel to multiple ejections and a total 38 penalties in all were called throughout. In the end Council Rock ultimately blasted the Patriots by a score of 9-3 to win the 1991 SHSHL Championship. "It was a case of two good teams playing very hard to win," said Council Rock coach Paul Gilligan. "We are a physical team, and I was a little surprised that they tried to play our game. Frankly, I thought that was a mistake." Council Rock moved onto the Flyers Cup semi-finals facing the Father Judge Crusaders from the LBCSHL, and much like game two of the SHSHL Championship series against GA, this would playout much the same. Penalties, ejections and the same exact 9-3 score would strike down Judge's opportunity to move onto the Finals against Malvern. "We got away with a win without playing our best hockey. If we had played one of the better teams, like a Germantown Academy or a Malvern, we would not have been able to win." Rock matched up against Malvern Prep in the Flyers Cup Finals. In game one at the Faceoff Circle the Indians skated away with a 3-2 victory in the best of three series. Game two wouldn't be much different, a different venue but the same outcome, Council Rock won it's second AAA Flyers Cup championship in three years at the Skatium in Havertown by the score of 3-2. Not to be outdone, Council Rock went into the Pennsylvania State Cup AAA Finals completely undefeated in the post season. Next on their radar was Armstrong Central from western Pennsylvania, and this game was played at Viking Arena in Lower Merion. The Rock came out slow but turned it on late. With great play between the pipes from Tom Kratchwell and the team not giving to their opponent, the Indians skated away with a 5-4 victory and winning their first state championship.

Council Rock Indians, 1991 Pennsylvania State Cup AAA champions

It's the 1991-92 season, Rock is SHSHL Favorite again, and there's a new look to the SHSHL and its alignment, this season there will be 3 divisions based on competitive strength. Division 1, division 2 and division 3. Rock is placed in the top division with perennial powers William Tennent, Germantown Academy, and Central Bucks East. The Indians blew through the regular season undefeated (15-0-0) and won league best record. Rock faced Central Bucks East in the semi-finals playing a best of two game goal differential series. In the first game the Indians skated away with a 7-1 win, and in the second game they demolished the Blazers by a score of 15-0. Onto the finals Council Rock faced off against second place William Tennent. Game one did not go as planned for the CR skaters, while they outshot and controlled the game pretty much all of Tennent's shots on goal went in giving them a 5-2 game one win. In game two both teams played extremely tight defense but the Panthers took a 2-0 lead which they carried late into the 3rd period before Rock staged a late rally when Eric Kratchwell scored to put Rock on the board with roughly 4 mins left. Shortly after with two minutes left Ross Porubski scored to tie the game and send it into overtime. With 2 minutes 38 seconds to go in OT Ross Porubski scored to tie the series at one game apiece and forcing game three. Game three went much the same way as game two as the Panthers carried a 1-0 lead late into the third period again, before Ross Porubski found Justin Kurzac wide open and tied the game at 1-1. The overtime period looked like it was heading to a second OT period before Dave Prasch scored with 5 seconds left in the extra period giving the Panthers the SHSHL championship win. Council Rock was given a second chance to enter the Flyers Cup at Class AA because they had the best overall record between the SHSHL and LBCSHL. In order to get there, they had to play the Father Judge Crusaders in Flyers Cup AA semi-final playoffs where they won by a score of 8-5. Council Rock, while not in Class AAA returned to the finals for the second year in a row facing the same Malvern Prep Friar team, (minus Mark Sakers) they had faced in the 91 finals. Council Rock won game one 10-6, then lost game two 8-4. Game 3 seemed to have everything go wrong for Malvern, and coach Bob Davis was at a loss of words to be able to explain how they lost 9-1 allowing Council Rock to skate away with the Class AA Flyers Cup championship. The Rock skaters next headed out to Pittsburgh to play for the Pennsylvania State Cup AA Championship against the Johnstown Trojans at the Civic Center, otherwise known as "The Igloo". Council Rock wasted no time getting out to a 1-0 lead when Mike Raditz spotted Ross Porubski coming out of the penalty box setting him free on a 1 on none break putting the puck between the legs of the prone Trojan goalie. Council Rock won the game 4-0 and captured their second state title in two years.

Council Rock Indians, 1992 Pennsylvania State Cup AA champions

Turnover, almost half of the team is gone to graduation in the 1992-93 season, but Council Rock and William Tennent are looking like odds-on favorites going into the season. It came down to the last game of the season for second place Council Rock, (15-3-0) to hand William Tennent their first loss, ending their undefeated streak. Underachieving Rock bowed to Germantown Academy in the SHSHL semifinals eliminating them from post season and Flyers Cup Tournament. "To be honest, we're better than that, too many guys minds were somewhere else and not in the game," said coach Paul Gilligan. CR is out of the post season for the first time in 4 years

The 1993-94 season had weather problems, and that's an understatement. The relentless series of snow and ice storms did major damage to the SHSHL schedule. Various postponements and cancellations left league officials with no other choice but to restructure the playoff format. The SHSHL is undergoing a transformation again, the first since 1989 when the NSHL folded and the SHSHL absorbed William Tennent and Wood, while also adding 5 New Jersey teams and adopting a two-conference league, The Pennsylvania and New Jersey Conferences. Out is the 2 conference, 4 division system, in is a three-division alignment with 3 teams in each division. The AAA division will feature defending league champion William Tennent, Flyers Cup semi-finalist Germantown Academy, and perennial powerhouse Council Rock, the league winner should come from this divsion. The AA division will feature Central Bucks East, Cheltenham, and Eastern Regional of New Jersey. The A division will feature Central Bucks West, Archbishop Wood, and Washington Twp of New Jersey. Of these six teams they will be hard-pressed to compete for the league title. Council Rock regrouped and came back strong with a (14-1-3) record as regular season champs. The Indians faced Germantown Academy in the best of three SHSHL title series. The Patriots won game one 4-3, and Council Rock won game two 6-2 to force a deciding game three. The third game was a defensive display with both teams tightening up and limiting offensive chances. The game stayed tied at two goals a piece through regulation sending the game into overtime. The Indians got the better of the Patriots though scoring the game winner beating GA 3-2 in OT to win season title. Rock faced Germantown again in the Flyers Cup but this time GA got the better of them winning the game 6-4. "Germantown Academy jumped on us very quickly, but we stormed right back," said council rock coach Paul Gilligan. "But GA played the better game in the third period, and you win big games when you play your best hockey at the end of the game."

Council Rock Indians, 1992 Pennsylvania State Cup AA champions

The 1994-95 was a little different for Rock. After complaints from parents about varsity eligibility two teams were formed, varsity l and varsity ll. It would be a tale of two polar opposite teams as varsity l went (14-3-1) good for second place while varsity ll was dead last in the league with a (1-16-1) record. Varsity l was swept by Germantown in the best of three championship series two games to none after losing game one 5-3, and game two 3-2. Things didn't get much better in the Flyers Cup Tournament as the Indians faced off again and lost to GA in the semi-finals 6-1

The 1995-96 was back to normal. Council Rock, still strong wound up with almost the same record as last season (15-3-0) and once again finished in second place for the season. This time though they won the SHSHL Title in best of three series against Germantown Academy winning game one 5-1 and game two 10-8. "We beat GA in a tight defensive game, and we beat them in a shootout," said Gilligan, whose squad had lost to the Patriots three times during the regular season. "Senior Dave Jaworski had 4 goals to pace the Indians in the series-clinching victory. "He took control of the game," Gilligan said. "He just picked the puck up and went end to end anytime he wanted." Lost to Egan in quarter Finals 4-1

The 1996-97 Council Rock hockey team wasn't exactly brimming with confidence when it entered the postseason. Though it had recorded a respectable regular season (13-2-4) record, the squads play had been lackluster at times. A lack of depth, too, had hindered its progress. "No rational-thinking person who saw us play during the regular season would have thought we would come within a game of playing for the state championship," coach Paul Gilligan said. This Council Rock team was stacked, sending 5 players, (Shaun Young, Matt Skinner, Frank Jannotta, Tim Rink, and Shaun McGinty) to the SHSHL All-Star game and finished in second place and went on to face Germantown Academy in the SHSHL Finals. Rock lost game one 5-3, won game two 3-1, and eliminated GA with a 6-3 victory in game 3. GA would lose to the Council Rock again in the Flyers Cup semi-finals by a score of 2-1, advancing the Indians to the Flyers Cup AAA finals. Council Rock faced the Malvern Prep Friars in the best of three series. The Indians won game one by a score of 6-4, they then lost game two 4-2, and the final game 5-2 giving Malvern the championship win.

1997 Council Rock Indians

The 1997-98 Council Rock squad has quietly climbed its way up the Suburban High School Hockey league American Division. Though the Indians had resided in the lower half of the six-team division for most of the season, they are now in second place after a 5-0 shutout of Hatboro-Horsham. "To finish in second place would be a great accomplishment especially when you consider how we started the season," coach Paul Gilligan said. The Indians finished with a 14-8-0 record and did finish in second place. Rock would lose to North Penn in the SHSHL semi-finals and did not make the Flyers Cup Tournament cut.

The 1998-99 Indians, riding a wave of momentum after having beaten Germantown Academy in the best of three SHSHL championship were considered a sleeper team in the Flyers Cup Tournament. To get there Council Rock finished the season in second place with a (19-2-2) record beating. They began the post season beating William Tennent in semifinals 7-1 and 11-0. Council Rock then won the SHSHL title in the best of three series against Germantown Academy sweeping them scoring 10-2 in game one, and 5-4 in game two. A heartbreaking overtime Flyers Cup preliminary round loss to Father Judge 4-3 in OT eliminated Rock from the tournament, thus ending their season.

In the 1999-2000 Council Rock (18-4-0) tied GA for best record, but Germantown was awarded 1st place due to more goals for between the two teams three regular season meetings. The Patriots won all three games, 4-2 | 4-3 | 2-0. However, Council Rock won the SHSHL semi-final round vs Abington game one 5-2, and game three 5-3 to advance to the SHSHL Finals against Germantown in the best of three series. The Patriots opened the series with a game one 6-3 win, and CR came back to tie the series at one game apiece with a 5-2 win in game two. It all came down to a final game three where GA outskated the Indians with a 3-2 victory. Council Rock was eliminated in the first round of the Flyers Cup Tournament with 3-2 loss to Clearview.

In the 2000-01 season Council Rock finished second behind the Abington Ghosts with a (13-3-2) record.

The 2001- 02 season was the last for Paul Gilligan's Council Rock team in the SHSHL, finishing with a (9-5-3) record and 2nd place. Gilligan coached two more seasons in the ICSHL's strongest division before stepping down after 2 decades behind the bench for Council Rock
2002-03 - 12-6-0 ICSHL
2003-04 - 7-9-2 ICSHL

Paul still coaches Division lll club at Neumann college. He hand picks his players and recruits every single one of them.

  • 1984-85: 13-6-1 2nd place Lost to Cherry Hill in SHSHL Championship.
  • 1985-86: 7-4-1 3rd place.
  • 1986-87: 16-2-0 1st place. Best record tied with CB East - lost to CB E SHSHL Championship.
  • 1987-88: 15-0-2 1st place. Best record. Won SHSHL Championship - Won Flyers Cup AAA - No states.
  • 1988-89: 11-1-0 1st place. Best record. Lost to CB E SHSHL Championship.
  • 1989-90: 12-2-1 2nd place.
  • 1990-91: 14-1-0 2nd place. Won SHSHL Championship - Won Flyers Cup AA - Won PA State Cup AAA.
  • 1991-92: 15-0-0 1st place. Best record. Lost to Tennent in SHSHL Championship. Won Flyers Cup AA - Won PA State Cup AA.
  • 1992-93: 14-3-0 2nd place.
  • 1993-94: 14-1-3 1st place. Best record. Won SHSHL Championship.
  • 1994-95: 14-3-1 2nd place. Lost to GA SHSHL Championship.
  • 1995-96: 15-3-0 2nd place. Won SHSHL Championship.
  • 1996-97: 13-2-4 2nd place. Won SHSHL Championship - Lost Flyers Cup AAA to Malvern.
  • 1997-98: 14-8-0 2nd place.
  • 1998-99: 19-2-2 2nd place. Won SHSHL Championship.
  • 1999-00: 18-4-0 2nd place. Lost to GA SHSHL Championship.
  • 2000-01: 13-3-2 2nd place.
  • 2001-02: 9-5-3 2nd place.
*Does not include non-league or post season
236 Wins 56 Losses 19 Ties

*League best record, (1st place) 5 times, went to SHSHL League Finals 12x's, won SHSHL League title 6 times, Went to Flyers Cup AAA and AA finals 4 times, won Flyers Cup AAA twice, AA once, Won PA State Cup AAA once, Won PA State Cup AA once

Historical content credit

  • Don McKee | Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Mike Missanelli | Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Gary Miles | Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Tim Panaccio | Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Scott Huff | Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Rick O'Brien | Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Germantown Academy Alumni
  • PRISM Sports
  • Suburban Cable Sports

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