The biggest postseason night of the 2017 PIHL Playoffs took place Thursday with eleven Quarterfinals contests including all four 3-A games, three games in 2-A and 1-A and one final Quarterfinals game in Division II. The tight competitive hockey that has been the theme of this postseason continued with five visiting teams picking up wins and advancing to the Final Four. Here are recaps from those games that set the state for the Semifinals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
A special thanks to Matt Vandriak, Sean Meyers, Ed Troup, Sean Saputo, Kevin Zielmanski, Don Rebel, Josh Rowntree, Mike Azadian, Randy Gore and Lou Rood for their help on these recaps.
PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS 3-A Quarterfinals:
Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings 5 – Butler Golden Tornado 3
Top seed Central Catholic (17-4-0) scored a trio of third period goals to secure a 5-3 PIHL Class AAA First Round win over No. 8 Butler (7-11-3) on Thursday night at the Alpha Ice Complex in Harmarville. With the win, the Vikings advance to the Semifinals, where they will meet No. 5 Seneca Valley on Wednesday, March 15 at 6:45 p.m. at Robert Morris’ Island Sports Center. Central Catholic’s scoring came primarily from four players, with Ryan Haag and Ryan Kingerski each scoring a goal and assisting three more, while Jake Kingerski and Christian Caparelli recorded three-point nights. After a scoreless first period, Butler’s Jerome Oliver would open the scoring just 19 seconds into the second on an unassuming snipe shot over Vikings’ goalie Nate Cava. But Caparelli answered shortly after with his first goal after excellent passes from Haag and Ryan Kingerski. However, Butler responded 17 seconds later on a Gavin Morrison goal, giving the Golden Tornado a 2-1 lead. At the 6:38 mark, Caparelli hit the net again, redirecting a Jake Kingerski slap shot into the net. But again, Butler had an answe, as Garet Banner jammed in a side-of-net shot to give the Golden Tornado a 3-2 lead after two periods. Early in the third period, Central Catholic would kill an extensive 5-on-3 Butler power play. Having snatched the momentum, Jake Kingerski banged home a pass from Jake Tepe for Central Catholic’s tying goal. The Vikings never looked back. Ryan Haag would break the scoring less than three minutes later, directing a puck into the net with his skate. The goal was discussed by officials, but upheld. Just three minutes after Haag’s goal, Ryan Kingerski would wrap up the victory with a power play goal, giving Central Catholic the 5-3 win. Cava made 37 saves on 40 shots for Central Catholic, while his counterpart, Nick Farmerie, stopped 21 pucks for Butler. The game had an ugly end and was called with seven seconds left after multiple fights broke out, resulting in several Butler players leaving the ice before the ceremonial handshake line.
Seneca Valley Raiders 3 – Erie Cathedral Prep Ramblers 1
A big third period rally by Seneca Valley led to the ousting of defending champion Erie Cathedral Prep in a Class 3-A Quarterfinals game Thursday in Erie. After a scoreless first period, Jacob Emerson put Cathedral Prep on top with a goal just 26 seconds in to the second period. Thanks to the goaltending of Dylan Sloat of Seneca Valley, that would be the only tally for the Ramblers. Prep led 1-0 into the third when Christopher Lipnicky tied the game 37 seconds into the third period on a power play goal. Then with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Zach Broskey scored what would be the game winner for the Raiders with the help from an assist by Preston Watkiss. Giovanni Sarachine put the game away with an empty net goal with just over a minute left. The win lifts Seneca Valley to 11-8-2 and into the Semifinals where they will face Pittsburgh Central Catholic on Wednesday while the reign for Cathedral Prep in 3-A ends with a final mark of 10-8-3.
North Allegheny Tigers 3 – Bethel Park Black Hawks 2 in Overtime
Mirroring a thrilling playoff finish from last season, the North Allegheny ice hockey team defeated the Bethel Park Black Hawks in the PIHL quarterfinals with a 3-2 overtime win on Thursday night at the Baierl Ice Complex. A year ago, it was Dawson Richard who scored the game-winning goal to end the Black Hawks season with a 3-2 victory in overtime. This time it was senior Erik Chidester who delivered the game-winning marker to advance to the Tigers to the PIHL semifinals next week. Three of the last four playoff meetings between North Allegheny and Bethel Park have been decided in overtime. Entering this PIHL quarterfinal contest, North Allegheny boasted the top scoring defense in Class AAA, allowing a paltry 47 goals per game. Bethel Park was making its 26th consecutive playoff appearance, also possessing a defensive-minded style of play. After one period of play, it was no surprise that the game was scoreless. In the second period, North Allegheny capitalized on its third power play opportunity of the night and cashed in thanks to a goal by freshman Tyler Lamark, assisted by Justin Kidd and Steven Dietz, for a 1-0 lead with 10:13 remaining. Bethel Park tied the game at 1-1 with 5:16 left in the second period when Austin Read rifled a rebound past NA goalie Ryan Heil. Heil ultimately made 28 saves and picked up the win in net for the Tigers. Following intermission, the Black Hawks stunned the Tigers with a goal just 20 seconds into the third period for a 2-1 lead. Will Douds floated a puck toward the net from the blue line and Jason Bauer deflected the shot into the net to give BP the lead and momentum. Owning a one-goal advantage, Bethel Park packed in the defense but North Allegheny still managed to tie the game at 2-2 when Dietz centered up a beautiful back-hand pass from behind the net to John Parks in the slot who buried the puck with 5:53 remaining in the third period. That set the stage for Chidester’s heroics in overtime that lifted NA to the 3-2 victory. With the win, North Allegheny advances to the PIHL semifinals where it’ll face the Peters Township Indians on Wednesday night at the RMU Island Sports Complex. Faceoff is set for 9:00 p.m.
Peters Township Indians 2 – Canon-McMillan Big Macs 1
The #6 seed Peters Twp. Indians upset the #3 seed Canon-MacMillan Big Macs 2-1 Thursday at the Southpointe Ice-O-Plex dominating the play both in shots on goal and puck possession in their opponents end. Despite losing twice to the Big Macs in the regular season, the Indians were able to win the third meeting by controlling play throughout the game. PT put up 45 shots on Canon Mac goalie Nico Pidro who managed to stop 43 of them and keep his team in the game till the end. The Big Macs put 22 shots on PT goalie Alex Wilbert who was able to save 21, but were only able to generate 10 shots on goal through the first 2 periods. Jack Clendaniel opened the scoring just one minute into the game as he took a slick pass from teammate Jacob McClelland following a PT turnover and beat Wilbert on the first shot he faced to give the Big Macs an early 1-0 lead. After giving up the first goal of the game, Peters Twp. went on to dominate play in the rest of the period but were turned back time and again by stellar saves from Pidro. The Indians finally broke through when Brett Lejeune fired a shot from the point that deflected off the stick of a Big Mac player and floated past Pidro to tie the game at the 15:54 mark of the first. Each team had a power play chance in the 1st period but both were cut short by the 13 second differential between them. Only one goal was scored in the 2nd period when Stephen Rex scored at the 3:07 mark of the period to make it 2-1 PT. The goal turned out to be the game winner as neither team was able to break through for the remainder of the game. Peters Twp. had two more chances on the power play in the period and Canon Mac one, but they proved fruitless for both sides. The 3rd period saw Peters Twp. and Canon Mac both have two more power play chances, but again the penalty kills by to both sides kept the score the same. In all Peters Twp. was 0-4 on the power play and Canon Mac 0-5. Canon Mac pulled Pidro from net with just over a minute left in the game, but were unable to tie the game. The loss ends the season for the Big Macs who finish with an 11-9-1 record. The win moves Peters Twp. to 11-8-2 and into the semi-finals at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center next Wednesday where they will face the #2 seed North Allegheny who defeated Bethel Park 3-2 in overtime.
PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS 2-A Quarterfinals:
Latrobe Wildcats 6 – Moon Tigers 3
At the Baierl Ice Complex in Warrendale the Greater Latrobe Wildcats score the upset over the top seeded Moon Tigers by a score of 6-3. Moon was on fire early and peppered Latrobe goalie Ryan Pal, but he was solid and didn’t give in. Latrobe would score two goals in the first to go up 2-0. Blake Rossi and Jacob Burkardt put pucks behind Moon goalie Julian Wolstencroft and the Wildcats were on a roll. Moon would make it 2-1 late in period one as Jakob Konecsni put the Tigers within one going into the 2nd period. Latrobe could have been up by more but Wolstencroft was amazing in net making 3 acrobatic saves to keep Moon in the game. Latrobe would go up 3-1 on a fantastic goal from Jared Schimizzi, he buried a one timer up High, right corner and again the Wildcats were up two goals. Moon however crept within one as Logan Rosser scored off a shot from the point to get Moon again within one at 3-2, headed into the 3rd period. Into the 3rd :35 seconds in Latrobe again would go up two goals as Gregory Ferri hopped on a loose puck and the Wildcats were up 4-2. Moon would not die and Rosser again would score on a blast from the point to give the Tigers life making it 4-3. Just when it looked like the Tigers were on the comeback Ferri would score once more to give Latrobe a 5-3 lead. With the goalie pulled the last two minutes Moon tried valiantly to get back in the game but Latrobe would ice it with an empty net goal to make the final score 6-3. Moon’s fantastic season ends in devastating fashion as they fall to 16-3-1. This was their first loss by more than one goal. Latrobe improves to 11-9-1 and in an uneven year scores the upset. They will face Quaker Valley on Tuesday March 14th at the RMU Island Sports Center at 6:00 pm in the semi finals.
Plum Mustangs 5 – Shaler Titans 2
The first two meetings between Plum and Shaler this season were anything but competitive, as Plum won 6-1 and 9-1. Although the No. 1 East seed Mustangs prevailed in the third meeting, too, Plum needed a strong third period to claim a 5-2 victory in the Class AA first-round at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington. The Titans, the No. 5 seed from the East, gained an early lead in the affair, as Mitchell Werry slid the puck past Plum goaltender Sergio Benitez on a breakaway less than five minutes into the contest. The lead was short lived, however, as Plum’s Anthony Adamski notched the equalizer less than two minutes later. About halfway through the opening stanza, the Mustangs took the advantage, as blueliner Ryan Loebig’s shot from just inside the blue line fluttered past Shaler’s Wyatt Wolf. Shaler displayed its resolve late in the opening frame, however, as Mitch Fuchs scored the tying tally with just over one minute remaining. From that point forward, though, the Mustangs scored the final three goals of the game, including the winner by Alexi Mance in the second period, as he chipped in a loose puck on a net-front scramble. Just over a minute into the third, Plum’s prolific scorer, Nolan Puhala, received credit for a goal that was seemingly swept into the Shaler net by Titans’ defenseman Zachary Sarnowski, who appeared to be pushing it towards his goalie for a stoppage. From that point on, the Mustangs’ defense kept the Titans from seriously threatening, and Dillon Joyce capped the scoring by notching an empty netter. Puhala and Joyce each tallied two points in the win, while Benitez made 19 stops. In the defeat for Shaler, Wolf recorded 32 saves. With the triumph, Plum advances to face Hempfield Area in the semifinals on Tuesday at the RMU Island Sports Center.
Hempfield Spartans 5 – Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 2
The long drive to Ice Castle and the earlier start time were no problem for the Hempfield Spartans as they blitzed the Mount Lebanon Blue Devils for three goals in the first 5:03 of the game and then rode that sensational start to a 5-2 upset victory in the 2A Quarterfinal contest. Matt Bartus opened the scoring with his 6th goal of the season at the 2:23 mark. That was followed by an unassisted goal by Dominic Schimizzi at the 3:06 mark, his 4th of the year. Finally, it was Schimizzi again, scoring his 5th at the 5:03 mark of the first period. Despite not getting on the scoresheet yet, it was Forward Christian Gorscak of the Spartans utilizing his blazing speed to wreck havoc on the Blue Devil defensemen for most to the first period. No team could have maintained that pace for the entire game and once the Spartans took their first penalty, it was Mount Lebanon turns to dictate the play. It was Anthony Sandora who would cash in the power play for the Blue Devils, getting his 7th goal of the season. Mount Lebanon closed the deficit to one goal when Ryan Gist teamed up with Wyatt George on a marvelous 2 on 2 play, passing it back and forth until Gist converted for his 7th goal. It didn’t take long for Hempfield to reestablish a two goal lead when Gorscak fired a hard pass in front of the goal crease to Jared Gerger who quickly fired it top shelf over the glove of Mount Lebanon goaltender Maxim Clouser. The Spartans lead 4-2 at intermission. The Blue Devils could never close the gap and the Spartans added one more in the third when Mario Colosi slammed home a rebound for his 14th goal of the season. Nolan Ferree was strong in net, making 26 saves as the third seed in the West Division advances to the semifinals next Tuesday night at RMU to play Plum, the East number one seed.
Hempfield 3-1-1 = 5 SOG = 27
Mt. Lebanon 1-1-0 = 2 SOG = 28
PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS 1-A Quarterfinals:
Franklin Regional Panthers 6 – Westmont-Hilltop Hilltoppers 0
The top regular season team in Class-A flexed their muscles in the post-season as well, as Franklin Regional rolled to a 6-0 victory over Westmont Hilltop in this quarterfinal round matchup at Center Ice in Delmont. The Panthers dominated the first period, outshooting the Hilltoppers 14-2. Franklin Regional also got the only two goals of the opening period, as Christian Kitch backhanded home the game’s first goal at the 10:01 mark. 5:33 later, Jason Haines banged home the rebound of Joey Greico’s point shot to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. In the second period it was more of the same, with Franklin Regional having a decisive edge in shots and again, netting the only two goals as well. Jamie Mauro scored 9:58 into the period with assists from Oldrich Virag and Mathieu Sliva. Mauro then found the net again at 13:33 with an unassisted tally to stake the Panthers to a 4-0 lead. Franklin Regional struck for two quick goals in the first minute of the third period to put the game away. Virag scored :43 seconds into the period, then Mauro found the net :07 seconds later. Both goals were unassisted and the results of great individual efforts by both players. Danny Soltesz stopped all 11 shots he faced to own his 9th shutout of the 2016-17 season. Franklin Regional outshot Westmont Hilltop 33 to 11 on the night. With the win, the Panthers improved to 18-1-0 and will face Thomas Jefferson in the Class-A Semi-Finals on Monday night at 5:45pm at the RMU Island Sports Center. Westmont Hilltop, after pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in Penguins Cup playoff history in their first round win over Chartiers Valley, saw their season come to a end with a final record of 11-7-2.
Montour Spartans 3 – Baldwin Highlanders 2
Montour’s Camron Smith scored his 35th goal of the season, assisted by Brandon Eisel, eight seconds into the game, but the Spartans trailed after two periods 2-1. However, the West #5 seed Spartans scored two unanswered goals in the final period, upsetting the West #1 seed Baldwin Highlanders 3-2. After allowing the quick goal eight seconds into the contest, the Highlanders quickly bounced back when Lucas Kirk netted his 14th of the season, assisted by Paul Knerr and Dan Figura, 2:50 later to knot the game at 1-1. The score remained the same at the end of the first, and at the 10:40 mark of the second period, Knerr slapped home his 30th of the season, assisted by Ross Zofcin, to give the Highlanders the 2-1 cushion. Montour opened the third with a power-play and took advantage 1:12 into the period, when Eisel sent home his 15th of the season, assisted by Smith and Billy Flint. It was a back-and-forth stalemate, yet very physical next ten minutes, but at the 11:06 mark of the third period, Matt Tracy squeaked the eventual unassisted game winner past Highlander goalie Cole Shannon, giving the Spartans the 3-2 upset victory on Baldwin’s home ice. For the Spartans, they improve to 12-7-2 on the season and move on to the semi-finals to face the Indiana Little Indians at 8 p.m. Monday at the RMU Island Sports Center in Neville Island. Baldwin finishes its season with a mark of 12-5-2.
Indiana Little Indians 6 – Sewickley Academy Panthers 2
Pat O’Neal scored twice and added an assist as Indiana continues to roll in the postseason with a four goal victory over upset-minded Sewickley Academy. Both of O’Neal’s goals came in the first period in which the Little Indians jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Edward Williams and Mitchell Lewis scored in the second period while Tanner Russella capped off the scoring with a goal in the third period. Sewickley Academy was coming off a big First Round upset of Bishop McCort, but Indiana gave them no chance of pulling off another stunner as the Little Indians out shot the Panthers 46-17. Indiana advances to the Class 1-A Final Four and will battle Montour on Monday.
PIHL DIVISION II Quarterfinals:
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers 6 – Ringgold Rams 2
In a PIHL Division II Quarterfinal game Thursday night from the RMU Sports Complex, the #4 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers used two goal nights by Tyler Cerankowki and Josh Gunia in a 6-2 playoff victory against the #5 Ringgold Rams. Cerankowki got things started just 27 seconds into the game as he was set up by Gage Tisch with an assist and scored giving the Chargers a 1-0 very early lead. With 4:07 left in the opening period, Cerankowki scored again with Mark Zukowski adding an assist this time and OLSH had a 2-0 lead going into the second period. Ringgold got two quick goals from Nathan Todd with 11:57 left in the second period and just 31 seconds later after that, the score was 2-2. OLSH then scored three straight goals in the second period from Josh Gunia, Zukowski and Alec Elinoff with building a 5-2 lead going into the final period. Gunia would score his second goal of the night with 8:15 left in the game increasing the Chargers lead, 6-2. Cerankowki finished the game with four points adding two goals and two assists. Zukowski finished the night with three points with a goal and two assists. Ringgold ends its season at 9-10-2, while OLSH improves to 13-8 and will face the top seed Meadville (20-0-1) next Tuesday night in a PIHL Semifinal game.