The competitive nature of these 2017 PIHL high school hockey playoffs continued into Round Three on Monday as both Penguins Cup Class 1-A Semifinals games went down to the wire at the RMU Sports Complex on Neville Island. Defending champion needed a frantic comeback late in the third period to return to the title game while Indiana needed overtime to clinch their second title game trip in the last three years. Here are the recaps from both Class 1-A Semifinals that you can hear or watch archived here on MSA Sports.
A special thanks to Kyle Dawson and Kevin Zielmanski for their help on these recaps.
PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS 1-A Semifinals:
Franklin Regional Panthers 6 – Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 4
After dominating Class A all season long and advancing to the semifinals in the playoffs after a bye and a dominant, shutout win, the top-seeded Franklin Regional Panthers entered Monday’s contest against Thomas Jefferson having not faced much adversity at all in the season to that point. After the first 53 seconds of the matchup, it looked like the Panthers would rout its competition again. At that point, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead, and after the rest of the first period was played scoreless, Franklin Regional’s Oldrich Virag lit the lamp twice in the second period to give the Panthers a 2-0 and then 3-0 lead with 11 minutes and 7:42 remaining in the period, respectively. Then, a power play goal put TJ on the board and the Jags stormed back, using two odd goals to tie the game after that heading to the intermission. The Jags took the lead 4-3 with 8:14 remaining in the third period on a break-away goal by Matthew Kreiger, before the Panthers started the onslaught. Down a goal late, Franklin Regional was able to tie it on a hat-trick goal by Virag. FR took the lead a little less than 2 minutes later on a goal from the slot by Nick Caretta. It was Caretta’s second goal of the game. Jamie Mauro scored an empty netter to seal the deal and give Franklin Regional a 6-4 win, moving it to the Class A Penguins Cup Finals next week on the MSA Sports Network. Thomas Jefferson ends its season 14-7. Franklin Regional got three goals and two assists from Virag, while Mauro had the empty netter and two assists. Caretta had two goals and three assists. For TJ, Hayden Hintemeyer, Mason McGuirk, Daniel Harrold and Kreiger scored the goals, while Dominic Tamburi, Johnny Rimsky, Joey Oliver and Brenden Crousey had assists.
Indiana Little Indians 5 – Montour Spartans 4 in Overtime
There was lots of action and very little discipline in the 1A Semifinal game played at RMU Island Sports between Montour and Indiana. In a game that saw 15 power play opportunities, it was a power play goal scored 4:27 into overtime by Indiana’s Pat O’Neal, his second of the game, that was the difference as Indiana defeated Montour to advance to the 1A Penguin Cup Final. Indiana opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period when Tyler Barker scored on a two-man advantage at the 9:33 mark. Indiana made it 2-0 just 2:01 into the second period, again on the power play, when O’Neal picked a corner over the glove hand of goaltender Zander Stubna, who got the start in place of the Spartans’ injured starter. Aaron Burkhart scored 3 minutes later to make it 3-0 Indiana and it looked like the Little Indians were going to roll. The Spartans, however, were able to turn the momentum with two goals in 15 seconds, the first by Billy Flint and the second by Camron Smith. Later in the second period, the Indians would once again convert on a two-man advantage when Eddie Williams scored to get back the Indians’ two goal advantage at 4-2, the score at the intermission. Montour owned the third period as the Indians decided to get into the penalty parade which allowed the Spartans to dictate play with a sense of urgency. Camron Smith finally broke through the Indians’ defense with a nifty wraparound goal, his second of the game. With only 1:37 remaining in the game, it was the Spartans J.J. Bickel redirecting a shot from just to the right of goaltender Madison Barker to tie the game at 4 and push the game into overtime. A mad scramble occurred in the Indians’ crease 4:10 into overtime and after the whistle, there was plenty of pushing from both teams until there was just one extra, unnecessary slash by a Spartan that prompted a penalty to be assessed. It took only 17 seconds into the power play for O’Neal to gain possession in his own zone and skate the length of the ice, past both benches, into the offensive zone where he fired a shot along the ice that eluded Stubna and launched the Indians’ celebration. Indiana’s special teams were indeed special, converting 4 goals on 8 man-advantage opportunities while killing all 7 Montour chances with the man-advantage. The Indians will play the Franklin Regional Panthers next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the UPMC-Lemieux Center, their fourth appearance in the Penguin Cup, looking for their first championship.
Montour 0-2-2-0 = 4 SOG = 26
Indiana 1-3-0-1 = 5 SOG = 18