Michael Jackson would have loved these 2017 PIHL Penguins Cup Playoffs because they have been littered with postseason Thrillers. On the final night of Semifinals week in these high school hockey playoffs, one game continued the theme while the other was a rare laugher. Top-seed Pittsburgh Central Catholic had to be in comeback mode to advance to the finals in double overtime while Peters Township made it look easy in cruising the the title game. Here are recaps from both PIHL Class 3-A Semifinals from Wednesday night.
A special thanks to Steve Nagler and Sean Saputo for their help on these recaps.
PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS 3-A Semifinals:
Pittsburgh Central Catholic 5 – Seneca Valley Raiders 4 in Double Overtime
The top-seeded Central Catholic Vikings overcame a 2-goal deficit to defeat the Seneca Valley Raiders and advance to the 3-A Penguins Cup Championship game for the first time since 1999. Ryan Kingerski scored his second goal of the game at the 3:09 mark of the 2nd overtime period for the game-winner. The game winning goal was scored with the Raiders short-handed after defenseman Bryce Korner was called for holding. Kingerski one-timed a Jake Tepe pass from the top of the left faceoff circle past Raiders goaltender Dylan Sloat. It was the third time that the Vikings defeated Seneca Valley this year. The Raiders jumped out to an early 1st period lead as Ryan Sheils capitalized on a defensive zone mistake by the Vikings and slipped a shot past goalie Nate Cava at 3:23. The Raiders would outshoot the Vikings 9-2 in the first 17:00 of action, a period where the Vikings looked sluggish for much of the period. Seneca Valley would add to their lead at 1:54 of the 2nd period when Chris Lipnicki beat Cava over the glove side following a slick pass from Ryan Murphy on a 2-on-1, giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead. But, the Vikings got a huge goal from their third line nearly 10 minutes into the 2nd period as Brian Freyvogel would score only his second goal of the entire season to cut the lead to 2-1 which ended up being the margin heading into the third period. Five goals were scored in the first 5:17 of the 3rd period. Central Catholic’s Jake Tepe scored on a blistering wrist shot from just inside the Raiders blue line just 0:43 into the period knotting the score at 2-2. But, Seneca Valley’s Noah Watkiss would score 1:10 later to give the Raiders the lead right back, only to see the Vikings tie the score again 36 seconds later when Ethan Farber scored. The Vikings would take their first lead of the game at 3:16 of the 3rd period when Ryan Kingerski buried a puck past Sloat, assisted by his linemates Christian Caparelli and Anthony Purdue. But, the Raiders would respond 2:01 later as Zachary Broskey scored on a breakaway after another Vikings defensive lapse which tied the score at 4-4. The goaltending was good the remaining 11+ minutes of the 3rd period, through the first 10 minute OT period and until Kingerski’s 2nd marker in double-OT sent the Vikings fans home euphoric. With the win, the Vikings (18-4) will take on Peters Township in the 3-A Penguins Cup Championship game which will be played Wednesday, March 22nd at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Peters Township Indians 7 – North Allegheny Tigers 0
For the third time this year, the North Allegheny Tigers and Peters Township Indians faced-off, this time with a trip to the PIHL AAA Championship game on the line. The first two meetings were polar opposites, the first was a hard fought contest ending in a 2-2 tie and the second, a 4-1 win in favor of the Tigers. This time around, with much more at stake, it was the Indians winning a lopsided 7-0 game. Cal Raymore opened the scoring for the Indians, on the power-play, with 9:56 remaining in the first, assisted by Conner Gielarowski and William Barnes. Just 1:53 later, Stephen Rex gave the Indians a 2-0 lead with an unassisted, short-handed goal. The lead stood at 2-0 after one period. The second period was a stalemate until the Indians took a 3-0 lead with 0:48 left in the period when Jeremy Anthos found the back of the net, assisted by Rex and Matthew Michalowski. The Indians keep the theme of quick goals going when 0:13 later, Gielarowski made it 4-0, assisted by Raymore. The third was much of the same as the Indians scored three more goals in 3:09. The first goal of the third was scored with 10:28 left by Anthos, assisted by Torrey Schwartz and Michalowski to make it 5-0. With 8:01 left, it was 6-0 when Barnes scored on a goal assisted by Jake Majestic and Brett LeJeune. The final goal of the game came 0:42 later, with 7:19 left, scored by Gielarowski, assisted by Raymore, to make it the final score of 7-0. Alex Wilbert picked up the win for the Indians and booked his first shutout of the season, stopping all 27 shots he facecd, while improving his record to 3-3-1. Ryan Heil took the loss for the Tigers, stopping 14 of 18 shots faced in 41:19 of goal time. Richard Karapandi started the third period for the Tigers, saw 9:41 of goal time and stopped two of five shots faced. Peters Township improves to 12-8-2 on the season and will face the #1 seeded Central Catholic Vikings next Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. As for the Tigers, their season comes to an end with an overall record of 14-5-3.