PIHL notebook: A closer look at teams on winning streaks
By: Sean Meyers
Monday, January 29, 2018 | 4:04 PM
With the PIHL All-Star games in the rear-view mirror, the final month of the regular season has arrived. While dozens of worthy individuals were honored in the Sunday extravaganza at RMU's Island Sports Complex, the focus shifts to team success.
Melting the ice
Here's a look at teams with the longest winning streaks in each class:
Class AAA: Peters Township, Butler and Plum (two games). Peters Township tops the Class AAA standings with 23 points in 13 games, including back-to-back wins against rival Canon-McMillan and Seneca Valley. On Tuesday, the Indians host Cathedral Prep. Butler has 15 points in 15 games, which is good for sixth in the 10-team classification. The Golden Tornado knocked off North Allegheny and Bethel Park in consecutive weeks, and play Central Catholic on Monday. Plum has struggled for most of the season while transitioning to the highest classification, but the Mustangs are arguably playing their best hockey. With eight points, Plum is tied with Central Catholic and Canon-McMillan for the final playoff spot. The Mustangs' consecutive wins came against Butler and Mt. Lebanon, but a daunting road game against North Allegheny is Monday.
Class AA: Pine-Richland (three games). The Rams are playing their best hockey of the season, and as a result, they have ascended to second place in the North/West Division behind Armstrong. During their recent surge, the Rams defeated Quaker Valley (5-3), Montour (10-0) and Hampton (7-4). Pine-Richland is plus-21 in goal differential and returns to the ice against North Hills on Monday.
Class A: Bishop McCort (16 games). It appeared Bishop McCort and Meadville would be unbeaten for a Feb. 6 game, but Meadville's loss to South Fayette last week put an end to that possibility. The Crimson Crushers kept their streak intact, however, as they pummeled Sewickley Academy, 11-4. Prior to that, Bishop McCort played in four consecutive tightly contested games. The Crimson Crushers will be heavily favored in their next tilt against struggling Greensburg Central Catholic on Thursday.
Division 2: Moon, Burrell and Connellsville (two games). Just like in Class AAA, teams in Division 2 have been unable to string together wins. Unlike the highest classification, however, the three teams with consecutive wins are all near the top of the standings. Moon paces the division with 26 points. Burrell is tied for second with 20 points, and Connellsville is in fourth place with 18 points. The Tigers displayed suffocating defense in their two victories, edging Elizabeth Forward, 2-1, and Ringgold, 2-0. Moon plays at Kennedy Catholic on Tuesday. Burrell has been prolific on offense for most of the season, but narrowly beat Kennedy Catholic, 4-2, and Elizabeth Forward, 4-3 in its past two contests. The Bucs are back on the ice Monday, when they host Trinity. Connellsville's consecutive victories came against Trinity, 4-1, and Morgantown, 4-3. The Falcons travel to play last-place Carrick on Monday.
Indiana — The Little Indians have been an elite program in recent years, winning an Open Division championship in 2015, and making it to the Penguins Cup last year. This season has been more of the same, as Indiana is among the top teams in Class A. Through its first 15 games, Indiana has compiled a 12-3-0-0 record, and the Indians' 24 points are tied for fourth with Thomas Jefferson.
With 83 goals scored, Indiana ranks among the top offenses in the classification. Six players have scored at least 14 points. Tyler Barker leads the team with 35 points, including 20 goals, which is tied for seventh in Class A. Edward Williams paces Indiana in assists with 17 and ranks second in points (24). Other top scorers for the Indians include Zachary Eisenhower (21 points), Daniel Williams (20), Luke Wachob (15) and Garrison Sharp (14).
Additionally, Madison Barker has been steady in net this season. Barker has a record of 10-3, with a goals against average of 3.06 and a save percentage of .871. Backup Corbin Murdick has been used sparingly, appearing in two games, both wins.
Guided by coach Jordan Haines, Indiana will look to gain momentum heading into the postseason. In their final five regular-season games, the Indians play at Wheeling Catholic, South Park and South Fayette, and host Sewickley Academy and Kiski Area at S&T Bank Arena.
On the air
Tune in to the PIHL Power Play Show on the TribLive High School Sports Network at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Hosts Josh Rowntree and Kevin Zielmanski will interview top coaches and players, as well as discuss the hot topics around the PIHL.
Sean Meyers is a freelance writer.