PIHL teams battle for playoff spots as regular season winds down
By: Michael Love
Sunday, February 11, 2018 | 3:18 PM
Several PIHL hockey teams in Division I (Class AAA, AA, A) and Division 2 have clinched Penguins Cup playoff spots and are working to position themselves in the standings for seeding purposes.
But there are other squads who still are fighting to get into their respective postseason fields.
Those battles continue Monday and progress until the end of the regular season two weeks from now.
Seven of the eight teams have qualified, leaving the final spot up for grabs between Plum, Central Catholic and Canon-McMillan.
Those three teams are tied for eighth with 10 points. The Mustangs have a game in hand on the Vikings and Big Macs, both of whom have played 16 of their 18 games.
Plum and Central Catholic will begin to sort things out Monday when the meet at 7:30 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington. Canon Mac takes on North Allegheny (fourth place, 20 points) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The top five teams from each division make the playoffs, and in the Northwest, the five qualifying teams — Armstrong, Pine-Richland, Hampton, Quaker Valley and Mars — have been determined.
The Southeast is a little more up in the air, as only Latrobe has qualified (first, 24 points). The rest of the division — Franklin Regional (21 points), Hempfield, (20 points), Upper St. Clair (20 points), Penn-Trafford (18 points), Shaler (18 points) and Baldwin (17 points) — are in contention.
All of the teams have two games left in the regular season except Hempfield (three), and things will start to sort themselves out on Monday.
Monday's schedule has Latrobe against Franklin Regional, Upper St. Clair against Penn-Trafford, Shaler against Hempfield and Baldwin against Mars (Northwest, fifth place).
With 21 teams in the division, each team plays the other 20 teams once, and it is a free-for-all to the playoffs where the top 12 will compete for the title.
Bishop McCort (first, 36 points), West Allegheny (second, 32 points), Meadville (tie-third, 30 points), Thomas Jefferson (tie-third, 30 points) and Indiana (fifth, 29 points) lead the division.
Places six through 11 are separated by four points (23 to 19), and Kiski Area sits in the 12th and final spot (18 points) with three games to play.
Deer Lakes (16 points) and Norwin (14 points) still are alive in 13th and 14th.
Wheeling Park sits between Kiski Area and Deer Lakes with 17 points, but it is not eligible for the playoffs because it is not a Pennsylvania school.
All eight teams have clinched with a couple of games left, and positioning is all that remains.
Morgantown is seventh in the standings with 13 points but is not eligible for the playoffs.
Trinity, in eighth with 11 points, has a game in hand on the other seven playoff squads. It hopes to move up the standings as it trails Central Valley (seventh, 12 points) and Kennedy Catholic (sixth, 16 points).
The top five teams currently are Moon (30 points), Burrell (24 points), Ringgold (24 points), Elizabeth Forward (21 points) and Connellsville (20 points).