A-K Valley hockey teams gearing up for stretch run of PIHL season

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 | 6:33 PM

With the PIHL regular season a little more than half complete, teams in playoff contention, including those from the A-K Valley, are beginning to look at the postseason and what they will need to do over the next two months to secure their place.

Class AAA (Plum) will take the top eight of 10 teams, while the top five teams in each of the two AA conferences will make the postseason.

In Class A, the biggest PIHL division with 21 teams, including Deer Lakes, Fox Chapel, Freeport and Kiski Area, the top 12 teams from the one conference will qualify for the playoffs.

Burrell is the lone team from the A-K Valley in PIHL Division 2, which will have eight of its 10 teams qualify.

Plum, new to Class AAA this season, has found it tough sledding so far with a 2-8 record (four points) through 10 of its 18 games. But the Mustangs are only four points out of the final playoff spot currently held by Canon-McMillan.

Deer Lakes and Kiski Area, both 6-5 with 12 points in Class A, are tied with Norwin (6-6) for the final three playoff spots. Each team in Class A plays 20 regular-season games.

Fox Chapel (5-6-1, 11 points) is knocking on the door in the playoff race, and Freeport (2-10, four points) has a little bit more work to do down the stretch.

The Yellowjackets need to leapfrog five teams in the standings.

Burrell is 8-4 and tied for second place in Division 2 with Ringgold (8-2) at 16 points, but the Rams have two games in hand. Both are looking up at Moon (11-1, 22 points) in the division.

Games resume Jan. 2. Plum will take on Peters Township at 7 p.m. the Iceoplex at Southpointe. Peters, leading the way in AAA, has nine victories and one shootout loss in 10 games this season.

Also in action Jan. 2 is Kiski Area against Bishop McCort at 8:40 p.m. at the Cambria County War Memorial. McCort is 11-0 in Class A and tied for first with 11-0 Meadville.

Taking to the ice Jan. 4 is Freeport against Sewickley Academy (7-3, 14 points) at 7 p.m. at the Belmont Ice Complex.

Deer Lakes returns to action Jan. 8 at 7:10 p.m. against Sewickley Academy at Ice Connection in Valencia, while Fox Chapel resumes its slate at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 against Greensburg Catholic (1-9-1, three points) at Alpha in Harmarville.

Burrell is off until Jan. 15 when it will face Kennedy Catholic (4-5-1, nine points) at 9 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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