Armstrong's offense is tough for any team to stop — especially when the River Hawks have an extra skater on the ice.
Armstrong used a trio of power-play goals to cruise past Quaker Valley, 5-0, in the PIHL Penguins Cup Class AA title game Tuesday night at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
“This felt amazing,” Armstrong's Gio Romeo said. “Everybody on this team played for everybody back home and for everybody who believed in us and supported us the whole way.”
It's the first championship for Armstrong's current program, which began with the merger of the Ford City and Kittanning hockey programs in 2013-14. Armstrong Central, a former consolidation between the schools, won a Penguins Cup Class 3A title in 1991.
“It means everything,” Armstrong's Easton Hooks said. “It's what everybody in Armstrong and all of hockey dreams about since they start playing.”
Armstrong (19-3) meets Flyers Cup champion Downingtown East for the state championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Quad Line Ice Rinks in West Chester.
“One more game left, and it is going to be one awesome ride,” Romeo said.
The top-seeded River Hawks scored a classification-best 121 goals in the regular season and outscored their first two playoff opponents 19-6. After a slow first period, Armstrong started its offensive onslaught with its special teams.
“Whenever we get an opportunity, we have to take it,” Hooks said.
Ethan Prugh netted the first goal on the power play 5 minutes, 29 seconds into the period. His blast from the far circle sailed into the net.
On the power play again, Romeo pushed the lead to 2-0 with 6:13 remaining. A rebound popped to Romeo along the far post and he slid it in for the goal, his fifth in two playoff games. He had five goals all regular season.
“The power play helped us open up, relax and take some true chances on net,” Romeo said.
Armstrong added to its advantage when Hooks slapped a one-timer from the slot into the net with 4:31 left in the second.
Hooks netted his second goal with 5:39 remaining to boost the lead to 4-0. Jesse Toy scored on a two-man advantage 1:34 later.
Goaltender Ryan Bowser stopped all 25 shots he faced to earn the victory.