Burrell continues scoring binge, advances to PIHL Division 2 championship

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 | 12:06 AM

Teams are aware Burrell had the most-explosive offense in PIHL Division 2.

The Buccaneers reinforced that fact Monday night as they erupted for a 6-4 win over Ringgold in a semifinal at RMU Island Sports Center.

“It's amazing,” Burrell's Logan Schoepf said. “This was a big win.”

Burrell (15-5) takes on Moon (18-1) next Monday at 5:30 p.m. for the D2 title at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. The Tigers swept both meetings during the regular season.

“It's going to be a tough game, but we'll practice and be ready for it,” Burrell's Nate Smith said. “This is probably going to be our toughest opponent, but I think we'll be ready for it.”

With 101 goals in the regular season, the third-seeded Bucs led the rest of the D2 field by nearly 20 tallies. They collected seven more in a 7-3 win over Kennedy Catholic to open the postseason. Against the second-seeded Rams (16-5), their offense needed just a few moments to get going. Smith found the back of the net 3 minutes, 18 seconds into the contest. Schoepf tallied a power-play goal 17 seconds later.

“That was unreal. It's a huge jump for us,” Schoepf said. “We kind of got them on their heels quick.”

Jared Brennan's short-handed goal gave the team a 3-0 lead after the first.

“It gave us all the momentum in the first period and helped us build the big lead that we had and kept us going the whole game,” Smith said.

Burrell's special teams remained productive in the second period. Micah Silverman and Smith both collected power-play goals in the first 6:56 to push the advantage to 5-0.

“That gave us even more confidence,” Smith said.

Ringgold, which swept both meetings during the regular season, broke the shutout on Noah Schroeder's power-play goal 8:55 into the period, but the Bucs got that back on a Tyler Stewart goal to close the frame with a 6-1 lead.

“This win is special,” Burrell coach Max Rickard said. “I thought they played really well in the first two periods. I thought we could have done a little better in the third, but I'm just glad we came out with a win.”

The Rams got goals from Anthony Vavasori, Zachary Kalinowski and Evan Eberlien in the third, but the rally fell short.

“We were really just playing the lead and getting the puck deep and driving them down,” Smith said. “No team is going to quit in the playoffs. They started to come back, but we finished out.”

Then Bucs hope their offense continues to produce against Moon.

“I think we're two completely different teams. We're more offensive-minded, and they are more defensive-minded,” Rickard said. “It could be a shootout out or a 1-0 game. They are pretty deep. It'll be a challenge, but we're looking forward to it.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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