Dominant Baldwin hockey team gearing up for playoffs
Friday, February 21, 2020 | 6:02 PM
One of the magic numbers for the Baldwin hockey team this season is “15.”
Baldwin won 15 consecutive games before suffering a disappointing 4-3 loss Feb. 10 to West Allegheny at Ice Castle Arena.
The Highlanders opened their PIHL schedule Oct. 3 with a 9-1 victory against Montour, then skated for four months without experiencing a defeat.
“West Allegheny played a great game and deserved to win,” Baldwin coach Justin Glock said. “I told our team that I thought they matched West Allegheny’s effort. However, we did not match West Allegheny’s intensity and did not execute our gameplan.
“We need to have better focus and better attention to detail during the game to be successful.”
Heading into its last regular-season game, Baldwin had clinched first place in the Varsity AA Southwest Division with a 16-1 record — ahead of West Allegheny (13-5), Montour (12-5) and South Fayette (6-11).
The Highlanders accounted for 102 goals through 17 games. The team’s goal-scoring was spread out among 19 players.
Keith Reed led the squad in points with 11 goals and 12 assists and was complemented by Dylan Belak, Justin Pollard and Don Trimbur with 20 points apiece. Belak posted a team-high 12 goals.
Other leading scorers included Trevor Belak, who led the squad in assists with 13, Robbie Aranos, Carson Kress, Jimmy Dulya, Paul Zmuda, Logan Picchi, Noah Fischer and Vinnie Episcopo.
Additional goal scorers consisted of Joey Antonio, Joey Jacobs, Zach Pender, Blake George, Nelson Buys, Lorenzo Shipley and Zach Borman.
The goaltending tandem of Tanner Cindrich and Eddie Nowicki has been near-flawless this season. Cindrich, a senior, had an 11-1 record with a 2.58 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. Nowicki, a sophomore, was 5-0 with a 0.69 GAA and .958 save percentage.
Cindrich and Nowicki are backed up by Alex Golvash and Levi McCrea, a pair of freshmen.
Glock said he is hoping the Highlanders can make a strong playoff run off their sensational regular-season performance.
“Although we’ve continued to be successful in the second half, we’ve had our ups and downs,” Glock said. “We played very well against Latrobe except for taking too many penalties. Then we’ve had games where we were not at our best and lucky enough to break away and win in third periods.
“We are searching for consistency game after game. Even when not at our best, our team has done a great job overcoming in-game adversity.”
The Highlanders outscored the opposition by a 102-35 margin through 17 games.
The forward lines have teamed up Fischer, Reed and Episcopo; Trimbur, Dylan Belak and Kress; Antonio, Pender and Dulya; and Picchi, Pollard and Jacobs. The defense is anchored by the tandems of Zmuda and Buys, Aranos and Trevor Belak, and Shipley and George.
Baldwin has played three games this month, against Quaker Valley, WA and Montour. Its regualr-season finale was set for Feb. 24 versus South Fayette.
“I do believe our schedule in February will prepare us well for the playoffs,” Glock said. “West Allegheny and Montour are two of the best teams in AA. Quaker Valley is in first place, and South Fayette is playing much better of late while getting a big win in their last game.
“The tough competition and close games will get us comfortable in likely situations in the playoffs.”
Baldwin bounced back from the stinging loss to WA with a 4-2 win Feb. 17 against Montour.
Kress recorded two goals and one assist and Trimbur added a goal and an assist. Trevor Belak also scored and Aranos was credited with an assist. Cindrich made 27 saves.
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