Figura helps Baldwin hockey even record with overtime win

Thursday, December 21, 2017 | 10:33 PM

Baldwin's Dan Figura picked a most opportune time to score his first two goals of the season.

Figura, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior defenseman, scored twice late in the game against Pine-Richland to lift the Highlanders to a 5-4 win in overtime in a recent PIHL Class AA matchup.

Figura tied the score with his first goal at the 15-minute, 37-second mark of the third period, then won it with his second goal just 37 seconds into overtime.

“The game-tying goal was off a blocked shot and the puck came right to me on the left circle,” Figura said. “I saw some open space and just took the shot.

“The game-winning goal came from behind our net. We worked for the puck, and I got the bounce in front of my net and took it on the breakaway.”

Figura has a knack for netting crucial goals for the Highlanders. Last season, he netted the winning goal with 36.4 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Baldwin to a 5-4 win over Thomas Jefferson. It was senior rec night for the Highlanders.

The big, strapping Figura has eight assists.

“Dan would be the first one to tell you that the puck hasn't bounced his way to start the season, but he's second on our team in assists,” second-year Baldwin coach Justin Glock said. “He doesn't let stats change the way he plays. He's been an integral part of the team as a senior leader.

“The two goals he scored against Pine-Richland are the two biggest goals of this season. We were on a losing streak and needed a win badly. He had a Pine-Richland player draped all over him when he raced in on a breakaway and scored on a backhand.”

Baldwin has been led offensively this season by junior forward Ross Zofcin with five goals and 11 assists. Zofcin racked up one goal and three assists against Pine-Richland.

Freshman forward Keith Reid also had a goal and an assist against the Rams. A pair of defensemen, sophomore Paul Zmuda (one goal, one assist) and senior Easton Tamburri (one goal), rounded out the Baldwin scoring.

Zofcin, Reed and junior Andrew Golvash have been the top producing line this season.

Figura, Zmuda, Tamburri, senior Nick Antonio and junior Nathan Breisinger make up the Highlanders defensive corps.

“The team brings effort and a competitive edge every game,” Glock said. “I've really been trying to work on the team's focus. We've had focus and have looked sharp in the games that we've won. We've lacked focus and discipline in the games that we've lost.

“I have the utmost confidence if our team continues to put in the work and focus that we'll get on a roll and string some wins together.”

Junior Cole Shannon was the winning goaltender against Pine-Richland, stopping 31 of 35 shots.

Shannon has a 4-4 record, 2.45 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. He has made 184 saves and owns two shutouts.

Senior goaltender Dylan Desimone has a 1-1 record for the Highlanders, whose next PIHL game will take place Jan. 4 at home against Hempfield at Ice Castle.

Glock will be looking for more consistency from the Highlanders in the second half of the season.

“The team needs to work on making the correct play with the puck every time,” Glock said. “If our defensemen do not have an open breakout pass, then they need to be content with clearing the puck out our D-zone. If our forwards don't have an odd-man rush, then they need to dump the puck in the O-zone.

“When we've managed the puck correctly this season, we've been very difficult to play against and have been successful.”

With the dramatic win against Pine-Richland, Baldwin improved to 5-5 overall in the South/East Division. The Highlanders have scored 31 goals and allowed 31.

“We moved up into the Class AA division this year, and the competition has been great,” Figura said. “It does not matter where anyone is at in the standings. You have to come out every game and play your hardest. We have been playing very well this year. We have some young players, and they have been contributing for our team.

“We have a great shot for the playoffs, but we need to come out every game strong. We need to try and score more goals.”

Through mid-December, Franklin Regional (7-3-1) and Latrobe (7-3) were in a virtual tie for first place in the South/East, followed by Hempfield at 6-2-1. Upper St. Clair, Shaler, Baldwin and Penn-Trafford owned five victories.

“Right now, our goal is to win one period at a time and find a way to get into the playoffs,” Glock said. “We're currently sitting outside of the playoff picture. We need to string together some wins and be playing our best hockey at the end of the season so we can make the playoffs.”

Baldwin will participate in the 22nd annual Pennsylvania Hockey Scholastic Showcase from Dec. 27-30 at Alpha Ice Complex in Harmar.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.


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