From Sidney Crosby’s youth program to PIHL playoffs, Peacocks make Pine-Richland proud

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Sunday, March 12, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has had a major impact on many youth hockey players in Western Pennsylvania and a couple of good examples are Pine-Richland seniors Ryan and Shawn Peacock.

The Peacocks, who are twins, got their start on the ice at age 6 through Crosby’s Little Penguins Learn to Play Program, designed for youth players ages 5 to 9.

“We started with Dek hockey and then our mom decided to sign us up for the Little Pens program, where you can get free gear,” Ryan Peacock said. “We were in the draw and got lucky we were selected. Then it all just took off from there. Getting the gear was huge for us, because hockey gear is very expensive.”

Fast forward to the present and the pair are scoring big goals for the Rams.

Ryan and Shawn had a goal each to help No. 6 Pine-Richland upset No. 3 Seneca Valley, 2-1, in the PIHL Class 3A Penguins Cup quarterfinals.

The Rams were set to face No. 7 Upper St. Clair, which upset No. 2 Central Catholic, in the semifinals March 13 at RMU Island Sports Center.

Not only do the Peacocks have the ability to score goals, they also have a long memory. Going into the matchup with Seneca Valley, they used an overtime loss to the Raiders in the middle school playoffs as motivation.

“Those were the same seniors we’ve been playing since seventh grade,” Shawn said. “To end their career feels amazing. We know they wanted to do it to us, so to be able to get back at them after all these years was great.”

The Peacocks grew up skating on a small backyard rink their dad built and joked their parents had to tell them in their youth days to pass to other teammates because they would only pass to each other.

They used their teammates well to score against the Raiders.

Ryan got on the board first, scoring after a nice pass from Zach Howard, which was preceded by Jordan Spear getting the puck up the ice quickly. The goal was the reward for a dominant first period in which the Rams outshot the Raiders 12-1.

“Howard came up the right side and took a hit to make a play,” Ryan said. “The puck trickled over to me, and I just shot it at the goalie above the blocker and luckily it went in.”

Howard also figured in on Shawn’s goal in the second period. After Shawn scored, he jumped into the glass in front of a large, loud Pine-Richland student section.

“I started with the puck on the boards and I got it up to Doug (Van Meter),” Shawn said. “He cycled it down low, and I just decided to park myself in front of the net because good things happen there. Howard got it to me, and I put it through the five hole. It was amazing to score in front of out student section.”

The Rams had to withstand a late rally, but goalie Dan Mooney made four saves in the final minute and a couple more on a late penalty kill to secure the win.

Pine-Richland was in last place in November, but that’s a distant memory. The team won nine of 10 entering the postseason. It all started with being humbled prior to a game against Cathedral Prep on Dec. 5, which they went on to win 7-5.

“We were 2-7 and on the blue line before the national anthem against Erie (Cathedral Prep) and they announced our record and they started laughing,” Shawn said. “It gave us motivation from there and we never lost it.”

“We always knew we were a great team,” Ryan said. “We got off to a tough start, but we never quit and then we went on a nine-game heater. We always believed in ourselves, and we’re not surprised we’re here.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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