Indiana, Chartiers Valley roar into Penguins Cup finals in Class A

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 | 9:58 PM

It didn’t take long for Indiana to take control Wednesday in its PIHL Class A semifinal matchup with Freeport.

The Indians peppered Freeport freshman goaltender Tyler Lang with shots from the first whistle and took a lead six minutes into the game with a goal from Tanner Agnello. They added another in the first, a third in the second and one more in the third for a 4-0 win that punched their ticket to the Class A Penguins Cup final for the second straight season.

Although Indiana won, coach Jordan Haines didn’t believe it was the Indians’ best performance of the season.

“That was not the product of the best team that we can be,” Haines said. “But, we came out, we possessed the puck and we held it. We capitalized on our opportunities, and we came away with the win.”

The Indians will play Chartiers Valley in the Class A final at 9 p.m. Monday.

Indiana (19-0) has won 24 straight games dating to last season. It was set to play Thomas Jefferson in the Class A finals last season before the coronavirus pandemic cut the Penguins Cup playoffs short.

Normally, Haines says he is a suit-and-tie guy when he’s on the bench, but after getting caught in a certain outfit for a game toward the end of the season last year, he’s been wearing it ever since. So, while he wants to finish what his team started last year, he also wouldn’t mind getting back to his preferred attire of choice.

“So, I want to win and then I want to wash these clothes at some point,” Haines said with a laugh. “But I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder, and we know that we can win a Penguin Cup.”

Over the past three years, the Yellowjackets (15-4-1) have been building something special, and this season was their best yet as they earned a share of the Northeast Division title with Kiski Area. They just ran into a strong team at RMU Island Sports Complex.

Agnello scored with 12 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first period, and Korbin Wilson added his first goal of the playoffs 11 minutes later. Orlando Clark tallied two goals and an assist as well.

“Hats off to Indiana. They played a great game tonight, and we told our guys before the game that they were going to have to match their (Indiana’s) intensity because we knew they were going to bring it,” Freeport coach Kelly Mason said. “That’s kinda it, though. We just kinda got outworked a little bit.”

Freeport tallied 24 total shots, compared to Indiana’s 33. The Yellowjackets found ways to put pressure on the Indians at times.

Keith Smilowitz and Paul Zecca had breakaways in the first period but couldn’t convert as Indiana goalie Seamus O’Connor came up big on both occasions. He finished with 24 saves.

“This team never really quits. It’s just a matter of, I mean you have to give them (his players) credit,” Mason said. “They (Indiana) only give up, on average, 17 shots on goal for the whole game, and we had more than that tonight. They were all coming from the perimeter, and from the few opportunities that we did get down low, it seemed like the net was always coming off the rings there a little bit.”

Indiana got stronger as the game progressed. They outshot the Yellowjackets by five in the second period and three in the third period.

“It was a win and we’re ready to go,” Haines said. “We’re going to go play for a Penguin Cup, and I can’t freaking wait.”

After going down by two goals in the second semifinal matchup of the night, Chartiers Valley (16-3-1) scored four unanswered goals to take down Kiski Area (15-4-1) 5-2 and earn a spot in next Monday’s Class A Penguins Cup final.

“Once we got that second goal, I had a feeling that we were going to end up having a good chance to win that game,” Chartiers Valley coach Paul Bonetti said. “We played a lot different as the game went on. I don’t think we played very strong at the beginning but we made a couple of adjustments and they seemed to work.”

Ryan Kanter scored the first goal for the Colts with under a minute left in the first period and Greg Kraemer proceeded to do the rest. The junior forward scored a hat trick in the second period to lead the Colts to victory. Kanter also scored a goal on an empty net with 21.4 seconds left in the game.

“We wanted to get the puck in deep and get on their defensemen,” Bonetti said about the changes they made. “Once we started doing that we were able to start generating chances and more importantly keep them out of our end because they are a lethal offense.”

Kiski ended up outshooting the Colts 44-32 and Chartiers Valley goaltender Logan Marnik made 42 saves in the victory.

Evan Hileman and Stephen Rayburg scored one goal apiece for Kiski Area.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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