Kiski Area blanks Greensburg Salem on opening night of PIHL playoffs

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Monday, April 5, 2021 | 10:05 PM


The Kiski Area hockey team is headed back to the PIHL Penguins Cup Class A semifinals.

For the second year in a row, the No. 2 Cavaliers will play in the final four after posting a 5-0 victory over No. 7 Greensburg Salem in a quarterfinal contest Monday at Belmont Ice Complex in Kittanning.

“We passed the puck well and worked as a team,” said senior forward Michael Rayburg, who scored three goals — one in each period — for his fourth hat trick this season.

“We kept our mistakes down, and we didn’t give them many good chances to get goals. We’re on a roll, and it feels great. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

The victory was Kiski Area’s 11th in a row. The Cavaliers’ final game before the playoffs was a 5-2 triumph over Chartiers Valley on March 18, a span of 18 days before Monday’s contest.

Kiski Area (15-3-1-0) will meet Chartiers Valley at 8:30 p.m. April 14 at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center for the right to play for the Penguins Cup title April 19.

The No. 3 Colts topped No. 6 North Hills, 3-2, Monday.

“It was nice to see how well we played together as a team,” said Kiski Area coach Mark Hastings, who saw his Cavaliers outshoot Greensburg Salem 41-22. “It’s great to see when they give that effort and work well together. We know we just have to keep getting more shots on Wednesday. They have a strong goaltender. We know he keeps them in games.”

The loss capped Greensburg Salem’s season at 10-7-0-1.

“Kiski Area played a great game,” Golden Lions coach Corey Mentch said. “As the shots show, they were the better team on the ice tonight. They have great depth, and they utilized it. Top to bottom, those three lines, they have a lot of kids who can play.

“We’re losing four guys, and they are some big character guys who mean a lot to the locker room, not just on the scoresheet. We had a lot of young guys playing valuable minutes this year. This loss stings, but it was great to get them some good experience, especially in a (playoff) game like this.”

Monday’s matchup was the first of the season between Kiski Area and Greensburg Salem.

Kiski took control early in the second period with three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 16 seconds to turn a one-goal lead into a 4-0 advantage.

The Cavaliers got a goal from Ethan George, assisted by Matthew Clinger, with 2:48 gone in the period.

Rayburg scored 1:20 later off of assists from Jonathan Ayres and Kyle Guido.

Then it was Rowan Alexander’s turn to get into the act as he found the back of the net with 10:56 left in the period on Clinger’s second helper.

“We knew we just had to keep crashing the net and put pucks on the net,” said Clinger, whose two assists gives him 12 on the season to go along with 14 goals. “Getting to those rebounds are what gets you the goals. Getting those three goals there really motivated us to keep going and finish off the game.”

The Cavaliers outshot the Golden Lions 28-11 over the first two periods, including 16-4 over the second 17 minutes.

Rayburg’s third goal came with 13:15 left in the third period to extend Kiski Area’s lead to 5-0. Nic Slomka provided the assist.

Rayburg now has a team-leading 23 goals on the season.

Kiski Area wasted little time getting on the board in the opening period as Rayburg got his first one past Greensburg Salem netminder Andrew Stead unassisted just 2:58 into the game.

In his first playoff game between the pipes, Kiski Area sophomore goaltender Evin Brice stopped all 22 shots he faced. Stead, a senior, saved 36 shots for Greensburg Salem.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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