Montour edges Thomas Jefferson in overtime in PIHL Class A semifinals

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 | 1:30 AM

In the end, top-seeded Montour was just too powerful for Thomas Jefferson.

Spartans sophomore Anthony Migliozzi poked home a rebound 2 minutes, 44 seconds into overtime as Montour edged Thomas Jefferson, 6-5, in a PIHL Penguins Cup Class A thriller Tuesday night at RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.

The winning tally came on a power play for Montour. The Spartans were a perfect 4 for 4 with the man advantage.

“The power play was good,” Montour coach Clayton Shell said. “We worked a lot on that. Last week, we worked with Peters Township and took turns working on our special teams.”

Thomas Jefferson opened the scoring in the first period when Hunter Fairman stole the puck, fed Riley Holzer who whipped a shot from the right faceoff circle past Montour goaltender Zach O’Malley just inside the far post.

Montour tied it before the opening period ended when Mike Felsing came out of the penalty box, took a clearing pass in on goal and fed Migliozzi with a pass on the door step for a tap in goal to tie the game 1-1.

Both teams scored twice in the second period, with Dustin Geregach and Ryan Eisel scoring power-play goals for the Spartans, and Hayden Hintemeyer and Johnny Rimsky countered for the Jaguars.

TJ appeared to take control in the first half of the third period when Rimsky scored on a breakaway at 3:47, followed four minutes later by a John Piscitelli goal from the center-point to make it 5-3 Jaguars.

“We don’t quit,” Shell said of falling behind by two goals midway through the third period. “We preach every day at practice, one shift at a time, one period at a time, one game at a time. We were down 5-3, and I didn’t even feel on the bench there was any kind of letdown.”

The comeback started for the Spartans when a tripping penalty put Montour back on the power play.

Defenseman Ethan Diffendal powered a slap shot from the right point between the pads of Thomas Jefferson goaltender Luciano Ripepi to make it 5-4.

Then, with 3:40 left in regulation, the Spartans came in on a 2-on-1 break with Eisel beating Ripepi short side for his second goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.

A slashing penalty two minutes into overtime set up a power play for Montour that led to the game-winner.

Eisel fed Diffendal at center point, and his blast hit off Ripepi and trickled off the post before Migliozzi shoved the loose puck into the open net to send Montour to the Class A finals.

“The feeling was relief,” Migliozzi said. ”It felt great to finally score. This whole Montour organization had their hearts broken in this round two years ago, so it was like, I had to do it.”

Montour lost to Indiana, 5-4, in the 2017 semifinals. Now, the Spartans (20-1) are one win from the school’s first Penguins Cup championship.

“We got to work, we got to play hard, have good practices,” Migliozzi said, “and it will all pay off in the end.”

Montour will face South Fayette in the PIHL Class A Penguins Cup final at 6 p.m. March 19 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

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