Norwin carries momentum into Penguins Cup playoffs

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022 | 10:01 AM


The word “monumental” was used to describe this hockey win.

Norwin trailed undefeated Fox Chapel, 5-3, with three minutes to play — the Knights were down most of the night — but found a spark as the clock dripped away Feb. 24 at Alpha Ice Complex.

A pair of short-handed goals from senior Logan Fear and sophomore Mario Cavallaro at 14 minutes, 42 seconds and 15:27 of the final period forced overtime, and sophomore Alex Thomas delivered the winner at the 14:12 mark of extra time for a 6-5 win.

Norwin (14-4) hopes to use the momentum — and a Class A Southeast Division title — for a postseason run.

“Strong offense and improved team defensive play since the start of the season makes us a threat,” Thomas said. “Improved goaltending makes us a viable threat to win the Penguins Cup.”

The fourth-seeded Knights open the PIHL Penguin Cup playoffs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 5 Westmont Hilltop at Palmer Imaging Arena in Delmont.

Fox Chapel (19-1) is the No. 1 seed.

“Scoring those two shorthanded goals to tie it truly showed the determination and resiliency of our team,” Norwin coach Michael Robinson said. “We knew we had the momentum going into OT. Winning it on the first shift of OT, 10 seconds in, just amplified the guys’ excitement. Moving forward from that game, our team knows that we can compete against any team in the league on any given night.”

Robinson said earlier in the season his team had the makeup of a playoff contender.

“I’m not surprised at all. We knew this summer that we had a very good team with a lot of depth and offensive ability,” he said. “At our team meeting this summer, we discussed the goals we had for the season, and we have achieved the first one by taking the division and making it to the playoffs.

“Our final goal is a Pens Cup victory and a trip to states. Our eyes are on our first playoff game against a very good Westmont Hilltop team who has arguably one of the best goaltenders in PIHL (Ian Amaranto).”

Playing a fast game with a strong forecheck and a number of scoring options, Norwin has the second-most goals in Class A (125) behind Fox Chapel (128).

Three Knights players are among the top 15 scorers in the classification: Ty Shigo (17 goals, 21 assists, 38 points), Thomas (21-14-35) and Fear (19-15-34).

Sophomore goalkeeper Owen Burmeister is third in Class A in wins (14) and has stopped 430 shots.

“What has impressed me the most about our team is the leadership and maturity that these kids have at such young ages,” Robinson said.

“These kids are leading this team just as much as our coaching staff. It works really well. Our guys know that they have a say in decisions that are made for the team.”

Senior Jake Meier has 11 goals and 18 assists.

The seniors have done their job, as expected, but the younger players have meshed well as they begin to shape the program’s future.

“All of our underclassmen have played well for us all season and helped us get to where we are right now,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the Knights need to keep wearing teams down by cycling the puck and using their speed.

“Our special teams must continue to convert as it has,” he said. “We need to play well in our defensive zone and our goaltending needs to be strong.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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