Parreaguirre nets double-OT winner as North Allegheny edges Bethel Park in PIHL semifinals
By: Kyle Dawson
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 2:39 AM
When North Allegheny and Bethel Park meet in the PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs, at least over the last five meetings, the result has been a one-goal game.
Entering Thursday’s Class AAA semifinal, the two had played three overtime games in their last four playoff meetings.
The only other meeting resulted in a 4-3 North Allegheny win in the 2013 semifinals.
Thursday’s game was as good as the teams and fans hoped at RMU Island Sports Center, and resulted in double overtime, with the Tigers advancing to play Peters Township for the Penguins Cup.
Junior forward Will Parreaguirre’s odd-man-break tally in the second overtime secured a 2-1 victory early Friday morning.
All of it happened hours after Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon went to double overtime in an earlier semifinal.
“It was difficult,” said North Allegheny coach Mike Bagnato, who sent his team in and out of the locker room several times prior to the start of the semifinal. “They were here early but had good focus. They handled it very well just like they have everything all year. It’s a great group of kids.”
North Allegheny got the first goal of the game at 6:11 in the first period when Tyler Putnam scored. Bethel Park tied the game at 14:42 on a 5-on-3 opportunity and goal for Austin Read.
Bagnato continued saying Bethel Park is a frustrating team to play against, but did mention his team got more shots on goal than they had the previous two meetings with the Black Hawks.
“Will missed most of the first half of our season after missing a lot of time last year because of surgery,” Bagnato said. “He’s been working hard, and when he’s playing, he’s one of our top guys.”
Parreaguirre said once he saw one of the defensemen pinch for Bethel Park, and saw the bouncing puck, he knew what he had to do.
“I kind of just picked it up and when I saw the D go down, I knew I had to go high, so I looked off the goalie and went top shelf,” Parreaguirre said. “I think our defense really bailed us out in one situation, and Richie played really well. Without them, we wouldn’t be a team.”
The 2-1 victory featured 53 saves from North Allegheny’s goalie, senior Richie Karapandi, as well as stellar defensive play in front of him.
“We got a great group of seniors and all of defensemen were awesome tonight,” Bagnato said. “(Tyler) Duderstadt and Justin (Symons) always come ready to play and the others do too, but I thought (Luke) Turkovich played really well. The last few games, he’s been unbelievable.
“If we give Richie a chance to see the puck, he’s going to stop it.”
Karapandi echoed his coach’s sentiments on how well the defense played, but did say he was getting more tired the longer the game went on.
“I was just trying to stay in it,” Karapandi said. “We played a great all-around game and worked hard enough to get that last goal. I couldn’t be more excited for the chance to play for a championship. We’ve worked so hard all year.”
Longtime Bethel Park coach Jim McVay gave a lot of credit to North Allegheny after the game ended, but said he thought his team played extremely well and outplayed the Tigers for a good part of the semifinal contest.
“I’m so proud of our guys. Our team gave everything they had,” McVay said. “It doesn’t result in a win every time you do that, unfortunately. Their goalie won them the game.”
The season is over for the Black Hawks, who will graduate 11 seniors, according to McVay, including their captain Vinny Vittucio and standout JC Bele.
“They worked their butts off,” McVay said. “Vinny has been the heart and soul of our team, and obviously JC is one of the best players to ever play in the PIHL. The other nine are all great kids too.”
The other nine include Adam Slater, Connor Price, Nick Guimond, who made 29 saves in the loss, Garrett Legg, George Tomko, Read, Christopher Toth, Thomas Worcester and Luke Schreiner.
“I don’t want to leave any of them out,” McVay said. “I’ll say it again. They worked their butts off.”
Next up for the Tigers is a third matchup this season with Peters Township. They split two regular-season meetings.
The rubber match will be for the Penguins Cup championship at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
“Rick (Tingle, Peters’ coach) and I have a good little rivalry. We play good games, and I think it will be exciting,” Bagnato said. “I think we match up very well with Peters.”
Both Karapandi and Parreaguirre said the biggest key will be the Tigers outworking Peters Township.
“We have to get the puck deep and make simple plays,” Parreaguirre said.
‘They have a lot of really good players. We have to keep playing our own game and outwork them,” Karapandi added.
A live video stream of the game will be available at tribhssn.triblive.com.