Penguins Cup Playoffs Recaps From Wednesday 3/9

Thursday, March 10, 2016 | 12:41 AM

On the final night of the Final Four in the high school hockey playoffs, both games came down to the wire in a pair of one-goal contests at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Complex on Neville Island on Wednesday. In the end, top-seed North Allegheny and 2015 Class AA champion Erie Cathedral Prep proved the Northern Lights shine brightest as they eeked out wins to move on to the finals next week. Here are summaries from both PIHL Pneguins Cup Class AAA Semifinals.

A special thanks to Randy Gore and Bob Orkwis for their help on these recaps.


North Allegheny Tigers 4 – Peters Township Indians 3 
The top-seeded North Allegheny Tigers won their second straight overtime thriller in the postseason and beat the Peters Township Indians, 4-3, in the PIHL semifinals on Wednesday night at the RMU Sports Center.  Junior defenseman Cameron Zahn scored the game winner at the 5:03 mark of overtime to send the Tigers to the PIHL championship game for the second time in the last four years.  While the Tigers won the game, it was Peters Township who dominated the action in the first period. The Indians netted the first goal of the game on a two-on-none breakaway as Matt Amelio beat NA goalie Joe Hubert for a 1-0 lead with 8:36 remaining in the period. Even though the Indians controlled the pace in the opening stanza, the Tigers stole away any momentum gained by PT with a late goal and tied the game at 1-1 on a marker by Joe Zappia with just one second left in the period.  North Allegheny cashed in on a power play in the second period and grabbed a 2-1 lead when John Parks squeezed a shot past Peters Township goalie Caden Shell with 11:07 on the clock. The seesaw nature of the game continued in the third period as Peters Township tied the game on a Will Barnes goal, and took a 3-2 lead on a Ross Opeka marker with 8:42 remaining in regulation.  Trailing by a goal with 6:31 to play, NA’s Matthew Heil was called for a roughing penalty and Peters Township was on the power play with a chance to put the game away. The Tigers killed that penalty and scored the equalizer shortly after. NA junior Erik Chidester dug the puck out of the left corner and passed to an open Dawson Richard in front who tied the game at 3-3 with 4:11 remaining.  The game stayed deadlocked until Zahn’s slap shot won it for the Tigers in overtime, 4-3. The Zahn slapper trickled through goalie Caden Shell and teetered on the goal line. Sprawling in an attempt to make the save, Shell incidentally pushed the puck into the net and North Allegheny claimed the OT win. Both goalies played well and faced a bevy of shots. Shell stopped 32 shots and NA’s Joe Hubert made 42 saves in a tremendous effort.  North Allegheny advances to the PIHL championship game to face Erie Cathedral Prep on Tuesday night at the Mario Lemieux Sports Complex at 8:30 pm.

Erie Cathedral Prep Ramblers 2 – Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings 1 
Joe Kelly’s second goal of the game (1:28) into the third period proved to be the game-winner as Erie Cathedral Prep defeated Pittsburgh Central Catholic 2-1 at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Complex earning their 4th trip to the PIHL Penguins Cup Finals in the last 5 years. Kelly snapped a strong wrist shot past Vikings goaltender Nate Cava the high slot to net his second game-winning goal in as many playoff games for the Ramblers. Kelly also scored the game’s first goal when he deposited a pass from Joe Sala behind Cava at the (7:41) mark of the first period. ECP held that lead until late in the second period. The Vikings, who just killed off a 5-on-3 Ramblers power play, tied the game with less than two minutes remaining the middle period. Defenseman Easton Alger took the puck off the boards and skated down the right wing. The senior then threw a beautiful cross ice feed to Ryan Haag who one-timed the shot over Erie Cathedral’s Jacob Kucharski to tie the game at 1-1. Kucharski made 28 saves to pick up his second playoff win for the Ramblers. Cava stopped 41-of-43 shots in a losing effort for the second seeded Vikings. Erie Cathedral Prep, the third seed in the PIHL Penguins Cup Class AAA Playoff Tournament, will look to capture its second consecutive Penguins Cup Title, after winning the Class AA Championship last season. The Ramblers, who have won 3 Penguins Cup Championships overall, were runners-up in Class AA in 2012 and 2014 before winning the Cup last season. Erie Cathedral Prep will face top seeded North Allegheny next Tuesday in the AAA finals. The Ramblers defeated the Tigers twice during the regular season by scores of 7-1 and 6-1. The PIHL Class AAA Championship is set for an 8:30 face-off on March 15th and you can hear all of the action from the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry right here on the MSA Sports Network.

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