Penn-Trafford sophomore makes history with OT winner in 1st PIHL girls championship game

Saturday, June 11, 2022 | 9:14 PM

Kylie McKenzie found the puck and some open ice.

Then she made history.

With an open lane from the blue line in, McKenzie skated in and slipped a shot on goal that just went over the goal line for the winning goal in overtime in a 2-1 victory for Team East over Team Central in the inaugural PIHL girls league championship game Saturday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.

McKenzie’s goal came just under five minutes into overtime, and the entire team greeted her at center ice for a celebration.

“It felt amazing,” said McKenzie, who is a rising sophomore at Penn-Trafford. “I felt like there was a lot of pressure there, so it was just amazing to watch it go in.”

The win capped an impressive run through the playoffs for East (8-5). They finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak and won all three playoff games, including a 5-4 victory in three overtimes over previously unbeaten Team West on Wednesday in the semifinals.

“When you have girls coming in from all over, it takes time for them to find the right chemistry,” East coach Jon Yackmack said. “They started playing well and just kept continuing on. We have a netminder that can make some big saves and girls that score opportune goals.”

East has girls from Armstrong, Westmont Hilltop, Burrell, Windber, Latrobe, Serra Catholic, West Shamokin, Hempfield, Norwin, Penn-Trafford and Elizabeth Forward. The Central roster is made up of girls from Hampton, Baldwin, Avonworth, Pine-Richland, North Hills, Thomas Jefferson and Bentworth.

Every player had a shoulder patch with her school’s logo on her jersey.

Prior to the overtime winner, Central tied the score on a goal by Delaney Howard (Thomas Jefferson) that was assisted by Sophia Scatena (Pine-Richland).

“I knew we’d get it to overtime,” Central coach Joe Cummings said. “The girls I have on my team don’t quit. They keep going and going. The same thing happened in the semifinal. We came from behind, forced overtime and ended up winning that game. Unfortunately lightning only struck once for us. But I’m proud of all the girls.”

After a scoreless first period, Emmery Taylor (Armstrong) opened the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the second. Taylor ripped a heavy slap shot from just inside the blue line that hit off the crossbar and went into the net. Kira Florek (Latrobe) assisted on the goal.

“I didn’t think I had a chance to get in closer and get an open shot, but I knew I had a good slap shot, so I just wound up and took one,” Taylor said. “I went in bar down, which felt great.”

Central pushed for the tying goal in the back half of the third period but was denied repeatedly by East goalie Corinne Brunetto (Latrobe).

Brunetto stopped Howard with a glove save, Brooklyn Joyce (Thomas Jefferson) on a point-blank opportunity and Scatena on a screened shot before Central finally broke through.

She ended up with 23 saves, following up a 76-save performance in the triple-overtime win over West.

“Last game was difficult because I was getting tired, but I knew I had to just push through and my teammates would get one,” Brunetto said. “There were less shots today, but their top line was really good, so we had to step up on them. Letting in one at the end of the third was tough, but I knew my teammates would get it back.”

Central goalie Braidee Blackburn (Bentworth) was also strong, making 14 saves. Blackburn stopped McKenzie on a breakaway in the third prior to the tying goal.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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