Peters Township tops Mt. Lebanon in double overtime to reach PIHL Class AAA Penguins Cup final

Thursday, March 14, 2019 | 11:53 PM

Special teams are always important in a hockey game, especially in the playoffs … and most especially in overtime of the PIHL Penguins Cup semifinals.

Mark Lehman’s power play goal at 10:33 of the second overtime gave Peters Township a 3-2 win over Mt. Lebanon and put the top-seeded Indians in the PIHL Class 3A title game for the third consecutive season.

Torrey Schwartz started the play by retrieving a loose puck in the left face-off circle. He fed a cross-ice pass to Jeremy Anthos in the right circle, and Anthos quickly threw the puck back left to Lehman who one-timed a shot past Blue Devils goalie Brad Weaver from the post.

“We’ve been kind of working back door passes all year on the power play,” Lehman said. “When I saw the pass go across the ice, I just slid back and opened up for the pass, and Anthos fed it to me.”

Lehman kept his thoughts simple as the puck was coming his way.

“Make contact and get it on net because I knew I had the whole net open,” he said.

Mt. Lebanon coach Gary Klapkowski was not happy with the penalty called against Branwen Pollett in the second OT.

“It is what it is,” he said, “but that’s not the reason why we lost. We had our opportunities to win, they had their opportunities to win, and that call had nothing to do with it.”

The Blue Devils (10-9) had an apparent game-winning goal waved off earlier in the second overtime. Forward Sam Falbo crashed into and was lying on top of Peters Township goaltender Alex Wilbert as teammate Jonathan Izzo shot the puck into the back of the net.

Klapkowski was unsure of what happened on that play.

“(The referee) didn’t give me a reason (it was waved off),” Klapkowski said. “He said our guy barreled in, I don’t know whether it was a good goal or not because I didn’t really see it.”

In addition to killing off a pair of Mt. Lebanon power plays, one in each overtime period, Peters Township connected on a power play at 12:15 of the second when Andrew Wilbert converted a pass from Ryan Luppe after a turnover to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.

Griffin Erdely tied the game with a power play goal for the Blue Devils at 13:23 of the third period, when his centering pass bounced off the skate of a Peters Township defenseman and past Wilbert, who finished with 29 saves.

Mt. Lebanon’s Wyatt George staked the Blue Devils to a 1-0 lead at 7:13 of the first period when he took a flip, stretch pass from defenseman Tim Adler on a set play and beat Wilbert on a breakaway for his 22nd goal of the season and third in the playoffs.

Another Wilbert also starred for Peters Township as Eric netted his first goal of the playoffs off an assist by Lehman at 1:49 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1.

Lehman’s two-point night and overtime heroics are nothing new in his household. His twin sister, Mackenzie, scored what turned out to be the game-winning layup against North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class 6A girls basketball championship game in a 43-40 overtime win that gave the Indians their first district championship. She also converted a game-tying layup to force overtime against the Tigers.

The Indians hockey forward was not surprised that the fourth-seeded Blue Devils played Peters Township tough.

“Mt. Lebanon is well coached and they know how to defend against different types of hockey teams,” Mark Lehman said. “I knew it was going to be a tough game, but I didn’t know it was going to be double-overtime tough, but that’s what you live for.”

Peters Township coach Rock Tingle is looking to capture his second title in three years. The Indians, who finished as the runner-up to Seneca Valley last season, defeated Central Catholic in 2017 to capture the team’s sixth Penguins Cup.

“I rather it be 10-0 after the first period,” Tingle said. “But anyway we get there (to the championship game) we’ll take it.”

Peters Township (16-3) will face the winner between North Allegheny and Bethel Park at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the UPMC Lemieux Complex in Cranberry Township.

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