PIHL notebook: Key matchups remain in Class AA
By: Sean Meyers
Sunday, February 11, 2018 | 7:15 PM
Two weeks remain in the PIHL regular season, but for teams competing for a playoff spot, it might feel like the postseason already arrived. Some teams streaking toward the finish line, and three crucial Class AA games remain.
Melting the ice
Class AAA: Butler and Cathedral Prep (three-game win streaks) — Butler was idle last week. The Ramblers secured a 3-1 victory against North Allegheny last Monday for their third win in a row. Cathedral Prep defeated Peters Township 5-2, and Canon-McMillan, 7-4, during its win streak. The sixth-place Golden Tornado have a game in hand on the teams directly above and below them in the standings. Cathedral Prep is a point behind second-place Seneca Valley. Butler returns to the ice Monday, hosting first-place Peters Township, and Cathedral Prep welcomes Bethel Park to Erie on Tuesday.
Class AA: Mars (three-game win streak) — Although Armstrong has been the top team in Class AA this season, the classification has tremendous depth. Twelve of the 14 teams have won at least eight games. The Planets defeated Montour, 6-0, last week. They also beat Armstrong and Quaker Valley during the streak. Mars has solidified its playoff spot with 19 points in the North/West Division. The Planets travel to play Baldwin, which desperately needs a win for its playoff hopes, on Monday.
Class A: Bishop McCort (18-game win streak) — There's little doubt that Bishop McCort is the top team in the classification after a 7-3 win against Meadville last week. The victory also clinched the top seed for Bishop McCort. The Crimson Crushers have two games remaining in their pursuit of an unbeaten regular season.
Division 2: Moon and Burrell (four-game win streaks) — Moon has been the division's frontrunner all season, and the Tigers already clinched the top seed. Moon's past four victories came against Elizabeth Forward, Ringgold, Kennedy Catholic and Central Valley. The Tigers are back on the ice on Monday at home against Elizabeth Forward. Burrell is tied for second in the classification and has the top offense by a wide margin. In their most recent victory, though, it was the defense that keyed a 3-1 win against Connellsville. Burrell is back on the ice to host Morgantown on Monday.
Slapshots on Slate
Latrobe vs Franklin Regional at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Center Ice Arena in Delmont — It's a matchup between the top two teams in the Class AA South/East Division. Latrobe, which has won four of their past five games, has 24 points. The Panthers have recently sputtered, but still have 21 points and a chance at first place if they win out. The first meeting was determined by a shootout, as Latrobe prevailed, 6-5.
Penn-Trafford vs Upper St. Clair at 7 p.m. Monday at Ice Castle in Castle Shannon — Another South/East Division battle with playoff implications. Upper St. Clair's 20 points are tied with Hempfield for third, and Penn-Trafford is two points behind. The Warriors are tied for fifth place with Shaler, and with only five teams heading to the playoffs, the game takes on a playoff-like importance. The first meeting between the teams in December went to a shootout, and the Warriors notched a 5-4 win.
Hempfield vs Pine-Richland at 9 p.m. Thursday at Baierl Ice Complex in Warrendale — The Spartans, also from the South/East Division, aim to solidify their playoff spot. Pine-Richland, which already clinched in the North/West Division, tries to maintain its hold on second place. This is the only meeting between the teams this regular season, although with the playoff format using cross-division matchups, it could be a first-round preview.
Remember to tune in to the PIHL Power Play Show on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on TribHSSN.TribLive.com. Hosts Josh Rowntree and Sean Meyers interview players and coaches and highlight key storylines from around the league.
Sean Meyers is a freelance writer.