PIHL notebook: Mt. Lebanon, Armstrong look to maintain winning streaks

Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 11:55 PM

After a well-deserved holiday break, many PIHL teams returned to the rink last week to resume their schedule, while other teams are back in action this week. Consequently, teams that performed well in the first half are looking to solidify their playoff spots, while the squads that struggled in the first three months have a chance to make a second-half surge in the standings.

Melting the ice

Here’s a look at the longest winning streaks in each classification.

Class AAA: Mt. Lebanon (4 games) — The Blue Devils’ surge wasn’t slowed by the holiday break, as Mt. Lebanon notched a 6-4 victory against Bethel Park on Thursday. Prior to that triumph, the Blue Devils won three straight contests all by one goal, edging Butler, North Allegheny and Cathedral Prep, with the latter two teams still ahead of them in the standings. Mt. Lebanon’s 13 points are good for the fifth spot in Class AAA. The Blue Devils are back on the ice Monday, when they host the Ramblers.

Class AA: Armstrong (9 games) — The River Hawks have yet to play since the PIHL resumed after the break, so they still hold the top spot in the classification. Armstrong’s lone setback came in the season opener Oct. 12, a 9-4 defeat to Upper St. Clair. Since then, the River Hawks have won nine straight, with one of the victories coming in overtime, and another courtesy of the shootout. Armstrong’s 18 points also are the best mark in Class AA, one ahead of Franklin Regional. The River Hawks return to action Thursday, when they host Mars.

Class A: Bishop McCort and Meadville (12 games) — The Crimson Crushers and the Bulldogs have been atop the standings all season, as neither team has tasted defeat. Despite their dominance, both squads faced quality tests last week. Bishop McCort needed a pair of third-period goals to edge Kiski Area, 3-2, while Meadville secured a 5-2 win against Wheeling Catholic. Bishop McCort returns to action Monday, traveling to Thomas Jefferson, while Meadville is idle this week.

Division 2: Elizabeth Forward (3 games) — The Warriors’ streak isn’t a long one, but it’s still the top mark in the class. Elizabeth Forward, currently in fifth with 13 points, prevailed against Trinity, Kennedy Catholic and Carrick in the past three games. The victory against the Hillers on Thursday was a 3-2 overtime decision. The Warriors are back on the ice Tuesday, as they travel to Connellsville.

Slapshots on slate

Here’s a look at upcoming TribLive High School Sports Network video broadcasts:

Monday — Pine-Richland vs Quaker Valley at 7 p.m. and Seneca Valley vs North Allegheny at 9 p.m., both at the Baierl Ice Center in Warrendale, with Bob Orkwis and Sean Meyers on commentary and Chris Lackner filming.

The Quakers and Rams are both in good position to make the Class AA postseason, as Quaker Valley has 16 points, while Pine-Richland has 13 points. The Quakers, who are second in the North/West Division, have been fueled by a potent offense. Quaker Valley’s 58 goals are tied for second best in all of Class AA. The Rams pack a punch, too, as Pine-Richland has produced 54 goals. To that point, the teams engaged in a high-scoring affair in their first encounter, a 7-5 Quakers’ win on Oct. 19. In that game, Ben Kuzma and Beau Tomczak each scored twice for Quaker Valley, while Nicholas Lindauer netted a pair of goals for the Rams.

In the nightcap, a low-scoring affair is likely, as the Tigers and Raiders boast suffocating defenses and sputtering offenses. North Allegheny has allowed 25 goals, the third-best mark in Class AAA, while Seneca Valley leads the classification with just 17 goals allowed in 10 games.

Conversely, North Allegheny has netted 34 goals, while Seneca Valley has produced just 26, third lowest in Class AAA. The Tigers and Raiders are tied in the standings with 15 points, good for third in the classification. This marks the first of two meetings between the teams, which also will square off Feb. 22 in their regular-season finales.

Also, tune in to the PIHL Power Play Show at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the TribLive High School Sports Network. This week, Josh Rowntree and Sean Meyers will talk to some of the top coaches and players in the area, as well as discuss the landscape of each classification.

Sean Meyers is a freelance writer.

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