PIHL Penguins Cup Playoff Recaps for Monday, March 2nd

Monday, March 2, 2015 | 11:56 PM

The curtain rose on the 2015 PIHL Penguins Cup Playoffs on Monday, and while there were some one-sided openers, there were several down to the wire thrillers that made you realize the regular season was history and the chase for the cup was now on. Here are summaries from the seven games that got the puck rolling on the 2015 PIHL Penguins Cup Playoffs.

A special thanks to Don Rebel, Sean Meyers, Randy Gore, Brandon Showers, Lou Rood and Matt Vandriak for their help on these recaps.


North Allegheny Tigers 7 – Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings 0 
North Allegheny and Central Catholic played a pair of tight games in the regular season, but in the opening round of the PIHL playoffs on Monday night, the top-seeded Tigers left little doubt to the outcome in a 7-0 triumph over the Vikings. Sophomore Erik Chidester notched a natural hat trick to begin the game and the rout was on. Chidester’s third goal, a power play tally at the 3:32 mark of the second period, was the first of three goals the Tigers scored in a 33 second span.  Dominick Zangaro and Nathan Taylor followed with goals to give North Allegheny a 5-0 lead with 12:55 remaining in the period.  Joe Zappia added another goal in the second period and Taylor rounded out the scoring with a third period marker to bring the final score to 7-0, Tigers. NA goalie Joe Hubert made 21 saves for the shutout. Central Catholic goalie Nate Cava stopped 36 of 43 shots on the night. North Allegheny advances to the PIHL Class AAA semifinals on March 10.  The Tigers will play the winner of the Seneca Valley-Canon McMillan game on Tuesday night.


Latrobe Wildcats 4 – West Allegheny Indians 3 in Overtime 
Brendan Johns’ overtime goal on the powerplay catapulted the Greater Latrobe IceCats into the quarterfinals, as they edged West Allegheny 4-3 in Class AA first-round play at Blade Runners in Harmarville. Johns, who led the IceCats in goals during the season, crashed the net on a wild scramble in front of the Indians’ goal, and slammed home a loose puck 4:46 into the overtime period. Prior to the overtime frame, the contest was a back-and-forth affair that prominently featured special teams. Greater Latrobe (11-8-1) gained the lead on a shorthanded goal by Jacob Halula in the first period, but a powerplay tally by West Allegheny’s Brendan Rossi in the second period deadlocked the contest. Less than one minute later, the Indians (7-11-2) surged ahead on a sharp-angle goal by Anthony Vidmar. Although the Indians controlled the play for most of the second period, the IceCats scored the equalizer late in the frame, as Cameron Carr deflected a shot past Indians’ netminder Anthony Dominick on the man advantage. Halula tickled the twine again early in the third on a one-timer from Johns to put Greater Latrobe ahead, but Bailey Foy scored on a wrister less than four minutes into the third to again even the score. Timothy Ruppen earned the victory in net for the IceCats, making 15 saves. With the triumph, Greater Latrobe will travel to face Cathedral Prep, the No. 1 seed from the Western Conference. That quarterfinals game will be played at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 at the Erie Insurance Arena.

North Hills Indians 7 – Fox Chapel Foxes 2 
In a game that, on paper, seemed like it would be a high scoring affair started out slow. North Hills and Fox Chapel combined for one goal and 13 shots on goal in the 1st period. The lone goal was for the Indians and came about 10 minutes in, when Tony Peligrino netted a shot behind Foc Chapel goalie Chad Veltri, assisted by Jorday Gayso and Jeremiah Polaski. But then the flood gates were opened and, in the 2nd  period, it seemed like it could be a close game. Fox Chapel evened the game at 1-1 on a Ben Friedland goal at the 9:11 mark on a pass from Chase Vellani. Then, just 36 seconds later, Tyler Volz would put the Indians up by a goal at 2-1. But, a little over a minute later, Freidland got his second goal, knotting the game at 2-2. Just four and a half minutes later, North Hills’ Gannon Warrick would score a powerplay goal, putting the Indians up at the break, 3-2. But the North Hills rout began from there. North Hills scored four third period goals, with two from leading scorer Brett Berner at the 51 second mark and 6:28 mark. The 6:28 mark goal was the back breaker. Shorthanded, Berner would put the Indians up 6-2, sealing the win for North Hills. Between the two Berner goals, Tony Peligrino netted another for North Hills. The last goal of the game was scored at the 12:52 mark by Mike Byrne, on an assist from Tyler Volz. The Fox Chapel Foxes’ season ends in the first round of the playoffs, losing to the North Hills Indians 7-2. The Indians go on to face the top seed in the AA Eastern Conference, Shaler, tomorrow night at Bladerunners Harmarville.


Westmont-Hilltop Hilltoppers 4 – Franklin Regional Panthers 3 in Overtime 
In a spirited and physical contest, three periods wasn’t enough to decide a winner in this opening round battle from the Kirk Nevin Arena in Greensburg.  But in the extra period, it was Westmont-Hilltop, the #4 team from Tier 1’s Eastern Conference who would prevail. After a scoreless first period, Franklin Regional, the top team out of Tier 2’s Eastern Conference, jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second.  Dakota McIntyre got the first one while the Panthers were shorthanded, by backhanding home his 15th goal of the season at the 3:14 mark.  80-seconds later, Jamie Mauro scored his 12th of the season when he one-timed a wrist shot off of a perfect feed from behind the net by Aaron Bartifay.  The Hilltoppers would get one back when Adam McQuillan scored his 21st of the season on the power play with just :40 seconds left in the period. Westmont-Hilltop would get the next 2 goals as well, starting with Michael Lamison’s 13th goal of the year on the power play goal 3:30 into the third period.  At 7:01, Ty Rickabaugh scored the best goal of the night, going coast to coast to beat the Panthers defense first, then goaltender Nick Paone with a double backhand to forehand move to net his 12th goal of the season.  Franklin Regional tied it up 2:02 later on Cameron Huffman’s 11th of the year. In overtime, it was Rickabaugh who would play the hero.  With 1:57 left in the first extra period, Rickabaugh brought the puck down the right wing side before lifting a backhander past Paone for the game winning goal, and Rickabaugh’s 13th of the season.  Westmont-Hilltop (9-13-0) moves on to the Class-A Quarterfinals, where they’ll Quaker Valley on Wednesday night at the Airport Ice Arena.

Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 9 – South Fayette Lions 8 
In their only meeting of the regular season, Thomas Jefferson shutout South Fayette 5-0 back in November. That goal total was eclipsed just 11 minutes into this wild, offensive shootout playoff game Monday at the Mount Lebanon Ice Arena. The Jaguars, who had a 9-5 lead with 10 minutes left in the third period, had to hold on for dear life to edge the Lions 9-8. The game was scoreless for a full four minutes before John Lipovich scored to give the Lions their only lead of the game. Just 20 seconds later, Daniel Harrold tied it for TJ and 49 seconds after that, Tommy Kimmick’s unassisted goal made it 2-1 Jaguars. Jordan Timmons scored his first goal to tie the game before another scoring spurt ended the period. Dominic Tamburi and Mathew Krieger scored for Thomas Jefferson and Spencer Barber answered for South Fayette for the final three goals of the period, all in a 49 second span, that put the Jaguars on top 4-3 after one period. Tommy Kimmick and Brady Parkinson scored in the first four minutes to increase the Jaguars lead to 6-3. Timmons for South Fayette and Kimmick for Thomas Jefferson (his 3rd goal) split goals late in the second to give Thomas Jefferson a 7-4 edge after two periods. After Timmons’ third goal pulled the Lions to within two early in the third, goals by Tamburi and Krieger, their second each, seemed to put the game away as the Jaguars led 9-5 with 10:21 left. However, the Lions dominated the rest of the way and scored three times (Timmons’ 4th, Lipovich’s 2nd and Barber’s 2nd), including twice on the power play to pull to within one. South Fayette kept the pressure up the rest of the way. A wicked wrist shot by Timmons would be blocked aside by the glove of Jaguars goalie Jordan Blosl and redirected the puck just wide of the far post with ten seconds left to help seal the win. South Fayette was five-of-nine with the man advantage and got four goals and three assists from Timmons, yet their season still comes to an end with a final record of 8-15-0. Thomas Jefferson was led by Kimmick’s three goals and three assists, while Krieger added two goals and two assists and Tamburi scored twice as the Jaguars improved to 14-9-0 and advance to the Class A Quarterfinals on Wednesday when they will face Hempfield at the Kirk Nevin Arena in Greensburg.  

Montour Spartans 6 – South Park Eagles 3 
Mt. Lebanon was the site of the battle between the #7 seeded Montour Spartans and the #10 seeded South Park Eagles in Class A PIHL opening round action for the Penguins Cup Playoffs. The game was closely contested for one and a half periods as Montour held onto a tenuous 1-0 lead. Anthony Szurlej scored the lone goal for Montour at the 15:09 mark of the first period on assists by Ian McLean and Brandon Eisel to give the Spartans a lead they would never relinquish. The score remained 1-0 Spartans at the end of one period and continued deep into the second period until Szurlej was able to connect again for a shorthanded goal with an assist from Camron Smith to up the lead to 2-0.  That goal by Szurlej seemed to sweep momentum in favor of the Spartans as they reeled off three more goals in the remainder of the second period to take a commanding 5-0 lead at the end of two periods. Brandon Eisel scored a pair of goals at the 5:19 and 4:21 marks of the second to break the game open. Ian McLean and Szurlej assisted on the first Eisel goal and Austin Szurlej picked up a point on the second one. Camron Smith closed out the Montour scoring at the 3:23 mark of the second period on an assist by Matt Tracy to make it 5-0 Montour after two periods of play. The third period saw South Park finally get on the board at the 14:12 mark on an unassisted shorthanded goal by Tanner Orr to make it 5-1 Spartans. Montour got the goal back just 38 seconds later when Mike Tracy scored at the 13:43 mark with assists going to Camron Smith and Matt Tracy. That upped the Spartan lead to 6-1 at that point.  South Park refused to give up and Tanner Orr connected on his second goal at the 10:59 mark of the third period. The final goal of the game went to Kirk Zandier of the Eagles with 2:13 left in the game on assists from Travis Campalong and Kyle Kircher. That made the final score 6-3 and advanced Montour to the next round where they will take on Deer Lakes Wednesday at the Ice Connection at 6:10 PM. Jake Muzik picked up the win for the Spartans in goal while Shane Walker was tagged with the loss for the Eagles.

Freeport Yellowjackets 6 – Bishop McCort Crimson Crushers 2 
In a game where these teams combined for 88 total shots, it was the Yellow Jackets who would prevail in this opening round matchup from the Kirk Nevin Arena in Greensburg.  Freeport, the #3 team out of Tier 1’s Eastern Conference, scored 3 times in the second period and another 3 times in the third period to defeat the Crimson Crushers, who were the #2 team out of Tier 2’s Western Conference. After a scoreless opening period, Bishop McCort got on the board first when Connor Bunn scored his 32nd goal of the season on a penalty shot at the 4:20 mark of the second period.  Freeport would answer, when Mickey Frazetta wristed home his 18th goal of the season at 7:23 of the second.  Freeport’s Matt Houston then came up with a  huge save sequence, making two saves on Cole Berkibile with his right pad from in tight, than robbing Anthony Formica by reaching back with his blocker to deny the follow up try.  A few minutes later, the Yellow Jackets would reward their goalie’s play when Robbie Reichenbaugh set up Stone Haberstroh on a lead pass which Haberstroh would bury on the break away for his 25th goal of the season at 15:36 of the second.  :50 seconds later, Hunter Kepple scored on a break away as well for his 24th goal of the season, giving the Yellow Jackets a 3-1 lead which they would hold heading into the 3rd period. Reichenbaugh would strike early in the 3rd period, netting his 13th goal of the season at the 1:27 mark.  Tommy Intrieri would find the net just over 3-minutes later, scoring his 9th of the season at 4:30.  Bunn would get his second goal of the game and 33rd of the season at 9:04 of the period, and Frazetta would get his second of the game as well, wrapping up the scoring with by registering his 19th goal of the season into an empty net with 1:01 left in regulation. Houston recorded his 6th win of the season by turning aside 41 of the 43 shots he faced.  John Bradley took the loss for Bishop McCort, stopping 39 of the 44 shots he saw.  With the win, Freeport (13-8-2) moves on to face Mars in the Class-A Quarterfinals on Wednesday night at Bladerunners-Warrendale.

More Hockey

PIHL girls division’s 3rd season highlighted by more teams, close games
Upper St. Clair classmates provide heroics in 3rd PIHL girls championship game
New coach plans to carry on ‘winning mentality’ with Franklin Regional hockey
Hampton girls hockey players spring into action
Franklin Regional junior varsity hockey goes on amazing underdog run