PIHL Penguins Cup Playoff Recaps for Wednesday, March 4th

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 | 11:35 PM


The third day of the high school hockey playoffs wrapped up the first two rounds in Class AAA, Class AA and Class A and helped set the Final Four in each of those classifications. While the top four teams in Class A won going away to move on, Armstrong became the second #6-seed to advance to next weeks Semifinals. Here are recaps from the five Quarterfinals games played on Wednesday around the PIHL.

A special thanks to Mark Schaas, Josh Rowntree, Adam Hoerner, Mike Azadian and Bob Orkwis for their help on these recaps.

PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS AA Quarterfinals:

Armstrong River Hawks 3 – Moon Tigers 2 
In a matchup of the #3 & # 6 seeds in the PIHL Class AA Quarterfinals at the Airport Ice Arena, the Armstrong River Hawks built a 3-0 lead and then withstood a furious third period rally by the Tigers to gain the 3-2 win and earn a spot in the semifinals for the second straight season. After a scoreless first period, Armstrong got on the board when defenseman Donovan Wichowski scored on the power play at (3:51). Wichowski took a pass from Christian Miller and took a shot from the right circle. The shot was deflected but the carom went over the head of Moon goaltender Ryan Durkin and into the net for the game’s first goal. Nicholas Long would make it 2-0 at (10:08) of the second scoring the game’s prettiest goal. Long took a pass from Donovan Wichowski at center ice and gained the Moon zone with speed down the left wing. Long turned towards the net along the left goal line and went from backhand to forehand and then beat Durkin top shelf from in close for his 6th goal of the season. Moon had a great chance to cut the lead to one in the third period when Shane Handlovich stole the puck and came in on a two-on-none break with Jake Fortwangler. Handlovich steamed down the left side but his wrist missed the net on the short side and the score remained 2-0. Shortly after that misfire, junior Luke Gross, who earned the third star in the game, capped a strong effort by netting the eventual game winner at (6:02) of the third period. David Contrael got the puck to Gross in the high slot and his wrist shot eluded Durkin to put the River Hawks up 3-0. To Moon’s credit, they didn’t quit. Nick Hart started the comeback for the Tigers when he banged a Fortwangler pass behind Armstrong goalie Taylor Smouse for his 8th goal of the season and the score was 3-1 at the (8:14) mark. Moon then earned 3 consecutive power plays and had two brief 5-on-3 advantages but the Tigers were unable to score until :35 remained in the game when Brayden Lange blasted a slap shot over the glove hand of Smouse from the right point to cut the lead to one goal. Moon had two faceoff’s in the Armstrong zone after the Lange goal but could not muster a shot on goal as the sixth seeded River Hawks secured a berth in the next round. Including the power plays and the time that Moon played with Durkin pulled from the net, the Tigers spent nearly seven minutes of the third period playing with a man advantage. But the River Hawks penalty kill was a key in the win as Armstrong killed off all 5 Moon power plays. #3 Moon ends the season with a (13-7) record. Next up for the Armstrong (15-4-1) is Eastern Conference rival Shaler. The second seeded Titans and the River Hawks split back-to-back games late in the regular season with Shaler winning 3-2 on the road and Armstrong returning the favor in their season finale 8-5 at the Bladerunners in Harmarville. Durkin finished the game with 22 saves for Moon to earn the second star and Smouse made 29 stops to earn the Management Science Associates Player of the Game in goal for the River Hawks.

PIHL PENGUINS CUP CLASS A Quarterfinals:

Quaker Valley Quakers 9 – Westmont-Hilltop Hilltoppers 3 
With flourishes late in the first and second periods, and one more early in the third, Quaker Valley (20-1-1) took each frame 3-1 to defeat Westmont Hilltop (8-14-0) in the Class A Quarterfinals at Airport Ice Arena. Gunnar Hockenberry got the Hilltoppers on the board first, though, just 4:25 into the contest. Adam Pilewicz would answer for the Quakers three minutes later. Then Connor Quinn at even strength and Ryan Quinn on the power play 1:10 apart built a two-goal lead through one. Ty Rickabaugh pulled Westmont back within a goal midway through the hockey game, but two minutes later it was Connor Quinn on a shorthanded breakaway going backhand for the eventual winner. That started a barrage of six goals for QV in just over 10 minutes of game time, including two more for Pilewicz to complete the hat trick. Austin Crespo gave Westmont the final word with 12:17 to play, but the defending champs shut the door from there. Pilewicz added one assist to his effort, Connor Quinn had two, and Beau Tomczak notched four helpers in the win. Quaker Valley advances to face Hempfield in the Semifinals at RMU Island Sports Center at 6:00 PM next Wednesday, March 11.

Hempfield Spartans 7 – Thomas Jefferson Jaguars 4 
Hempfield (16-6-1) scored four goals in the first nine minutes, propelling them to a 7-4 Quarterfinal win over Thomas Jefferson (14-10) on Wednesday night at Kirk S. Nevin Arena in Grensburg. Christian Gorscak scored two goals and added three assists for the Spartans, who move on to face Quaker Valley in the PIHL Class A Semifinals. After Gorscak opened the scoring on a tap-in goal just 2:16 into the contest, Luke Rosendale would score an early shorthanded goal just over two minutes later, taking any momentum away from the Jaguars. Shortly after that, Max Romanowicz and Gorscak would score just over a minute apart, stretching the Spartans’ lead to 4-0 only 8:48 into the game. Tommy Kimmick would give Thomas Jefferson some hope late in the period after stealing a puck and rifling it by Hempfield goalie Garet Ciaramella, cutting the Hempfield lead to 4-1 after one period. However, Hempfield captain Conor Cortazzo would net a powerplay goal on a rebound just 3:50 into the second period, upping the lead to 5-1. Thomas Jefferson would stay in the game on a Brendan Crousey powerplay goal at 11:08 of the second period. But the momentum would again be short-lived, as Hempfield’s brother tandem took over. Andrew Koziara would finish a terrific pass from his brother, Nick, at 14:19 of the period. Less than two minutes later, Nick Koziara would net a goal of his own, stretching the Spartans’ lead to 7-2 after two periods. Thomas Jefferson would receive a pair of goals in the third period from Dan Harrold and Matt Krieger, but could not complete the comeback. In addition to Gorscak’s efforts, Rosendale and Nick Koziara would each add a goal and two assists. Matt Krieger and Tommy Kimmck would lead Thomas Jefferson with a goal and an assist each, while goaltender Jordan Blosl stopped 26 of 33 shots faced. The Spartans will meet Quaker Valley, the top seed out of Class A’s Tier One Western Conference on Wednesday, March 11th at 6:00 PM at Robert Morris University’s Island Sports Center. The Spartans and Quakers split their regular season series by lopsided margins, with Hempfield downing Quaker Valley 8-2 (Quaker Valley’s only loss of the season) and the Quakers returning the favor 7-2 later in the season.

Deer Lakes Lancers 8 – Montour Spartans 1 
The Lancers advanced to the semifinals, after falling in the quarterfinals the last two seasons, using a dominant second period for the win. Mitchell Rupprecht, the leading scorer in Class A during the regular season, notched a hat trick and Vincent Casale scored twice in 49 seconds to give the Lancers a commanding lead. Rupprecht put the Lancers up 1-0 in the first on a blast from the middle of the far circle, beating goalie Jake Muzik. That lead lasted until four minutes into the second when Ryan Murdock scored to give Deer Lakes a 2-0 lead. The plays of the game came 56 second apart, when Casale scored at 6:08, he was set up on a breakaway 49 seconds later by goalie Jonathan Lang to put Deer Lakes up 4-0. Montour coach Dustin Kerr called his timeout to try and slow the momentum but it didn’t work as Zachery Luniewski won the faceoff, broke thru the defense and scored unassisted seven seconds later for a 5-0 advantage that Montour had no hope of recovering from. Luniewski scored 1:10 into the third on a power play with Nicholas Sauer off for slashing. Casale set up Rupprecht for two more goals and a 8-0 margin, the first sent the game into a running clock, Matt Tracy scored on a rebound off a Ian McLean rebound to put the Spartans on the board. Rupprecht added an assist to go with his three goals, Casale had three helpers, as did defenseman Jonathan Merlo. Montour actually outshot Deer Lakes 26-19, the Spartans were 0-2 on the man advantage. Deer Lakes was 2-3 on the power play.

Mars Fighting Planets 7 – Freeport Yellowjackets 0 
The Mars Planets showed their dominance as they cruised to a 7-0 victory in the PIHL single A quarterfinals over the Freeport Yellow Jackets. Mars will now play in the semi final against the Deer Lakes Lancers on Wedensday March 11th at the RMU Island Sports Center. After a scoreless 1st period where Mars dominated in shots 15-5 and had the better of play thru most of the stanza the scoring began in period two. As a Freeport power play was about to end Paul Maust stole a puck the the Yellow Jacket blue line and went in on a breakaway and scored a pretty goal to make it 1-0 at 5:40. They would make it 2-0 when Owen Vasbinder scored at 9:08 to make it 2-0. Freeport was running on fumes and Mars kept pressing and would score short handed at 13:02. Noah Raymundo would get the puck right off the face off in Freeport’s defensive zone and rifle a shot to make it 3-0. The Planets out shot Freeport 14-5 in the second period. Into the third period Mars just got better. At one point they held a shot total advantage of 42-15 as they thouroughly out played Freeport all period. Beau Heakins would score on the power play at 8:01 to make it 4-0, then the Planets would score three goals in 3:44 to put a stamp on the game and send it to the mercy rule running clock.Keaton Hanna, Heakins, and Maust all scored and just like that it was 7-0. Mars again badly out shot the Yelow Jackets 16-10 in the period and 45-20 for the game. The MSA three stars of the game were: 3rd star, Noah Raymundo, Mars 1 goal, 1 assist…2nd star, Paul Maust,  Mars, 2 goals…1st star, Beau Heakins, Mars, 2 goals,1 assist

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