PIHL suspends Penguins Cup playoffs

Thursday, March 12, 2020 | 2:52 PM

Just like the PIAA, the PIHL is suspending its postseason for at least two weeks because of concerns over the coronavirus.

While high school hockey does not fall under the PIAA jurisdiction, the PIHL serves as the sport’s governing body for a majority of Western Pennsylvania programs.

“Even though we’re not a part of the PIAA, we certainly respect their decisions,” PIHL commissioner John Mucha said. “The PIAA recommended a two-week break in order for schools to gather more information and get things organized. We’re going to follow those guidelines, too.

“At the end of day, there is nothing more important than the health and safety of everybody,” he continued. “We looked at maybe, down the road, the possibility of playing without family and fans in attendance, but they are such an instrumental part of the kids’ lives that we didn’t want to do that.”

Mucha stressed the suspension of play does not have to do with any players, coaches or staff being diagnosed with covid-19.

“We have no known situations within the PIHL,” he said.

The two-week postseason suspension is in effect for all three levels of the PIHL’s postseason — varsity, junior varsity and middle school.

At the varsity level, the Penguins Cup Class A and AA and Class B semifinals were completed earlier this week. Class AAA was to feature a Thursday night doubleheader with North Allegheny meeting Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley taking on Peters Township at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island, but that is postponed.

All four groups were to play for championships Monday and Tuesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, but those games are postponed as well.

“I’ve already been in discussion with the rinks, and they are willing to work with us, and they think they can get us some ice slots,” Mucha said.

Traditionally, the Penguins Cup champions from Class AAA, AA and A meet the Flyers Cup champions for the Pennsylvania Cup. This year’s tripleheader was scheduled for next Saturday at Ice Line Quad Rinks in West Chester. Those state championship games are postponed, too, and could be rescheduled.

“We’ve had some discussions with our friends out in the East. We’re still going to try to save the state championships,” Mucha said. “It’ll be tough. We have a little more flexibility on our side, in terms of when the games could be played by.”

During the two-week postseason suspension, PIHL teams may practice and play scrimmage games.

“That’s up to each individual team and organization,” Mucha said.

Latrobe and Baldwin advanced to the Penguins Cup Class AA championship with wins Wednesday night, while Thomas Jefferson and Indiana are set to play for the Penguins Cup Class A title. Carrick and Ringgold advanced to the Class B championship game.

North Allegheny is the defending Penguins Cup Class AAA champ, while Pine-Richland won the Penguins Cup and state titles last year in Class AA, but moved up to Class AAA this season.

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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