PIHL Team of the Week for Oct. 13, 2019

Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 10:24 PM

A late surge was the reason for a Class AA playoff appearance last season for the Baldwin hockey team.

The reason the Highlanders needed to be playing their best at the end of the year to sneak into the Penguins Cup playoffs was a rough start.

Baldwin lost four of its first five games last season before winning two and dropping its next three.

The team’s final record was 6-4, something Justin Glock and his team were proud of, but this year, the Highlanders want to avoid having to be that good down the stretch.

“It’s a big concern of mine to win division games. Only two teams out of our division will go the playoffs,” Glock said. “We started very slow last year, so it has been stressed that we need to be on from the get-go this year. We can’t take any nights off.”

They haven’t yet. Baldwin has won both of its games so far, defeating defending Class A champion Montour, 9-1, in the Spartans’ debut in Class AA, and winning 5-1 this past week against West Allegheny, another powerful team that moved up to Class AA this season.

The Highlanders are this week’s TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Team of the Week.

Baldwin scored the first four goals against West Allegheny, all in the second period. Two of the first three came after faceoff wins.

Robbi Aranos scored twice, and Jimmy Dulya and Joey Antonio also had goals before West Allegheny got a late goal in the second.

Justin Pollard score in the third for Baldwin.

“We played OK, and we got some lucky bounces,” Glock said. “I thought it could’ve been a much closer game than it was. We got a few goals off faceoffs, and our goalie, Tanner Cindrich, was outstanding.”

“We weren’t really happy with how we played in the first period, and the players responded to our chat between periods.”

Glock talked about a shift one of his lines had that turned the tide.

“We had a line with two first-year players, Joey Jacobs, Logan Picchi, and then Justin Pollard, who I thought had the shift of the game,” said Glock. “I had apologized to them because I didn’t get them a ton of ice time in the first seven or eight minutes, but they got out there late in the period and produced a ton of offensive zone time. It really shifted the momentum, we thought.”

That line finished the scoring, as Jacobs and Picchi assisted on Pollard’s third-period goal.

Cindrich saved 36 of West Allegheny’s 37 shots. He allowed one goal in his first game as well, stopping 20-plus shots.

Glock said Cindrich stopped a few breakaways, including one late in the second period, that helped keep Baldwin in command.

“In the end, (Cindrich) made the score look a lot different than how tight the game felt,” Glock said. “Last year he was our backup, and he took it well and was respectful. I told him this year would be his year, and he’s stepped up.”

Cindrich won both of his starts last season and is 2-0 this fall.

“He came up huge for us in a lot of instances in the West A game,” Glock said.

Baldwin plays Oct. 14 against division foe South Fayette (1-1). Puck drop is 9:10 p.m. at Mt. Lebanon Ice Center.

“We’re expecting a tight game,” said Glock. “We should be up for a battle. Teams get better as they play more.”


Honorable mentions:

Hempfield: Eight Spartans scored in a 9-4 victory over Franklin Regional on Monday in Class AA.

South Fayette: In an early-season divisional matchup in Class AA, South Fayette bested Montour, 5-4, in a back-and-forth battle.

Kiski Area: In Class A, the Cavaliers routed Sewickley Academy, 9-0, on Tuesday.

Ringgold: The reigning open-division champs outshot Morgantown, 55-20, in a 5-2 victory.

• Canon-Mac: The Big Macs defeated Cathedral Prep, 2-0, on Tuesday, winning by shutout for the second straight game to start the season.


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