PIHL Team of the Week for Oct. 6, 2019

Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 11:50 PM

During the 2018-19 PIHL regular season, Class AAA was the most defensive-minded classification by a wide margin.

The leading team in goals for last year was finalist Peters Township, which scored 81 goals in 18 regular-season games.

The Indians scored eight goals once, in their penultimate contest, an 8-3 win over Mt. Lebanon.

It didn’t take long for Peters Township, despite losing 17 players to graduation, including four of its top five scorers and one of their top two goalies, to get going in the goal department this season.

The Indians bested Mt. Lebanon, coincidentally, 8-3 in the teams’ 2019-20 season opener Tuesday.

With their performance, the Indians are this year’s first TribLive High School Sports Network PIHL Team of the Week, but it wasn’t all positive for long-time coach Rick Tingle.

“We scored three goals in about three shifts. We got off to a really fast start and it’s human nature, but I thought we eased up in the second period,” Tingle said. “I’ll give credit to (Mt. Lebanon), I thought they outplayed us in the second, but the early burst out of the gate for us was good to see.”

The Indians scored the first five goals of the contest, including the first three in the first 1 minute, 32 seconds of the first period. Mark Lehman, a senior, and the overtime hero against Mt. Lebanon in last year’s semifinals, lit the lamp 46 seconds into the season.

Jack Zaken, Drew Wilbert, Dylan McElhinny and Lehman scored for the Indians before Mt. Lebanon got its first goal at 13:15 of the first.

Mt. Lebanon scored at 1:51 of the second period before Peters Township scored three times in the third period.

Lehman scored three times and added two assists.

“Mark had a really good game, but more than that he was leading the team right from the get go,” Tingle said of his new captain. “It usually takes guys a little bit of time to fall into their leadership role, but even the exact way we wanted him to play, he led by example.”

Drew and Eric Wilbert are wearing the A’s this season, and the two combined for three goals and three assists. The Indians had six players score double-digit points last season, four of which are gone. Now, three players have three or more points after one game.

“I think the guys that we have this year are playing with a little bit different of a style,” Tingle said. “One of our big question marks is Alex Wilbert, our goaltender, who is hurt. We were anticipating him having a lot of the games this year, which is unusual for us.”

Wilbert was 9-1 last year with a .927 save percentage and 2.32 GAA. The save percentage was the second best in Class AAA, as Wilbert allowed 23 goals on 315 shots faced splitting time with Brock Sharbaugh, who graduated.

“With the injury, we’re going to be spreading it out amongst a couple other guys to see who will take the lead, but we’re hopeful that he will be able to return sooner rather than later,” Tingle said.

Tingle is expecting things to get competitive and stay low-scoring in Class AAA all season.

Peters Township will get back on the ice Tuesday, against Bethel Park at the Printscape Arena in Southpointe.

Honorable mentions

Elsewhere in Class AAA, Seneca Valley bested reigning Class AA champion Pine-Richland, 4-3, in a shootout early in the week, while Central Catholic defeated Cathedral Prep by the same score in a shootout. The Vikings trailed 3-2 until the final three minutes of the third.

In Class A, North Catholic came back to the PIHL with a 7-4 win Tuesday over Sewickley Academy. The Trojans put together a 63-shot night.

Finally, Baldwin defeated reigning Class A champion Montour, 9-1, on Thursday, after Montour had started the season with a win. Baldwin was a Class AA playoff team last season, and is off to a solid start in Class A.

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