Pine-Richland hockey enters break on high note

Sunday, December 24, 2017 | 12:15 PM

The Pine-Richland hockey team entered the holiday break riding high, after toppling a strong Latrobe squad 6-5.

The hard-fought victory was instrumental in keeping the Rams (5-3-2) in the PIHL playoff picture and above the fray in the PIHL Class AA team standings. But perhaps more importantly, the victory that ended the Wildcats' (7-4) five-game winning streak served as an important blueprint to what the Rams hope to maintain.

“I think the big thing with the game against Latrobe is our defense played extremely well. They moved the puck a lot quicker up to the forwards and gave our forwards opportunities to make plays. It's something that we've worked on in the last couple of weeks, retrieving pucks and just keeping it simple,” Pine-Richland coach Jim Black said.

“I think that all helped us get out of the zone a lot cleaner. The forwards did a nice job of moving the puck; they made some great individual plays. Jared Eggert had a goal to make it 6-4; he put a nice move on the goalie and that score really helped us hang on for the win.”

The potent offensive firepower has been typically present for the Rams this season, and that trend continued against Latrobe, with Jack Carnovale and Jake Matelan also notching crucial goals in the third period.

Alexander Rihn and Richard Wild scored for Pine-Richland in the second period of their back-and-forth battle against Latrobe, while Antonio Binotto tallied the team's lone first period score.

Black has long said the team's overall strength would be its ability to find the net, but he also said it appears that his team has now found the right way to balance that strength with a solid, quickly moving defense and passing game. Those newly-developed aspects of the team, along with a workmanlike demeanor, has Black feeling good about his team as they head into the break.

“I thought (the Latrobe) game was probably one of our best games of the regular season. We kind of returned to form from what I saw in the St. Margaret's tournament. One thing I saw (against Latrobe) was that everyone's work ethic was there. You could see after the game, kids had bumps and bruises. Everyone left it all on the ice,” Black said.

“I think (it) was one of our more honest efforts of the season from start to finish. The kids should feel good about it heading into the break. That's a good way to wrap up the first half of the season.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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