Ringgold nets OT winner, moves on to PIHL Class B final showdown with Neshannock

Thursday, April 15, 2021 | 11:24 PM

It was an overtime thriller as Ringgold defeated Bishop Canevin, 4-3, at RMU Island Sports Center on Thursday, to advance to the PIHL Varsity B Playoff Championship.

After nearly four periods of hockey, Ringgold cashed in for the winner with 1 minute, 36 seconds left in the overtime frame.

Rams defender Hunter Hodgson worked the puck around a trio of skaters, and when it came time to shoot or pass, he found fellow junior Ethan Saylor on the doorstep to chip home the goal and give Ringgold a return trip to the final, years in the making.

“I was just thinking about making the best play I could,” Hodgson said. “I had to get around whoever I had to get around to make the play and thankfully capped it off and ended the game. Nothing better you could ask for right there.”

Said Saylor: “Hunter skated around like three people, and I was just standing there back door and he slid it right to me.”

Ringgold will face Neshannock at 9 p.m. Tuesday in the championship game at RMU Island Sports Center.

Ringgold opened the scoring on a possession owned by Saylor. The forward centered a pass to Nicholas Nagy, who came flying between the circles and fired the puck past the Crusaders goaltender Adam Serakowski to give the Rams a 1-0 lead with 8:37 to play in the first.

Rams goalie Jerry Mease had his work cut out for him with under four minutes to play on a sustained series of scoring chances by Bishop Canevin. Mease kicked away a seeing-eye shot from the blue line from Crusaders defender Michael Parzynski III, then followed it up seconds later with a stop on Ty Serakowski from a hard angle on the right.

Ringgold held a 1-0 lead to start the second period. That’s when Bishop Canevin went to work.

Approaching the 10-minute mark, PJ Forster skated up the right side and fired a wrister from just below the faceoff dot past Mease and into the twine to tie the score 1-1. Ian Lecker earned an assist on the goal.

With 3:43 left in the second, the Crusaders took their first lead of the game and Lecker was once again in on the action. Lecker’s shot was stopped on a diving save by Mease before Turner Anselm put the rebound top shelf to give his team the 2-1 lead and momentum it needed heading to the third.

“That was our jumping point, once we knew we could get them off their game. But we knew they were going to come out in the third strong,” Bishop Canevin coach Eric Glover said.

And that’s exactly what the Rams did.

Just 1:35 into the third, Nathan Boulanger sniped a goal from the right side to tie the score 2-2, with assists from Hunter Suarez and Steven Macheska.

Less than five minutes later, Boulanger struck again. After a save by Mease at the other end, Boulanger raced up the ice and fired a long-range missile from the top of the left circle and buried his second goal of the game and third of the playoffs.

But three minutes later, the tide turned in Canevin’s favor. The duo of the Crusaders captain and lone senior Anselm, and freshman Ryan Saginaw, put the pressure on Mease and the Rams. A snipe attempt by Saginaw rattled off Mease’s stickhandle, but he didn’t miss on his second opportunity. He tucked the shot under the pads and into the net to tie the score 3-3 with eight minutes to play in regulation.

Ringgold nearly ended it with seven seconds left when a shot from Zach Kalinowski rang off the pipe, but this one was destined for overtime.

The star of the show until the winning goal was Serakowski. Ringgold returned to form in the third period and in overtime, dominating the offensive play and shots on goal 13-6 in the third and 14-8 in overtime.

Serakowski made 47 saves on 51 shots, and after the Rams celebration dogpile broke up, Mease led every one of his Ringgold teammates in a trip to the crease where the Crusaders netminder still laid in shock. They picked him up and congratulated him on an outstanding performance.

“Their goalie? Can’t say enough,” said Ringgold coach Rick Kalinowski, who embraced Serakowski on the ice after the game. “Phenomenal player. I told him he could come over, and I’d start another team with him.”

Said Glover: “He’s played really great for us. My heart really goes out to him. He just plays so hard every game. We’ve got one senior and nine freshman. We’re going to get better. Next year is going to be our year.”

Despite Serakowski’s best efforts, it’s Ringgold that advances.

“The message on our board was ‘complete focus.’ It’s been that every day,” Kalinowski said. “I’m so proud of this team. We lost nine seniors last year. We had a short bench tonight. The boys stepped up.”

Neshannock 5, Wilmington 2

Tino Multari snapped a 1-1 tie late in the second period and added a pair of assists to lead Neshannock to a 5-2 victory over Wilmington in the PIHL Class B semifinals Thursday night.

Tommy Malvar followed Multari’s goal with a pair of his own, one late in the second period and one early in the third, as Neshannock broke the game open and took a 4-1 lead.

Davey Cochenour and Lex Moses also scored for Neshannock. Riley Mastowski made 35 saves.

Drake Tomak scored twice for Wilmington. His second tied the score 1-1 less than five minutes into the second period.

Watch an archived broadcast of the PIHL Class B semifinals between Bishop Canevin and Ringgold on Trib HSSN.

Watch an archived broadcast of the PIHL Class B semifinals between Wilmington and Neshannock on Trib HSSN.

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