Seneca Valley holds off Peters Township for 1st Penguins Cup

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 11:09 PM

Seneca Valley just wanted a lead entering the third period.

It didn't matter if it was five goals or one — the Raiders were confident they'd close out the win.

That was the case Tuesday night as Seneca Valley held off Peters Township, 4-2, to claim the PIHL Class 3A Penguins Cup championship at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

“It's as great as I thought it'd be,” Seneca Valley coach Anthony Raco said. “These kids give everything they have year in and year out. It's just great to see that hard work finally pay off. I had alumni texting me all day long and this is for them, too. It's been a long time coming.”

It's the first Penguins Cup title for the Raiders (15-6).

“This is special,” Seneca Valley's Tyler Draper said. “This is our first one, so this is really special.”

Seneca Valley looks to capture its first state title against St. Joseph's Prep at 4 p.m. Saturday at Quad Line Ice Rinks in West Chester.

“We have more work to do,” Draper said. “This weekend is going to be fun, as well.”

The Raiders' Jackson Blucher opened the scoring with 8 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first period. A puck squirted to Blucher just inside the blue line. He fired a shot on net that deflected off a Peters Township defender and into the goal.

The Indians (16-5), who were looking to defend their Penguins Cup and state championships, struck back with a power-play goal 3:33 into the second period. Cal Raymore's shot from the near circle floated past Logan Johnson to tie the game.

Draper gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead 7:41 into the second period. Bryce Korner carried the puck behind the net and flipped a pass to Draper in the slot. He buried it before he was knocked into the crossbar.

Seneca Valley cashed in 13 seconds later when Michael Spokane's spinning shot off a rebound found the back of the net. It boosted the Raiders' lead to 3-1 with 9:06 left.

“That was a huge momentum burst for us,” Draper said. “The student section really helped us out tonight, too. It was awesome.”

Peters Township got one back when Jack Underwood swatted in a loose puck with 5:53 on the clock.

However, Seneca Valley shut the door in the third period. Gio Sarachine's empty-net goal iced the win with 46.7 seconds to go.

“(Holding the lead) doesn't affect us at all. We knew that if we just did our jobs, we'd be fine,” Draper said. “We have the best goalie in the league. So, we know if we work hard and grind it out, we were going to be fine and that's what we did. We gave it our all and we're happy.”

Johnson stopped 26 shots to earn the win in goal.

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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