Trib HSSN PIHL Player of the Week: Montour’s Ryan Eisel
Sunday, February 17, 2019 | 7:29 PM
During the third period of Monday’s Class A contest between Deer Lakes and Montour, one of the Lancers’ captains skated up to the Montour bench and talked with Montour coach Clay Shell and some of the captains for the Spartans.
Deer Lakes senior forward Brandon Loncaric has autism. His teammates wanted to get him a goal on senior night, as Tuesday was the Lancers’ final home game of the season.
“We were up 9-1, and one of their captains came over and told us he never had a goal and wanted to see if we could set him up to get one. There were a lot of people there,” Shell said. “It was really cool. The players on the bench, mostly two of our leaders, Ryan Eisel and Ritchy (Froehlich Jr.) were immediately on board and adamant about doing it.”
Lonaric scored at even strength from Shane Miller to make it 9-2. Shell said the arena erupted. The Deer Lakes bench was going crazy, and Shell’s players were standing and banging their sticks against the boards.
“There was a play, and everything worked out,” Shell said. “It was one of those bigger than the game moments, and I was so proud of our kids, especially Eisel and Froehlich for pushing so hard for it. They get it.”
The moment was one of many good ones in the game. Montour ended up winning 10-2 on the back of seven goals from Eisel and a goal and eight assists from two-time TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Player of the Week Froehlich Jr. This week, it’s Eisel’s turn.
“He has been playing like a man possessed the last few weeks,” Shell said. “In the locker room, you could tell he was going to have a good night. He was dialed in.”
“Driven” is the other word Shell used to describe Eisel’s game Monday night.
Eisel scored 35 seconds into the game and again at 6 minutes, 37 seconds of the first period to give Montour a 2-0 lead. Eisel then scored the fourth, fifth and sixth goals before scoring two of the final three for the Spartans. Froehlich assisted on every Eisel goal.
The assistant captain was a sophomore on the team that lost in overtime in the semifinals two years ago. He watched his older brother take that loss. Shell said with the playoffs nearing, Eisel has taken that experience and used it to turn up his drive.
“He doesn’t like to lose, but he doesn’t like when the team is not playing well. He’s very vocal and very honest,” Shell said. “He’ll step up to anybody, and guys feed off it. He’s been pushing everybody the last few weeks to get where we need to be.”
Eisel had two hat tricks entering the game and had five games of at least four points. All but one of those have come since Jan. 7.
Eisel’s seven goals against Deer Lakes gave him 26 on the season to go with 19 assists. His 45 points are good for third best on the team.
“He had a couple of those rocket sniper shots that you just sat back and said, ‘Wow,’ “ Shell said. “He was just so dialed in.”
Montour’s and Eisel’s focus are on the prize, and the senior class knows how close they were two years ago.
“They’re all really excited and maybe a bit nervous, too,” Shell said. “I keep telling them to focus on the game in front of us. Ryan is one of the louder ones in the locker room in terms of keeping our guys focused. He and all of the seniors really want it.”
Eisel and the Spartans will finish the regular season Monday at RMU Island Sports Center against Freeport. The Spartans are locked in as the No. 1 seed out of the North Division in the postseason.
PIHL honorable mentions (week of Feb. 11):
Cole Shannon stopped 42 of the 45 shots he faced in Baldwin’s playoff-clinching win Monday over Upper St. Clair. Also in Class AA, Hampton’s Matthew Commendatore had three goals and an assist Monday in the Talbots’ 10-1 win over Plum. Moon’s Lukas Konecsni posted a 30-save shutout of Hampton on Thursday.
Montour’s Froehlich receives an honorable mention as well for his one-goal, eight-assist night against Deer Lakes. West Allegheny’s Bradley Ryniawec scored two goals and assisted on three in an 11-1 win over Fox Chapel on Monday. Also in Class A, Mason Pivarnik scored three goals and had two assists in the Knights’ 8-7 win in overtime Thursday. Pivarnik scored the winner as well. Jacob Dally scored a goal as well and assisted on six more for the Knights. Westmont Hilltop’s Logan Webb had a six-point night against Greensburg Salem on Thursday as well.
In Division 2 action, McDowell goaltender Johnathan Nicklas stopped 52 of the 55 shots he faced in a 4-3 overtime win over Trinity.
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