Trib HSSN PIHL Player of the Week: Week ending March 8, 2020

Sunday, March 8, 2020 | 7:25 PM

When it comes to the PIHL playoffs, teams often rely on their experienced players.

It is no different for North Allegheny, which is the top seed in the highest classification of the PIHL. The Tigers are the Class AAA defending champions. They might be primed to go back-to-back, but they can’t do that without the guys who have been there and done that being there and doing that.

In the quarterfinals this past week, Tyler Putnam did that for the Tigers.

In a closely played, 4-3 win over eighth-seeded Bethel Park, Putnam factored in on all four goals, notching a two-goal, two-assist night.

“He has come up for big his whole career, especially the last couple years,” coach Mike Bagnato said. “He’s having a really great year, and we’re so happy for him as a player. He just has a knack to score and make plays. We needed him in that game, and he came up with two big goals and two other big plays on the assists.”

Those plays get magnified in a close game.

Neither team scored in the first period. Seven seconds into the second, Connor Chi scored to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Putnam received the secondary assist. He then scored on a feed from Chi at 9:19 of the second.

After the Black Hawks scored a goal and the ice was resurfaced, Chi scored again. This time Putnam had the primary assist.

He then scored what proved to be the deciding goal at 7:20 on the powerplay from Will Parreaguirre and Tyler Lamark, who also assisted on the first Tigers goal.

Bethel Park added two to pull within one, the latter of which came with about 1 second to play in the game.

The four-point night was Putnam’s ninth multi-point night of the season. It is the third time he has notched at least four points in a game, with his high being five (five goals Jan. 14 against Central Catholic).

“We have moved him around a few times this year. He’s getting opportunities and finds a way to put himself in a good spot,” Bagnato said. “The key for him is him moving his feet, and when he does that, he has success.”

Now the Tigers will look for Putnam and others to use their experience deep in the playoffs to make plays in their semifinal against defending Double-A champion Pine-Richland, the No. 5 seed.

“We have that solid group of seniors. They’ve been here and have been in this position before,” Bagnato said. “They’ve got to find ways to get goals and make plays. We’re confident they will.”

The Rams and Tigers meet Thursday night at 7 at RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.

Honorable mentions:

• Anthony Migliozzi and Michael Felsing (Montour): Both had good weeks. Six-point weeks in fact. Felsing scored twice in the Spartans’ play-in win against West Allegheny on Sunday and then had four assists in the 6-5 overtime loss to Mars Monday in the quarterfinals. Migliozzi had two assists in the play-in contest and one goal and three assists Monday.

• Danny Mitchell (Mars): Mitchell allowed five goals in the 6-5 win over Montour in Monday’s quarterfinals but he also stopped 47 shots, which doesn’t include a penalty shot in the third period.

• Tanner Cindrich (Baldwin) and Luke Ripepi (Thomas Jefferson): The only two shutouts of the postseason thus far belong to these two. Cindrich made 16 saves in Baldwin’s 1-0 win over Meadville, and Ripepi stopped all nine shots he faced in a 5-0 win over Blackhawk.

• Jordan McCurdy (Meadville): Despite being on the wrong side of the 1-0 score against Baldwin, McCurdy did about everything he could to aid the Bulldogs, stopping 44 shots.

• Colby Bilski (Thomas Jefferson): Bilski scored twice and assisted on two other goals for the Jaguars in their 5-0 quarterfinal win over Blackhawk.

• Justin Day, Evan Eberlein and Brad Bujdos (Ringgold): Each of the three big talents for the Rams had a four-point night for the top seed in Class B, as the defending champs defeated Wilmingon, 11-2. Day scored once and had three assists, Eberlein had four helpers and Bujdos had three goals for a hat trick to go along with one assist.

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