Trib HSSN PIHL team of the week: Greensburg Salem

Monday, February 10, 2020 | 4:45 PM

It’s been an extended playoffs of sorts over the last few weeks for the Greensburg Salem hockey team.

They’re in quite the race. Entering this week of action, the Lions trail Norwin and Bishop McCort for a playoff spot in Class A’s Southeast Division by five points with four games remaining. Two of those games are against Bishop McCort and Norwin.

This past week, the Golden Lions faced a huge test in South Park and All-Star goalie Shane Peremba, and did the Eagles ever take care of business.

Greensburg Salem upended South Park, 9-2, for their second straight win by seven goals. It’s the most goals this season against Peremba, who is one of the top goalies in a lot of statistical categories in the entire league, and only the third time he’s given up four or more goals in a game.

Golden Lions coach Corey Mentch said his team, especially Brendon Linderman, Colin Kruth and Cole McNair, got going quickly and took their focus to another level in what the team knew was a very important contest.

“We knew the stakes and we know where we’re at. We knew the quality of that team and goaltender,” said Mentch. “The energy was different in the room, and the guys took things to another level. When those three guys get going, they can really turn a game, and everything went well for us.”

Linderman and Kruth scored consecutively to start the game at 5:26 and 10:21 in the first period. Kruth and Cullen Carney assisted the first goal while McNair helped on the second. South Park then scored at 11:47 to make it a one-goal game before Linderman and McNair scored the next two goals in the middle stages of the second. Linderman then scored at 11:42 to make it 5-2 after a South Park tally.

The Lions scored four times in the third period, giving them five unanswered to end the contest. Kruth and Linderman added one apiece before Zack Marincheck and Richie Christeleit both netted their first varsity goals, in moments the team’s bench went “crazy” for, according to Mentch.

Colton Crabtree’s assist on the ninth goal was his first varsity point.

“A couple of my guys were familiar with (Peremba) from the All-Star Game. We were just trying to put quality shots on him,” said Mentch. “We certainly got to him a bit, and it was great. You don’t do that to that type of goaltender very often.”

Mentch said the message before the third period was to not coast.

“We have had a few instances where we’ve given away leads late, and it’s cost us points,” said Mentch. “We wanted to keep our foot on the gas and keep our attention to detail on the defensive end.”

The Golden Lions put a greater emphasis on the defensive end earlier in the season and that paid off again, as Mentch said they focused on the transition chances with the confidence their goalies would make the big saves.

Cam Caretti stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced in the win, while Andrew Stead has also been steady in between the pipes this year for Greensburg Salem.

Linderman, Kruth and McNair are all guys Mentch said the team has confidence to make plays in this final stretch.

“Every one of those kids has every tool in the box,” said Mentch. “They’re fun to watch, and we trust them to make plays for us.”

This week, the Lions play Kiski on Tuesday and Bishop McCort on Thursday.

“We know the margin for error for us is effectively zero,” said Mentch. “The guys are aware of the scenario and when the opportunity arises, we’ve prepared to be ready for it. We know we’re a good team and we go in knowing we have a chance to win every night.”

Puck drop Tuesday against Kiski is slated for 8:30 p.m. Thursday’s game at home against Bishop McCort starts at 7:15 p.m.

Honorable mention

Canon-McMillan The Big Macs used a 46-save shutout by Mario Eafrati to claim a 3-0 win over Pine-Richland on Monday. The win puts Canon-Mac in a tie for third place in the Class AAA standings with Peters Township entering play this week. The Big Macs have already clinched a spot in the postseason.

ArmstrongThe Riverhawks have clinched a spot in the playoffs in Class AA thanks to a 5-4 win over South Fayette on Thursday night. Armstrong is two points behind Plum with two games remaining in the Northeast Division.

• Norwin – Six players had at least three points in the Knights’ 13-2 win Tuesday against Wheeling Catholic in Class A action. The shots on goal disparity was 31-6.

North CatholicThe Trojans picked up two wins as they continue to storm towards the Class A playoffs. North Catholic won 11-2 Monday night over Wheeling Catholic and then 7-4 Tuesday over Indiana. The Trojans will be the Northwest Division champions and trail Thomas Jefferson in the overall points race in Varsity A by just one point.

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