Trib HSSN PIHL Team of the Week: Jan. 12, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020 | 7:31 PM

After a 6-0 start to PIHL play, Seneca Valley started a tailspin.

The Raiders lost four of their next five heading into the break.

The holidays allowed the Raiders to reset after the rough patch, and they righted the ship this week. Seneca Valley has wins in back-to-back games, 3-2 over Upper St. Clair in overtime Monday and 8-1 over Central Catholic on Thursday night.

The Raiders are the TribLIVE High School Sports Network’s PIHL Team of the Week.

“Our end going into break didn’t really meet our expectations based on how we started out the season,” eighth-year coach Anthony Raco said. “So we kind of took a break to prepare (and) to kind of re-invent who we are but also get back to the things we did well. We focused on getting hard on the forecheck, being disruptive as much as we possibly could and we tinkered around with some lineup things.”

One of main focal points for the Raiders in the game against Upper St. Clair, Raco said, was getting back to skating hard, skating fast, getting pucks on net and simplifying the game a bit.

Seneca Valley was able to do that early. It scored on a shot off the stick of Clayton Bucher on the power play around the 5-minute mark. Dylan Frazier assisted.

That was it for the first period, but Upper St. Clair scored twice in the second. Bucher tied the score with a short-handed goal in the third.

“Clayton plays hard every shift,” Raco said. “His second goal, he made a good read on the penalty kill to get aggressive with the puck on the boards, chipped it behind their ‘D’ and went 1-on-1 with the goalie. Dylan managed the puck really well, and I think he played his best overall game. He was way more noticeable on the ice.”

Then, 3:42 into the overtime, Frazier scored at even strength to win the game. Robbie Halyama got the win, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced.

“We try to keep guys fresh in the three-on-three,” Raco said. “Defensively, we want to stay as man-to-man as possible and not get too caught up in switches or anything. With the winner, (Andrew) Davis kind of isolated their defense and gave a good feed to Dylan, who saw a spot and he went for it.”

The win Thursday night was never in doubt, though Raco didn’t think the Raiders played well after a Central Catholic timeout in the early stages of the first period. He said they turned things around after the intermission between the second and third periods.

The Raiders scored two goals on their first three shots, with Tyler Tappe and Noah Nicklas scoring at 1:15 and 2:25, respectively. Seneca Valley made it 3-0 at 6:37 in the second, with Austin Albert’s first of the night, before the Vikings made it 3-1 a few minutes later.

“We wanted to mirror our effort, and they called a great timeout and found their legs. It killed our momentum, and we had talked about it during the timeout — about not letting that happen, but it did,” said Raco. “We just didn’t play well the rest of the period or in the second, but the third period was dominant.”

Seneca Valley scored five times in the third. Bucher, Tyler Kovac, Tappe, Ryan Russell and Albert scored to help the Raiders pull away and move into second place in a contentious Triple-A.

Raco said his team will have to be ready every night — as does every team in the class, because of the parity and tightness of the standings.

Seneca Valley next plays Jan. 20 at home against Bethel Park.

Honorable Mentions:

Franklin Regional The Panthers continued to keep pace with unbeaten Latrobe in the Southeast Division by defeating the Northeast Division’s first-place team, Plum, in a shootout Monday by a final of 5-4 in Double-A action.

Shaler The Titans picked up a 4-3 overtime win against the Northwest Division leader Quaker Valley on Tuesday night.

Baldwin The Highlanders stayed undefeated with several barrages of shots on goal against Plum on Thursday night. Baldwin moved to 9-0 to lead the Southwest Division in Double A, recording 72 shots on goal to 19 for Plum in a 9-2 victory. Perhaps the more impressive feat was the Highlanders had 15 players on the scoresheet.

Greensburg Salem The Golden Lions used 42 shots on goal to pace them to a 6-1 victory Monday against Beaver and held the Bobcats to 12 shots on goal.

Fox Chapel The Foxes won two games this week, defeating Sewickley Academy, 7-3, on Monday and Beaver, 8-2, on Thursday.

• Morgantown — In Class B action, Morgantown won two games. It beat Avonworth, 5-1, on Monday and Central Valley, 8-2, on Thursday night.

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