Trib HSSN PIHL Team of the Week: Ringgold
Sunday, March 17, 2019 | 10:44 PM
Of the eight teams in the Penguins Cup championships or the Division 2 championship, only one is a seeded lower No. 2.
In Class AAA, the top two seeds made it. In classes AA and A, both division winners, thus the two top seeds, will play for the title.
In Division 2, top-seeded Burrell will play No. 3 Ringgold, which defeated No. 2 Neshannock in convincing fashion to advance Monday’s title game.
It’s another crack at the Bucs for the Rams, who lost to Burrell twice during the regular season.
Ringgold is this week’s TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Team of the Week.
The Rams’ 5-0 win against Neshannock was a result of a flip of what happened the last time Ringgold played Neshannock, according to Rams coach Rick Kalinowski.
The Rams had lost to Neshannock, 4-1, on Feb. 4.
“I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the game because they had taken it to us the last time we played,” Kalinowski said. “But once we got the first one and followed it up with two more in the second, we just kept peppering their goaltender. To be honest, he saw a lot of pucks after we kept applying pressure.”
Evan Eberlein, who scored 28 points during the regular season, got the Rams on the board first at 7 minutes, 44 seconds in the first period, and followed up with a goal and an assist on the third and fourth Ringgold goals.
In between the Eberlein goals, Brad Bujdos buried Ringgold’s second goal. Noah Schroeder scored the final two goals.
Ringgold put 43 shots on Neshannock goalie Carsen Burkhart. The Lancers had just 19 shots. Ringgold netminder Evan Cook stopped all of them.
“Evan has turned his game around this year. He was kind of a penalty-stricken player last year, and he’s certainly turned that down this year,” said Kalinowski. “He was relentless Monday night. He was back checking and carrying the puck and always looking for his linemates. He never stopped.”
Kalinowski said Cook’s play has turned up in the postseason.
Cook had one shutout during the regular season and sported a .902 save percentage and a 2.45 goals against average.
He stopped all but one of the 15 shots he faced in Ringgold’s quarterfinal win over Central Valley.
“Cook came on strong last year, and this year, every time he needs to play up he’s turned it up,” Kalinowski said. “He’s a stud in net.”
The focus for the Rams shifts to Burrell.
Ringgold won both regular-season matchups last year, before falling to the Bucs in an instant classic in last year’s Division 2 semifinals.
This meeting will be for the D2 title, which would be the first for Burrell, and the first for Ringgold at this classification. The Rams won Class A in 1990.
“I’ll go back to last year. They beat us in the playoffs after we beat them twice,” said Kalinowski. “It’s a great rivalry. We were competitive this year, and quite honestly, the second game was my fault. We tried to stay a little too aggressive after being up 4-1.”
Kalinowski said Burrell has a handful of good players, mentioning Tyler Stewart, Dylan Zelonka, Gio Palombo, Logan Schoepf and goaltender Andrew Burkett.
Burrell defeated Ringgold, 4-2, on Oct. 25, but Ringgold led in shots on goal, 53-38. The score was tied 2-2 after two periods.
In the Dec. 17 matchup, Burrell won 7-6 after the Rams led 4-0. Burrell had five power-play opportunities in the win.
“It comes down to who does the right things,” Kalinowski said. “We have to play smart and play an aggressive forecheck. If we do what we know how to do and get pucks on the net and score, we’ll be okay.”
Puck drop is set for 6 p.m.
A broadcast of the game will be available at tribhssn.triblive.com.
PIHL Honorable Mentions (Week of March 11)
In Class AAA, both semifinal winners won in double overtime. No. 2 North Allegheny defeated No. 3 Bethel Park, 2-1. Top-seeded Peters Township beat No. 4 Mt. Lebanon, 3-2. Peters Township and North Allegheny meet for the Class AAA Penguins Cup championship at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Class AA’s Penguins Cup vhampionship pits Pine-Richland, who defeated Greater Latrobe 5-2 on Wednesday, against Upper St. Clair, who bested Franklin Regional 9-8 in overtime the same night. Pine-Richland and USC will meet at 8:30 p.m. Monday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Tuesday’s Class A Championship will feature the North Division’s top seed, Montour, and the South/East Division’s top seed, South Fayette.It will be the first Penguins Cup title for the winner. South Fayette advanced with a 2-1 win over West Allegheny on Tuesday. Montour defeated Thomas Jefferson 6-5 in overtime prior to that.
Burrell’s 5-2 win over Connellsville vaulted the Bucs to the Division 2 title game for a second consecutive season.
All four of the championship games will be broadcast on the TribLIVE High School Sports Network at tribhssn.triblive.com.
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