Trib HSSN PIHL Team of the Week: Week ending Jan. 19, 2020

Sunday, January 19, 2020 | 10:45 PM

Ringgold came into the 2019-20 season with lofty expectations, and for good reason. Last year, the Rams avenged being eliminated in the previous postseason by Burrell by beating the Bucs in the Division 2 championship game.

They want to get back there again, and they’re playing well enough to do it.

The Rams are unbeaten through 13 games, including three games that were decided by two goals or fewer.

In their last five games, they have scored at least 11 goals, a pace that has pushed their season goal total to 115. That’s the best in the classification by 32 goals. It is the most in the PIHL by 12, in front of the 103 goals by Thomas Jefferson in Class A.

The Rams have five of the top six point scorers in Class B, including the top two.

This past week, the defending Open Division champion won twice, 11-2 over Avonworth on Monday and 15-3 over Central Valley on Thursday, and is the TribLIVE High School Sports Network’s PIHL Team of the Week.

“We were a bit worried about the Avonworth game. That is a second-place team that hung with Carrick,” coach Rich Kalinowski said. “The Central Valley game was a good game for us. We ended up with 15 goals, and it wasn’t like we were trying to run it up. It just happened.”

Saying the Rams started quickly in the game against Avonworth may be an understatement. Ringgold scored five goals in the first 9 minutes, 39 seconds of the first period.

“A lot of the kids had no idea what I was talking about, but after the first period I told them they looked like the Russian Army,” Kalinowski said. “They came out, they were passing well and it was stellar. They turned it back on in the third period like they were playing the first.”

Avonworth scored its only two goals to start the second. Ringgold scored the next six to close the night, including five in the third period.

Brad Bujdos led the way in the win with three goals and added two assists. Evan Eberlein scored twice, as did Nathan Todd and Ethan Saylor. Hunter Suarez and Nathan Boulanger scored once each. Justin Day assisted on five tallies, and Eberlein had three helpers.

Chad DeGroen made 18 saves on the 20 shots he faced.

Ringgold then ran past Central Valley, scoring the first three goals and 10 of the first 11 in the game. The Rams then scored the final five to close the night.

Bujdos scored twice and had two assists. Eberlein had a goal and two assists. Day had a goal and three helpers. Saylor assisted on five goals. Suarez had two goals and three assists. Nathan Todd had a goal and two apples, and Zach Kalinowski had four tallies.

“I think we had a bunch of guys score, and they are working together,” Kalinowski said. “I take the philosophy I used 20 years ago. Shots get you goals and goals get you games, but it’s about getting quality shots. It’s all about execution.”

Kalinowski said his players are just as happy with an assist as scoring a goal.

“They’re jumping. Either we you’re on the score sheet there,” he said.

The Rams are one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the PIHL. Latrobe and Baldwin don’t have a blemish in Class AA. Kalinowski says they have got a few big weeks ahead of them. They will play a solid Morgantown team Thursday at 8:15 p.m.

Honorable mentions

Cathedral Prep: It wasn’t the greatest night for the Ramblers in the shots-on-goal department, as they were defeated in that category 33-18 by Bethel Park on Thursday. But the Ramblers made the 18 shots count, scoring four times and winning 4-0, thanks to great work in net by Seth Faulkner, who stopped all 33 shots he faced. The Ramblers have 13 points and are in the seventh playoff spot.

Baldwin: The Highlanders just keep winning. Add two wins to the total this week for Baldwin: 5-4 over Franklin Regional on Monday and 5-1 against Moon on Thursday. The Highlanders are 11-0 and kept pace with Latrobe as Class AA’s unbeaten teams. Latrobe is 12-0 in the Southeast Division. Baldwin has games against Penn-Trafford, Armstrong and Latrobe remaining this month.

Norwin: The Knights defeated Freeport by a wide margin this past week, and with the victory, continue to push toward clinching a spot in a competitive Southeast Division. Norwin leads the Southeast with 22 points at 11-2, one-point head of Bishop McCort, which, at 10-2-1, has 21 points. Greensburg Salem is still in the hunt with 17 points.

Neshannock: Carrick had lost once heading into this intra-division matchup in Class B on Monday night. When all was said and done, it was the Lancers picking up a victory to pull further ahead in the North Division with 22 points.

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