Trib HSSN’s PIHL Team of the Week: Montour Spartans
By: Kyle Dawson
Sunday, January 13, 2019 | 7:57 PM
“Everything was clicking.”
Those were the words Clay Shell used to summarize Montour’s 13-1 win over North Hills on Jan. 7. It was a win against an Indians’ team that is in fourth place in the Class A North Division.
The Spartans hadn’t played since Dec. 17, when they picked up a win over West Allegheny, the second-place team in the North Division,.
“I thought we looked a little slow and rusty at the beginning of the game Monday,” said Shell. “It wasn’t what it usually has been at the start. About six or seven minutes in though, I thought we really turned it on. Then the machine was rolling.”
The Spartans netted the game’s first goal 33 seconds in off the stick of Ryan Eisel, assisted by Ritchy Froehlich Jr. and Dustin Gergerich. But about two minutes later, North Hills’ Liam O’Neill tied the score.
The tie didn’t last long, as 17 seconds later, Michael Felsing scored from Froehlich and Austin Schaltenbrand, for the winning goal.
From there, it was all Montour.
The next 11 goals were scored by Anthony Migliozzi and Thomas Gollob, who had two, Froehlich, who had a hat trick, Preston Muha. Presley Robb, Joseph Bickel and a second from Eisel.
Seven of the goals came in the second period on 10 shots.
“At a certain point, it didn’t look like we’d been off two weeks,” said Shell. “Once we were where we were in the second period, I just told our guys in the locker room that it was enough. I’m of the old-school mentality that we don’t want to run up the score.”
Zachary O’Malley had 17 saves, while, according to Shell, Montour’s defense played one of its better games.
“O’Malley made some big saves, and it’s never about the personal stats for him. He just wants to win,” Shell said. “Phil Juzwick played his best game of the year defensively. After we shut it down and started to go north, there were some great outlet passes from our defensemen. Even some of the younger guys were moving the puck north fast, blocking shots and keeping everything outside.”
The more impressive thing, for Shell, might have been the performance of Froehlich, the senior captain of the Spartans, who had three goals and five assists.
“Ritchy was on fire,” said Shell.
For the second time this season, Froehlich was named the TribLIVE High School Sports Network’s PIHL Player of the Week for his effort in the victory.
Froehlich’s eight points put him in second among Class A scoring leaders behind only Meadville’s Nick Frantz, who has 49 points this season. Froehlich, while he has eight more assists than Frantz and leads the classification in helpers, is still two points behind Frantz, with 47 total on the campaign.
Monday was also Montour’s senior recognition night, and Froehlich said that gave his team a little extra fire against a good North Hills team.
“They were a great team,” said Froehlich. “I just think our lines have an uncanny chemistry. We can make plays by just knowing where guys will be.”
The 13-goal outburst matched the Spartans’ best output this season: Montour defeated Freeport 13-4 on Dec. 6.
Montour’s Team of the Week honor comes along with having five players named to the PIHL All Star Game, as defensemen Dustin Geragach and Ethan Diffendal and forwards Bickel, Felsing and Froehlich, were announced Wednesday as members.
The max number of players allowed in for each Single A team is five, but the Spartans had a few more who could have been selected, according to Shell.
“It was awesome to see that we got five in,” said Shell. “In the end, we’re really here for the Pens Cup, but having all five go is awesome. It’s just one of those years.”
Montour’s attention turns to a game against Beaver on Thursday, before a Jan. 21 matchup with Sewickley Academy. The game Thursday is slated for a 6:45 p.m. puck drop at Brady’s Run Park Ice Arena.
PIHL Honorable Mentions (Week Of December 7):
Peters Township won a battle against North Allegheny to pull into a tie for first place in Class AAA, but lost Mt. Lebanon on Thursday. The Indians (10-3) will play Seneca Valley on Tuesday, and the Tigers (10-3) are idle until Thursday, when they play Bethel Park.
Mt. Lebanon won two games, including the aforementioned game against Peters Township. The Blue Devils also picked up a win, 5-0, against Seneca Valley on Monday.
Upper St. Clair came from two goals down after two periods to defeat Franklin Regional 7-6 Monday, and moved into a tie for first place in Double-A’s Southwest Division.
Hempfield scored 12 goals in a thrashing of Plum.
Kyle Dawson is a freelance writer.