Virag leads Team Blue stars to win in PIHL Class 2A all-star game
By: Joe Sager
Sunday, January 27, 2019 | 8:21 PM
Normally, Olda Virag is used to helping Danny Soltesz keep pucks out of the Franklin Regional goal.
On Sunday, the senior forward put a couple past his Panthers teammate at the PIHL Class 2A All-Star game at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center.
“It was a fun time, considering I got to play against Danny (Soltesz) and (Mathieu) Sliva, two guys I am usually playing with. There was a little competitive spirit out there between all of us,” Virag said. “There were a couple guys out there I knew from travel hockey, but it was nice to meet some new guys and play with them, too.”
With the all-star rosters featuring a mix of players from various schools, Virag had little trouble adjusting. He found the back of the net four times — the first coming 9 seconds into the contest — to lead his Team Blue to a 13-10 victory over Team Gold.
“It was fun. There were a lot of good, skilled players out there,” Virag said. “Everybody had their heads up, and no one was being selfish with the puck. There were a lot of good passes and goals and that’s how it should be, I think.”
Quaker Valley’s Josh Bemis and Armstrong’s Gio Romeo pushed the early advantage to 3-0.
“It was a blast being out here with such talented players and a couple teammates,” Bemis said. “It wasn’t super competitive, but it was still a great hockey game and tons of fun. The first couple shifts, we jumped on them, and they closed back in and it was just a great game after that.”
Team Gold marched back when Moon’s David Pawuk broke the shutout with 4 minutes, 43 seconds left in the period. Hampton’s Michael Orban capped a give-and-go with a goal with 6.5 seconds left on the clock. Upper St. Clair’s Quinn Giacobbe tied the score 3-3 47 seconds into the second period on a wrister.
Penn-Trafford’s Ben Leslie put Team Blue back up 4-3. Latrobe’s Cole Ferri roofed a puck to knot the score at 4-4 with 10:25 left in the second. Penn-Trafford’s Gavin Patrick buried a pass from in front of the net to give Team Gold a 5-4 lead with 1:58 to go. Virag’s second goal made it 5-5 with 53.8 seconds on the clock.
Romeo’s shot deflected off a stick and into the net for a 6-5 Team Blue lead 35 seconds into the third. Orban jammed in a loose puck during a scramble in front of the net to knot the score at 6-6 with 12:58 to play. Pine-Richland’s Brandon Kashur deflected a puck into the net 1:16 later, but Penn-Trafford’s Jack Hughes restored a tie, 7-7, nine seconds after that.
Team Blue gained some separation when Hampton’s Justin Adamski and Virag scored 31 seconds apart for a 9-7 advantage with 10:15 to go. Penn-Trafford’s Seth Poziviak made it a 10-7 lead with 7:07 left.
Patrick halted Team Blue’s run when he lifted in his own rebound to trim the Team Gold’s deficit to 10-8 with 5:43 remaining. Virag netted his fourth for an 11-8 Team Blue lead with 3:26 to play. Mars senior Jackson Krock pushed the lead to 12-8 just 33 seconds later.
Giacobbe tallied for Team Gold with 1:32 left. Bemis capped the Team Blue scoring with 26.3 to go. Plum’s A.J. Adamski added the final goal for Team Blue.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.