What to watch for in Western Pa. sports for March 11, 2024: PIHL semifinals commence

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Sunday, March 10, 2024 | 9:49 PM


The PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs begin the week-long Final Four games at the RMU Island Sports Complex on Neville Island and on Trib HSSN.

The winners head to the championship game next week while the losers pack their gear until next season.

Monday features the two Class 3A semifinals.

Going for 3 straight

Top-seeded Pine-Richland won its last seven games of the regular season, including two in the final week, to leapfrog three teams and finish in first place by only one point ahead of the other three semifinalists.

In the first semifinal game of the week, Pine-Richland (15-4-1) will battle defending champion Peters Township (14-4-2) at 7:15 p.m. on HSSN.

These two teams squared off twice this year, and both times the Indians knocked off the Rams.

In the season opener way Oct. 5, Peters Township edged Pine-Richland, 3-2.

In the rematch before the holidays Dec. 19, the Indians beat the Rams, 6-2.

Peters Township has won back-to-back Penguins Cup 3A titles while the last cup captured by Pine-Richland was the 2019 2A championship.

In the quarterfinals last Monday, Pine-Richland defeated Bethel Park, 3-1. A.J. Verszyla had a goal and Carson Verszyla added an assist for the Rams.

The next night, Peters Township squeaked by rival Upper St. Clair, 3-2 in overtime. Camden Martin scored his second goal of the game for the OT winner for the Indians.

Northern rivals collide

In the second game of the 3A semifinals doubleheader, rivals collide when North Allegheny (14-4-2) battles Seneca Valley (15-5) at 9:15 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Thanks to a four-game winning streak, the Tigers caught the first-place Raiders in the final week, only to have Pine-Richland jump over both of them.

NA and SV finished in a three-way tie for second place with Peters Township, one point behind the Rams in one of the closest races in PIHL history.

The two teams split one-goal games this season, with the Raiders winning in November, 3-2, while the Tigers picked up a big victory in late February, 4-3.

In the 3A quarterfinals last Monday, North Allegheny defeated Central Catholic, 3-1. Ryan Jackman had two goals and an assist for the Tigers.

That same night, Seneca Valley blanked Mt. Lebanon, 4-0. Cenzo Ditullio made 16 saves for the Raiders’ shutout.

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