What to watch for in Western Pa. sports for March 4, 2024: PIHL quarterfinals on tap

Sunday, March 3, 2024 | 9:39 PM

With temps climbing into the 70’s the next few days, it’s a perfect time to think…ice hockey and the quarterfinals of the PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs.

The league has scheduled 16 quarterfinal playoff games into two days with 12 of them taking place Monday.

There will be a lot of eyes on the Class 3A playoffs since there was little separation all season.

Only one point separated the top four teams with an eight-point difference between the fifth-place finisher, Mt. Lebanon, and the ninth-place finisher, Cathedral Prep, which missed the postseason by only two points.

Top-seeded Pine-Richland was in fourth place coming into the final week of the regular season and thanks to wins over Bethel Park and Central Catholic, the Rams jumped a Seneca Valley team that had been on top for most of the regular season.

A winner of seven straight, Pine-Richland (15-4-1) will host Bethel Park (9-10-1) once again at the World rink at the Baierl Ice Complex in Warrendale at 8:30 p.m. in a game on Trib HSSN.

When the two teams met last week, the Rams edged the Black Hawks, 5-3.

The two other 3A games Monday are Mt. Lebanon (12-7-1) vs. Seneca Valley (15-5) at 7 p.m., followed by Central Catholic (10-9-1) facing North Allegheny (14-4-2) at 9 p.m.

Both games will be played at the Galaxy rink at the Baierl Ice Complex and can be seen on Trib HSSN.

2A champs begin defense

South Fayette captured its first PIHL Penguins Cup championship last season, winning the 2A crown.

The Lions finished the regular season as co-champions with Thomas Jefferson with 36 points each; however, the Jaguars had one more win and thus earned the top seed.

The green and white’s title defense begins Monday when South Fayette (17-1-2) squares off with Penn-Trafford (7-9-4) at Mt. Lebanon Ice Arena at 7:10 p.m.

The two teams met a month ago with the Lions beating the Warriors, 4-1.

The other two 2A quarterfinals contests Monday include Fox Chapel (11-8-1) taking on Norwin (11-7-2) at Palmer Imaging Arena-East in Delmont at 7 p.m. on Trib HSSN.

Only one game separated these two teams in the fight for fourth place.

The other two games include Franklin Regional (10-7-3) against Latrobe (13-7) at Kirk Nevin in Greensburg at 7:15 p.m. and top-seeded Thomas Jefferson battling Hempfield at the Ice Castle in Castle Shannon at 7 p.m.

Second round of PIHL Class A

The 2024 PIHL Penguins Cup Class A postseason got a head start with four first-round games last week.

Those four winners take on the top four seeds that enjoyed byes last week.

Quaker Valley (16-3-1) won the Gold Division by one point over Shaler (15-3-2). Those two teams are part of a doubleheader Monday at the RMU Island Sports Complex on Neville Island and on Trib HSSN.

The Quakers will battle Greensburg Salem (13-5-2) at 7:15 p.m. while the Titans will tango with Avonworth (16-3-1) at 9:15 p.m.

The other quarterfinals contest in Class A Monday night has Moon (11-9) challenging undefeated Chartiers Valley (22-0) at Mt. Lebanon Ice Arena at 9:10 p.m.

Puck drops on D-2 playoffs

Two of the four Division 2 high school hockey playoff games will be played Monday.

Top-seeded Bishop Canevin will go up against Connellsville at the Ice Castle in Castle Shannon at 9 p.m. while Burrell hosts Morgantown (W.Va.) at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington at 8 p.m.

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