Oct. 25: Burrell defeated Ringgold 4-2 at Rostraver Ice Garden
Ringgold and Burrell had a back-and-forth contest that saw the two teams deadlocked 2-2 by the end of the first frame. Justin Day gave the Rams a 1-0 lead halfway through the first, only to watch Dylan Zelonka and Logan Schoepf fire off two goals before Ryan Marek tied things up late in the period. After a slow second period, the Bucs found their scoring touch, getting two goals from leading scorer Tyler Stewart en-route to the final.
The two netminders were phenomenal in the matchup, with Andrew Burkett stopping 51-of-53 shots and Evan Cook finishing 34-of-38.
Dec. 17: Burrell defeated Ringgold 7-6 at Frozen Pond Arena
The shots turned to goals in the second matchup, as Ringgold jumped out to a 4-0 lead as Zach Kalinowsli and Bradley Budjos found the back of the net, and the Bucs responded late with a goal from Zelonka. Stewart scored with just under 7 to go in the second, with Stephen Yezovich and Giovanni Palombo cutting the Rams lead slowly to nothing before Stewart gave the Bucs a 5-4 lead late. Schoepf gave Burrell its first two-goal lead before Day and Palombo exchanged tallies. Budjos finished his hat-trick with just under four minutes to play.
The goaltenders had a day they’d like to forget, as Cook stopped 35-of-42 and Burkett 16-of-22.
Burrell defeated Connellsville
Ringgold defeated Neshannock
ODDS AND ENDS
These two teams like to play a wide-open style and shoot the puck- a lot. Defense is at a premium in Division-2, and these two teams run a shoot-first mentality that led them to the No. 1 (Burrell, 7.55 goals per game) and No. 2 (Ringgold (5.90 GPG) scoring teams in the classification. On the flip side of that coin, they also ranked No. 3 (Ringgold at 2.45 goals-against per game) and No.4 Burrell (2.60 GAPG) in defense, so the two teams are equipped to score- and stop- goals.
Burrell led D2 with a 43% power-play efficiency. Ringgold was No. 2 at 30%. Burrell finished fourth in the penalty-kill with 79.3%, Ringgold finished ninth, killing only 76% of the penalties they took.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN
This is a juicy matchup. On paper, Burrell gets an edge. Burrell and Ringgold can both score, both have goaltending, and are both hungry for the title – Burrell lost to a loaded Moon club 7-4 in last years D2 final, and in that process upset No. 2 Ringgold 6-4 in the semi-final. Ringgold needs to stay out of the box, focus on beating Burkett and stopping the Burrell offense in the process- a tall task for most, but one that the Rams are equipped for. Burrell needs to keep their composure and solve Evan Cook.
Verdict: This years championship contenders are closer than ever. Both teams have the title in their grasp, this ones going to come down to the age-old theory of who wants it more.