NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — Nicholas Benvenuti had three goals and two assists and Giovanni Romeo registered a hat trick as the Armstrong RiverHawks cruised past the Upper St. Clair Panthers, 11-4 in their PIHL Double-A semifinal at RMU Island Sports Center.
The Panthers jumped out of the gate with an immense offensive attack only to watch the RiverHawks get a goal from Jesse Toy off a faceoff. Romeo made it 2-0 1:43 later, and Benvenuti followed Romeo’s goal with one of his own 2:34 after that. Romeo then collected a pass behind the Panthers’ defenders and gave the RiverHawks a 4-0 lead heading into the first break.
The second period brought no better luck for the Panthers, as Jesse Gross and Zachary Kutch scored 43 seconds apart to give Armstrong a 6-0 lead, and just after a Joseph Pulit goal broke Ryan Bowser’s shutout opportunity, Romeo tapped a rebound in past a sprawling Anthony Petito to give the RiverHawks a 7-1 advantage. Devin Rohrich collected a tap-in goal to make it 7-2, and scoring would subside for a seven minute stretch until Benvenuti registered his own breakaway goal at 15:12. Sam Sweet’s response for Upper St. Clair was short-lived, as Benvenuti finished the second hat-trick for the RiverHawks 16 seconds later.
Kutch registered his second goal of the game early in the third, giving Benvenuti his fifth point of the game.
Armstrong heads to UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Tuesday, Mar. 20 for a matchup with the winner of Quaker Valley-Pine Richland. Faceoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.