Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

PIHL

Hardman’s heroics lead South Fayette past TJ to conference crown

MT. LEBANON, Pa. — Entering play Monday, Thomas Jefferson needed to defeat South Fayette for first place in the PIHL Class-A South conference.

However South Fayette held serve, knocking off the Jaguars, 5-2, and clinching the top spot in the conference.

TJ came out on fire, out-shooting the Lions by a 10-1 margin, but South Fayette goaltender Bruce Hardman was up to the task, keeping the Jaguars off the board. It was nearly the same story in the second period, as Hardman battled away another lopsided shot total. The shots were 20-4 TJ after two periods, but South Fayette did find the back of the net when Ian Kumar scored his 18th goal of the season on a penalty shot.

In the final frame, South Fayette build a 3-0 lead, but the Jaguars kept fighting, drawing back to within a goal when Hunter Fairman fooled Hardman to make it 3-2 with 3:24 to play.

But Dan Pollock beat TJ goaltender Luciano Ripepi less than minute later, and the Lions escaped with a conference-clinching victory.

South Fayette (16-2, 32 points) will host eighth-seeded Blackhawk in the first round of the PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs. Thomas Jefferson (14-3, 28 points) has clinched the second seed because Bishop McCort (13-3, 26 points) is ineligible for the postseason. The Jaguars are scheduled to play Wheeling Park in their regular-season finale on Wednesday before hosting seventh-seed Freeport in the first round of the playoffs.

MITCH’S PICS (FULL GALLERY)

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