WARRENDALE, pa — The Mars Planets (11-2) hosted the defending Penguins Cup champion Armstrong Riverhawks (2-9-1) Thursday night at Baierl Ice Complex. The Planets looked to keep pace with Pine-Richland, sitting two points behind the Rams in the Northwest standings prior to the contest. Meanwhile, Armstrong hoped to push past Quaker Valley and Shaler to grab the fifth playoff spot in the division.
Armstrong came out of the gate determined to take that final playoff spot, looking more like a team that had won 20 games through the first half of the season instead of two. The Riverhawks scored just over halfway into the first on a goal by Jacob Townsend to take the 1-0 lead. They did not make it easy on themselves to defend that lead, however, as they were forced to kill two penalties back-to-back to end the first period.
Halfway through the second period, the Riverhawks again took two penalties just 17 seconds apart to give the Planets a 5-on-3 advantage. That advantage did not last long however, as two Mars roughing penalties, and one Armstrong roughing penalty, were called just 28 seconds into the two-man advantage. 18 seconds later, on the 4-on-3 advantage for the Planets, Mars tied the game 1-1. With just under two minutes to play, Mars forward Hudson Finn was called for slashing on a Riverhawk breakaway, giving Armstrong a penalty shot, which Maddox Rearic promptly put into the back of the net to give his team the advantage once more.
William Foley tied the game again 2-2 for Mars just 45 seconds into the third period. It took until the 9:44 mark of the third for Rearic to score his second of the game to tie it 3-3. After a scoreless overtime where Armstrong goaltender Ryan Bowser continued to stand on his head, the teams headed for a shootout, where Mars took advantage with their fifth shooter and won 2-1, taking the final 4-3 victory.
Bowser stopped 51 out of 54 shots in the overtime loss. Daniel Mitchell stopped 25 out of 28 for the Planets.
MAJOR FOCUS: Mars pulls into tie for Northeast division lead with victory over Armstrong (FULL GALLERY)