MT. LEBANON, Pa. — Every playoff game needs a hero. When the No. 6 seed South Fayette Lions knocked off the No. 11 Seed Chartiers Valley Colts, 6-3 in their opening round game of the PIHL Class A playoffs, that hero was Ian Kumar.
Kumar put up three goals, all coming in the third period to cap off a special performance that advanced his team to the first round of playoffs on Thursday.
The feeling of playoff hockey was in the air as the teams got off to a physical start, feeling each other out. Early in the game, the Colts were trying to establish themselves in the physical game while the Lions were stuffing the stat sheet. South Fayette was able to notch the first seven shots of the game, keeping Chartiers Valley away from the goal for the first 12: 33.
Turnovers in the neutral zone and blocked shots were the keys to the game, and were what guided South Fayette to finish with a 31-15 edge in shots.
However, it only takes one, and on the third shot of the game, Chartiers Valley was able to get off to a 1-0 lead, with a little over two minutes to go in the first period. The lead did not last, however. The Lions turned it back up and tied the game just 13 seconds later off of the stick of defenseman Augue Bishop.
The physical nature of the playoff game ramped up in the second period as five penalties were committed between the two teams, three coming on the South Fayette end. Still, the teams traded goals, and the longest lead of the first two periods lasted just 1:13 as Dante Cecere scored to put South Fayette up 2-1, but Michael Sedlak tied the game quickly after on a breakaway.
Tied up at two with just 17 minutes of regulation to play, Ian Kumar stepped up to the challenge of being the playoff hero. His first goal came 8:13 into the third period, putting his team up 3-2. Kumar collected a turnover, waited out the goalie and found himself with an easy stuff in.
After once again tying the game just 1:19 later, Kumar had enough and finally stomped out Chartiers Valley, scoring the next two goals. His third goal came with just 55 seconds to play and essentially sealed the game, as he gave his team a 5-3 lead. A cheap goal late extended the lead and showed the final score to look closer to the stat sheet.
South Fayette is moving on to the quarterfinals in class Single-A, where the Lions will take on No. 3 seed Thomas Jefferson.
That game will be played Thursday night at Rostraver Ice Gardens.