HARMAR TWP., Pa — The 2018 PIHL St. Margaret Fall Faceoff continued on Wednesday with comebacks and blowouts alike. Franklin Regional opened the night against Greater Latrobe. After falling to a 4-1 deficit, the Panthers rallied to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 1 with just under two minutes to play. The Panthers then took the lead, 5-4, with two goals in the next 30 seconds and took the victory.
In the USA rink, Pittsburgh Central Catholic needed a win in order to clinch Pool D, thanks to the aforementioned Franklin Regional win over Greater Latrobe. The Vikings took a quick 3-0 in the first period over Canon-McMillan and looked as if they were easily bound for a win. Canon-McMillan seemed to have other ideas as they attempted a rally. Late in the second period, sophomore goaltender Mario Eafrati made two beautiful desperation saves to keep the deficit at three. In the third, sophomore defenseman Corey Passieu scored twice to cut the Viking’s lead to one, but the Big Macs were unable to find the equalizer and fell, 3-2.
Mars entered their third preseason game having scored 13 goals over the previous two games. Seneca Valley, on the other hand, was coming off of a 51 loss to Bethel Park on Monday and a 3-2 loss to Shaler on Tuesday. The Raiders were simply hoping to get their first win, while Mars had already clinched Pool B and was looking to sweep their group stage of the tournament. The game was scoreless through most of the third period until senior forward Will Foley finally broke the scoreless tie late in the period. That proved to be the game winner, as well as insurance goals by freshman Wes Scurci (who also had an assist on Foley’s goal) and senior forward Zack Koerbel. Koerbel’s goal had been awarded to him by the officials after he was tripped on his way to the empty net.
With Mars having completed the sweep and Seneca Valley having been swept, it was up to the two remaining 1-1-0 teams in the pool to determine who would get their second win. As it turned out, neither one would, as Bethel Park and Shaler battled to a 1-1 tie.
The penultimate matchup of the night featured the North Allegheny Tigers’ high-powered offense against the Armstrong River Hawks. The Tigers certainly came out roaring with a quick 4-1 lead. Later in the second, they added one more insurance goal. This proved to be too much for the River Hawks, as they were also outpaced on shots. North Allegheny put up over 40 shots on the Armstrong goaltender. The River Hawks themselves could barely muster 15. North Allegheny was one win away from securing the Pool A spot in the semifinals.
The final game, between Baldwin and Hampton, proved to be just as exciting as the first five. Baldwin wasted no time scoring, as they got onto the board within the first 30 seconds. Unfortunately for the Highlanders, that was all they could muster, as the Talbots put up four goals to seal the win. While Hampton had already been eliminated after North Allegheny’s win over Armstrong, the Talbots were still determined to get all of the experience they could possibly get before their regular season opener.
On Thursday, with three of the four pools won, only the Baldwin-North Allegheny matchup was the game that mattered to the standings. Baldwin, having defeated Armstrong on Tuesday but falling to Hampton on Wednesday, needed a win and a Hampton loss to clinch Pool A. North Allegheny, on the other hand, needed no help beyond a win over Baldwin to move on in the tournament. The Tigers completed their three-game sweep by defeating the Highlanders, 2-0.
In other news on Thursday, Hampton finished the tournament 2-1-0 by defeating Armstrong, 3-2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic, who had clinched Pool D on Wednesday, fell to Latrobe, 5-3. Franklin Regional defeated Canon-McMillan, 6-3, to finish tied in the standings with Central Catholic. However, the Panthers lost the tiebreaker to Central Catholic since they were defeated by the Vikings, 5-4, Monday night. Upper St. Clair defeated Butler, 7-6, and the Pine-Richland Rams got into the football season spirit against Montour, defeating them 14-3.
STANDINGS (as of Friday, September 14, 2018)
North Allegheny: 3-0
Bethel Park: 1-1-1
Seneca Valley: 0-3
Upper St. Clair: 2-1
Pittsburgh Central Catholic: 2-1
Franklin Regional: 2-1
Greater Latrobe: 1-1-1
North Allegheny has clinched Pool A and will face Mars, who clinched Pool B, at 5:00 PM on Monday, September 17, 2018 at Alpha Ice Complex. Pine-Richland and Pittsburgh Central Catholic have clinched Pool C and Pool D, respectively, and will also face each other on Monday at 5:00 PM at Alpha Ice Complex.
More information on games and rules regarding the St. Margaret Fall Faceoff can be found here.