CASTLE SHANNON, Pa. — Undefeated seasons are elusive, especially in hockey. Such a winning streak could end at a moment’s notice. That moment belonged to West Allegheny Indians forward Nick Bandi, who scored two goals in the third period to give his team the 4-3 win over the Baldwin Highlanders Monday night at Ice Castle Arena. Josh Ferry shut the door in the third period, ending the night with 43 saves to earn his 13th win of the season.
Keith Reed gave Baldwin the electric start they hoped would carry them to a 16th straight win on the season with a short handed goal less than five minutes into the first period. Taking advantage of Josh Ferry leaving the crease to retrieve the puck, Reed intercepted the pass and fired it into the back of the net for the 1-0 Highlander lead. Just a minute later, though, Shane Nolan tied the game 1-1 for West Allegheny. After a Nick Sweet goal was waived off due to high-sticking with 3:45 remaining in the first, penalties began to fly. With Sweet (tripping) and teammate Tyler Morgan (elbowing) in the box for West Allegheny and Baldwin’s Carson Kress in for roughing, Trevor Belak sniped a shot over the shoulder of Ferry to give Baldwin another lead, 2-1, with just 11 seconds left in the period on the 4-on-3 power play.
The teams swapped goals late in the second period with Jake Scholz scoring at 12:44 and Justin Pollard notching a power play goal for Baldwin less than a minute later.
Nick Bandi scored at 9:51 of the third period to tie the game 3-3 and added the winning goal with just 2:20 remaining. Josh Ferry slammed the door after Baldwin pulled Tanner Cindrich for the extra attacker, and the Indians jumped all over Ferry as they took down the Highlanders, 4-3, ending their bid for an undefeated season.
Tanner Cindrich saved 31 out of 35 shots on goal in the loss.
The win was an important one for West Allegheny, as the Indians hope to avoid a play-in game for the playoffs with Montour, who is idle this week. West Allegheny improved to 13-4 and will host Franklin Regional in the regular-season finale on Monday, Feb. 17 at the RMU Island Sports Center at 7:15 p.m.
Baldwin has two games remaining on the season. They will travel to the RMU Island Sports Center on Feb. 17 as well to play Montour at 9:15 p.m. The Highlanders will finish their season at home at Ice Castle Arena on Monday, Feb. 24 against South Fayette at 7 p.m.
Montour will finish their season on Feb. 24 at Center Ice Arena against Penn-Trafford at 7:20 p.m.
MAJOR FOCUS: HIGHLANDERS FALL, UNDEFEATED SEASON ENDS (FULL GALLERY)