Here is our continuing coverage of Week 12 of the 2018-19 PIHL season, brought to you by Ed Major II, Jared Todhunter, and the rest of the Pittsburgh Hockey Digest Staff.
THURSDAY, DEC. 20
KITTANNING, PA. – Jared Todhunter was at the Belmont for single-A coverage of Freeport vs. North Hills.
NORTH HILLS 4, FREEPORT 1
Coming into the game the Freeport Yellowjackets (5-6) were 2 points behind the North Hills Indians (7-4) in PIHL Single-A standings. Sean Fennell (5-6 GAA: 6.11 SV%: 0.813) got the start in goal for the Yellowjackets. Ethan Islay (5-4 GAA: 2.42 SV%: 0.924) got the start for the Indians.
The first period saw two very even teams and perfect goaltending as no one was able to find the back of the net. Freeport had 10 shots on goal, while North Hills had 11.
The physical play picked up a bit in the second, seeing 8 penalties. The Indians kept their foot on the gas while cracking down defensively, only allowing the Yellowjackets 2 shots on goal for the period compared to North Hills 15. Still, no one could find twine.
After two periods of solid play by Fennell, and a lot of shots faced (26), North Hill’s Liam O’Neill got the ball rolling just 50 seconds into the third for his first of the night. Alex Kraus (1:58) and Ian Keller (3:18) would quickly follow in O’Neill’s footsteps giving the Indians a 3-0 lead. Paul Zecca would get one back for the Yellowjackets at 5:04, giving his team and student section some life. Both teams kept a steady flow of players to the penalty box for the remainder of the game, but Freeport had issues getting pucks toward the net. Liam O’Neill found an empty net, shot from his teams red line, for his second of the game at 16:48.
North Hills ended the night going 0 for 6 on the powerplay. Islay stopped 16 of 17 shots on goal. Fennell ended his night stopping 32 of 35 shots on goal while the Yellowjackets went 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
(Note: North Hill’s Liam O’Neill leads all defenseman in goals for Single-A with 12)
TUESDAY, DEC. 18
CECIL TWP., Pa. — Matt Gajtka brings you Peters Township hockey from Printscape Arena on our Facebook page!
PETERS TOWNSHIP 6, PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC 2
FIRST AND SECOND PERIOD
MONDAY, DEC. 17
WARRENDALE, Pa. — Ed Major took in a(nother) triple-header at Baierl Ice Complex.
FRANKLIN REGIONAL 8, QUAKER VALLEY 7
The opening act of the night set the Franklin Regional Panthers (7-3-2) against the Quaker Valley Quakers (2-9-1). The Quakers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on a power play goal by Kevin Guerrieri and and even strength goal by Cole Musser. Kevin Cakanac cut the deficit in half for the Panthers with less than two minutes to go in the first period, but Joshua Bemis scored just 1:50 into the second to give Quaker Valley a 3-1 lead.
It was clear the Panthers were not going away quietly, as they scored three goals by Kyler Mccoy, Ben Newell, and Trent Lunden. Daniel Fagan tied the game 4-4 for the Quakers before Lunden got his second oft he game to close out the second period.
Guerrieri got his second of the game for Quaker Valley to tie it 5-5, but Franklin Regional once more put up three goals – from two new scorers – when Kevin Cakanac got his second of the game and Mathieu Sliva and Luke Beatty joined the party. Andrew Bablak scored as the extra attacker and Guerrieri notched a hat trick, but the comeback fell short as the Quakers fell, 8-7.
Daniel Soltesz made 18 saves on 25 shots for the Panthers, while his Quaker counterpart, Colin Rice, saved 23 out of 31.
MARS 6, PENN-TRAFFORD 3
The Mars Planets (10-2) and Penn-Trafford Warriors (5-6) were itching to get out of the gate as soon as they could, with neither team wasting any time. John Sieber scored just 18 seconds in for the Warriors, while Zachary Koerbel jammed a loose puck in front of the net into the back to tie the game 30 seconds in. Benjamin Leslie added a second PT goal 44 seconds later, but it wasn’t until the 12:52 mark of the first that Jackson Krock tied the game 2-2.
More quick scoring opened the second period, with William Foley tallying a power play goal for Mars to take the lead. Teammate Hunter Riemer added another Planets goal four minutes later to add to the Mars lead.
Leslie got his second of the game for Penn-Trafford to cut the Planets’ lead to a single goal early in the third, but an even-strength goal by Hunter Riemer and a short-handed empty net goal by Krock gave the Mars Planets the 6-3 victory. Each team went 1-for-6 on the power play as there were 19 total penalties called.
MONTOUR 7, WEST ALLEGHENY 4
The marquee matchup of the night featured the division-leading Montour Spartans (11-0) against the second-place West Allegheny Indians (9-2). The Spartans took the first game of the season series on October 8, 6-3. The Indians were led by PHD’s Brozone Goaltender of the Month for November, Joshua Ferry, who entered the game allowing only 2 goals on 67 shots in three games during the month of November. Unfortunately, he would not be able to continue that success against a Montour team that leads Class-A in goals scored with 93. The Spartans certainly showed why they held that lead, as Ryan Eisel put a goal past Ferry just 36 seconds in. Michael Felsing got one to trickle over the line a couple minutes later and Richard Froehlich added one of his own to give his team a 3-0 lead. An interesting Burgh Hockey note: that third goal was assisted by senior defenseman Ethan Diffendal, younger brother of current Robert Morris sophomore forward Anjelica Diffendal and former Duquesne Forward Thomas Diffendal, who graduated in 2018. Montour looked to control the game for most of the first period, putting the Indians in an unfamiliar scenario of playing from behind. While it took time for them to adjust, West Allegheny managed to net two goals at the end of the first period by Maxwell Petrone and Nicholas Sweet.
Eisel added his second of the game for Montour a few minutes into the second period and teammate Dustin Geregach scored two to give the Spartans a 6-2 lead. West Allegheny tightened up in the third, allowing only a single goal to Thomas Gollob, which was sandwiched between two goals by their own Nicholas Bandi.
Ferry made several key saves to try and keep his team in the game as much as he could, but the Indians ultimately fell, 7-4. Ferry still holds a 0.125 GAA and 0.938 SV%, with three shutouts this season. He saved 34 out of 41 shots for West Allegheny, good for a 0.829 SV%. His Montour counterpart, Zachary Omalley, saved 20 out of 24 shots.
NEW KENSINGTON, PA — Jared Todhunter took in a Class-AA matchup at Pittsburgh Ice Arena between the Plum Mustangs and the Armstrong Riverhawks.
PLUM 5, ARMSTRONG 2
This matchup saw the past two Class-AA champions when the Plum Mustangs (3-6-2) hosted the Armstrong Riverhawks (2-9). The Mustangs dressed 15 players, six of them being on the 2017 championship roster. Out of 16 players dressed for the Riverhawks, eight were listed on the roster for their 2018 championship run. Included on the list of returners for the Riverhawks was starting goaltender Ryan Bowser (2-9, 4.96 GAA, 0.862 SV%), while Joseph Miller (2-4, 3.36 GAA ,0.876 SV%) started between the pipes for the Mustangs. Both teams have struggled so far this season as they sit at the bottom of the standings in their respective divisions.
The Riverhawks got on the board first at 5:47 og the opening period off the stick of Jacob Townsend. Plum’s Logan Schlegel had a chance to tie the game at 13:36 when Bowser was out of position in goal but the shot ended up going wide. Aside from the missed chance by Plum, Bowser stopped a total of 18 shots on goal to keep the lead for Armstrong heading into the second.
The Mustangs continued the pressure in the second, finally finding a way past the Riverhawks goaltender when Donovan Palmer tied the game at 5:17 of the period. Logan Schlegel found the back of the net to give the Mustangs their first lead of the game with 51 seconds to play in the period.
The third period saw both teams up the physical play (8 total penalties), desperate to get the win and turn their seasons around. Maddox Rearic tied the game for the Riverhawks less than five minutes in, but Plum’s powerplay unit, currently 3rd in the league at 25.9%, broke the tie not long after when Nicholas Pushic jammed the puck through the legs of Bowser off a rebound at the 6:23 mark of the third. Pushic got his second of the night at 12:27 and Schlegel found the empty net to finish the scoring with his second goal of the game with nine seconds to play to seal the 5-2 win for the Mustangs.
Plum’s Joseph Miller ended the night stopping 29 of 31 shots on goal and Armstrong’s Ryan Bowser stopped 32 of 36. Maddox Rearic goal is his 4th of the season making him Armstrong’s leader in points with eight. Plum’s point leader Anthony Adamski (19 pts) recorded three assists in the contest while helping the Mustangs go 1-for-2 on the powerplay. The Riverhawks ended the night going 0-for-6 with the man advantage. Up next for the Mustangs will be game 3 of a 4 game homestand when they host Southeast leader Hempfield on January 7. The Riverhawks will travel to Baierl Ice Complex to face Northwest contender Mars on January 3rd.