HARMAR TWP., Pa. — Austin Tonkovich played a role in all three goals – two goals and one assist – for the No. 14 Pitt Panthers (23-2, 10-1 CHMA) to defeat the IUP Hawks (14-10-1, 6-5-1 CHMA) 3-2 Saturday night at Alpha Ice Complex. All three goals came after the Panthers fell behind, 2-0, midway through the first period.
After Cole Flory and Brendan George scored less than three minutes apart for the Hawks, the Panthers found themselves in a familiar position. Pitt has conceded the first goal of the game in three of their last four games. Each time, the Panthers were leading after the second period and Matt Snader shut the door in the third to secure the win. Saturday night was the same story. Tonkovich fired a shot from the blue line less than a minute and a half after IUP’s second goal to put the Panthers on the board. A power play goal by Alex Crilley midway through the second – assisted by Tonkovich – and a second goal from Tonkovich himself just four minutes later gave Pitt a 3-2 lead they did not relinquish. Matt Snader, as usual, shut the door in the third period to secure the win for Pitt.
The win moved Pitt to a staggering 23-2 on the season and 10-1 in conference play. “There’s no recipe for success, we just kind of go out there and play hockey and it just happens to go in our favor,” Tonkovich humbly said after the game when asked what Pitt’s secret recipe was for such a successful season. “Fight the adversity and just keep going.”
Snader saved 21 out of the 23 shots he faced for his 14th win of the season. IUP goaltender Jared Stahel saved 33 of 36 shots on goal in the loss.
The Panthers will host John Carroll on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7:20 p.m at Alpha Ice Complex, a make up for the Dec. 6 cancellation. Pitt will finish their conference sschedule by hosting Slippery Rock – the only conference team to beat them thus far – and Mercyhurst on Friday, Feb. 14 and Saturday, Feb. 15. Both games are schedule for 9:20 p.m.
IUP will finish their conference slate by hosting Slippery Rock at S&T Bank Arena on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. and returning to Alpha Ice Complex to face Duquesne on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. The Hawks will end the season with a home series against Toledo on Feb. 21 and 22 at S&T Bank Arena.