CASTLE SHANNON, Pa. — Despite a four-goal performance from Bethel Park Forward Joey Wandrisco, the Upper St. Clair Panthers rode scoring sprees of their own to come from behind and defeat the Blackhawks, 7-5, Monday night at Ice Castle Arena, clinching a Class-3A playoff berth in the process.
In a game that featured only three minor penalties – a cross checking minor to Upper St. Clair and two tripping minors to Bethel Park – it took almost half of the first period for either team to find the back of the net. Clean checks and frantic puck movement showed that each team was trying to use chaos to their advantage. Finally, at 7:44 of the first period, Mitchell Geinzer deflected a shot into the Bethel Park net past Blackhawk goaltender Dominic Zevola.
Wandrisco scored his first of four goals in response just a minute later to tie the game 1-1. Wandrisco scored again with just 26 seconds remaining in the first period and completed the natural hat trick almost 12 minutes into the second to give Bethel Park a 3-1 lead.
At 12:59 of the second period, Devin Rohrich brought the Panthers to within a goal and Colton Shiry tied the game for Upper St. Clair at 3-3 just 17 seconds later.
At 5:46 of the third period, Wandrisco scored his fourth goal of the night, but it turned out not to be enough. At 10:11, Geinzer scored his second goal of the game, followed by Shiry with his second of the game at 11:44, to give Upper St. Clair a 5-4 lead. Geinzer finished his own hat trick with 3:19 to play and Rohrich netted the empty net goal 34 seconds later to cap the Panther scoring. Luke McLinden was able to get a goal back for Bethel Park with six seconds to play, but it was too little, too late as Upper St. Clair took the 7-5 victory.
Jake Fisher got the start in net for Upper St. Clair and stopped 25 of 30 shots for his seventh win of the season. Zevola saved 19 of 25 shots for Bethel Park in the loss.
Upper St. Clair clinched a playoff berth and improved to 11-3-1 on the season. They will host Peters Township on Monday, Feb 3 at 9 p.m. at Ice Castle Arena.
Bethel Park fell to 6-8 and will host Butler on a short week at the Spencer YMCA on Thursday, Jan 30 at 9 p.m.
MAJOR FOCUS: Upper St. Clair clinches playoff berth
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