NEVILLE TWP., PA — Micha DeJulia’s goal with 6:23 remaining in the game ended a ferocious Ringgold third-period comeback attempt while securing Neshannock’s to right to defend their the PIHL Division-2 championship, defeating Ringgold 4-3 at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center on Thursday night.
“We knew Ringgold was a great team,” Neshannock head coach Mark Multari said. “They’ve been atop this class for years, Rick (Kalinowski) always has a great team, great talent. We knew they were coming.”
The Lancers were able to extinguish the Rams for a second consecutive year after defeating Ringgold 5-1 in the the 2021 championship game, but it was a tougher season this time around. The Lancers had a record of 1-6 before the calendar flipped to December, and haven’t lost since dropping a 4-2 decision to Morgantown on November 29.
“We set a goal for ourselves.” Multari said. “We were in the cellar until mid February, we told the boys to believe in themselves and keep battling.”
Tommy Malvar opened the scoring at 5:15 for the Lancers, followed shortly by a goal from Gio Valentine at 4:33. The two teams played rough and tumble hockey in the first 34 minutes, and Malvar capitalized again at 5:17 of the second frame to extend the Neshannock lead to three.
Ethan Saylor’s effort goal at 4:35 cut the lead to 3-1 at the intermission, and then the captainfired a shot on fresh ice that Jacob Frahlich redirected behind Lancers starter Riley Mastowski. Nathan Boulanger was able to score a “Michigan” style goal to tie the contest at 7:52, but it was all for naught as DeJulia fired a shot from the circle that caught Rams starter Gaige DiEugenio off guard for the win.
With the victory, Neshannock earned a berth in the 2022 PIHL Division-2 Championship, where the Bishop Canevin Crusaders await. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:45 from the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. The Crusaders won both contests, a 3-1 game at Hess Ice on October 18 and a 2-0 matchup at Ice Castle on November 8.