NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — The Peters Township Indians used shutout goaltending from Nolan Hilbert to defeat the Pine-Richland Rams, 5-0, Monday at the RMU Island Sports Complex. The Indians advance to the Class-3A Penguins Cup Final to face Seneca Valley on Monday, Mar. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Pine-Richland won both regular season games against the Indians, 8-1 on Oct. 7 and 5-4 on Dec. 7. A blowout and a tight affair gave an indication that the playoff edition of this rivalry would be no different. But Peters Township had other ideas.
Chase Stauffer started the scoring just over six minutes in, sliding a puck past Pine-Richland goaltender Daniel Mooney. Stauffer added his second of the game at 7:34 of the second and just when Pine-Richland thought it couldn’t get any worse, William Tomko made it 3-0 just 12 seconds later.
As it turned out, that was all the scoring necessary — save for a couple empty net goals by Cooper Slavin and Ben Kovac — to secure the bid to the Penguins Cup Final.
When asked after the game what the secret was to turning around the Indians’ misfortune against Pine-Richland this time around, head coach Rick Tingle kept it simple.
“Defensive zone coverage, forecheck on their defense…and the puck went in the net a couple times.”
Joking aside, the real key was the play of Nolan Hilbert and his 21-save shutout. Though it could have been a tight, high scoring contest with how much he played the puck out of the crease, much to Tingle’s dismay.
“I’m just trying to get the pucks away from the net all I can,” said Hilbert after the game. “Get the puck out, that’s all I need to do, nothing fancy.”
“I wish he wasn’t [active with the stick],” said Tingle about his goaltender. “He’s not that active in practice, but he picked the right time to do it. He was confident, and that mattered.”
That confidence will have him playing for a Penguins Cup championship in a week’s time.
MAJOR FOCUS: PETERS TOWNSHIP ADVANCES, WILL FACE SENECA VALLEY IN PENGUINS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP