Showcase bodes well for Bethel Park

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Bethel Park had made it to the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Hockey Scholastic Showcase tournament each of the past three seasons, but had failed to win the title each time.

But Monday, the Black Hawks finally got their fourth Director's Cup title, winning, 4-2, against Bishop Canevin. It was Bethel Park's first Director's Cup title since 2007 and now it trails North Allegheny by one for the most Director's Cup championships.

"We played very well as a team," Bethel Park coach Jim McVay said. "We had done quite well recently in the tournament, but just hadn't won. No one on our team had gotten a tournament championship, so it was good to get it.

"I told them they could enjoy it until the new year starts, so they could celebrate for a day and a half and then forget about it."

The key for the Black Hawks during the four-day tournament was team defense. After allowing two goals in the team's opener against Chartiers Valley, a 5-2 victory, Bethel Park only allowed three goals the rest of the tournament in victories against Westmont Hilltop, North Allegheny, North Hills and Bishop Canevin.

In the final against the Crusaders, Bethel Park got four goals from four different players -- Derek Lesnak, Christian Siak, Jacob Salak and Gary Cerrone -- in the second period to take a commanding lead.

Lesnak, Siak and Salak all made the all-tournament team, with Lesnak winning the R.J. Umberger Award given to the tournament's most outstanding player.

The Crusaders scored two goals in the final period, both by Liam Walsh.

"It was 0-0 after the first period and really could have gone either way at that point," McVay said. "After we got that first one we sort of rolled.

"But Bishop Canevin must be one of the better teams in AA because they battled us hard."

The Crusaders (9-1) have the best record in Class AA, while Bethel Park (7-2) is behind only Peters Township in Class AAA in terms of win percentage. The Black Hawks went into the holiday break riding a seven-game winning streak.

And just making the championship game of the Pennsylvania Hockey Scholastic Showcase tournament, regardless of the outcome, is a good omen for Bethel Park. Of the seven previous times the Black Hawks made the final, they went on to win the Penguins Cup in that same season five times.

Rams tough on Tigers

For the third consecutive season, Pine-Richland and North Allegheny got together to stage a group of exhibitions between the programs' junior varsity, varsity and alumni teams.

The games were played Monday, with Pine-Richland winning all three of the contests at North Park in the event that has come to be known as "Ice Storm."

"Our schools are very close and I've been friends with [North Allegheny coach] Jimmy [Black] for a long time," Pine-Richland coach Mike Bagnato said. "Many of our kids have played together on amateur teams and know each other well. We always seem to get a good crowd."

Both programs had alumni back from their PIHL Penguins Cup finalists last season.

The defending Class AAA champion Tigers had Cody Black and Connor Cash, among others, while the Class AA Penguins Cup runner-up Rams, who won the alumni game, 6-5, had Brendan Bagnato, Dillon Kessy and Zach Richey. Pine-Richland had at least one player from each class going back as far as 2006.

Partial proceeds of the "Ice Storm" went to the Kevin Kenny Fund. The fund was started to help aid former Quaker Valley hockey player Kevin Kenny, who injured his spinal cord in November while playing for the Pittsburgh Vengeance.

Games to watch

Armstrong vs. Bishop Canevin, 7 tonight at Ice Castle and 7:35 p.m. Thursday at Belmont Ice Complex. The top two teams in Class AA will meet twice in the next week. The Redhawks (8-2) have won eight games in a row; the Crusaders (9-1) have won six consecutive PIHL games.

* Peters Township at Seneca Valley, 6:10 p.m. Tuesday at Bladerunners-Warrendale. The Raiders (6-5) will try to avenge an earlier 5-2 loss to the Class AAA leading Indians (8-1).


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