PIHL Championships: Peters gets fourth shot at fifth 'Cup'
March 14, 2014 12:00 AM
Bethel Park's Derek Lesnak checks Mt. Lebanon's Reed Farber into the boards during a game on November 7, 2013.
By Ryan Riordan / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Peters Township is hoping the fourth try at a fifth title is the charm.
On Monday night at 9 at the Consol Energy Center, the Indians will be playing for a Penguins Cup title for the fourth consecutive season, and the third in a row in Class AAA. Peters Township, which won four Class AA titles from 2002-05, lost each of the past three seasons.
"We've been [to Consol] a couple of times, so it's not new," Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. "But it's always special to go down there and play for a championship."
The Indians' opponent Monday will be Bethel Park, which beat Peters Township in the 2012 Penguins Cup championship, 2-1, in overtime, for the program's seventh title.
Bethel Park (19-3) and Peters Township (18-4) were 1-2, respectively, in the league standings during the regular season, with the Indians (plus-48) edging the Black Hawks (plus-46) in goal differential.
"They are well-coached and have great players in [Chris] Siak and [Derek] Lesnak, and they are going to be tough," Tingle said.
Lesnak played a big role in the last Penguins Cup title match against the Indians, scoring the opening goal and assisting on the overtime game-winner.
Siak, meanwhile, is the top goal-scorer in Class AAA this season with 33.
But they'll have a tough test in beating Peters Township goaltender Brian Baker, who will be starting his fourth Penguins Cup game. He was second in the league this season with a .919 save percentage.
On offense, Peters is very balanced, with just one player -- Adam Alavi -- in the top 40 in Class AAA in scoring, but 11 players with at least 10 points.
"[Peters is] seeded higher than anyone we've played in the playoffs, and they have just about the most talent in high school hockey," Bethel Park coach Jim McVay said.
The two teams split during the regular season, with Peters Township winning, 4-2, in November and the Black Hawks prevailing a month ago, 6-3.
Bishop Canevin and Erie Cathedral Prep finished 1-2 in Class AA, respectively, in winning percentage, goals scored and goals against.
So it's fitting that they will get to face off in the Penguins Cup championship game Monday night at 6:45.
The teams split two regular-season matchups, with the Ramblers (18-4-2) winning, 5-4, in November and the Crusaders (22-2) taking the regular-season finale, 8-5.
"[Cathedral Prep] is always known to come out really hard," Bishop Canevin senior Randy Unger said. "Last time we played them, they came out and scored early. We just need to keep battling, because I think we have the better offense and we're going to show that at Consol."
Unger is the catalyst for the league's top scoring team. He led Class AA with 75 points during the regular season and he's continued his stellar play in the postseason, compiling nine points in two games.
The Ramblers also have some firepower, scoring just one fewer goal than the Crusaders in the regular season. Both Ben Eliason (62 points) and Trevor Faulkner (50 points) finished in the top eight in points in Class AA this season.
"They've got a very good offense, so we have to be careful of some of their guys who generate offense," Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said.
Cathedral Prep will be trying to win its third title, and first since 1997 (the Ramblers lost the 2012 Cup to West Allegheny). Bishop Canevin has six Penguins Cup titles in school history, the last coming in 2011.
Quaker Valley needed every second to get back to the PIHL Class A Penguins Cup title game for the third consecutive season.
Cameron Peterkin scored with 0.2 seconds left to give the No. 1 Quakers (23-1) a 4-3 victory against Freeport in the semifinals Monday night. Peterkin's goal came just 32 seconds after Jimmy Perkins scored his third goal of the game to tie the score.
"We found a way," Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. "We're very fortunate to be going to the Penguins Cup."
The Quakers will now try to win their third consecutive Penguins Cup championship and fifth overall when it takes on No. 3 Thomas Jefferson (17-5-1) at Consol Energy Center Monday at 4:30 p.m.
The Quakers went 3-0 against the Jaguars this season, outscoring Thomas Jefferson, 17-7. But the Jaguars only lost by a goal, 5-4, in the team's matchup Jan. 30, as they scored three third-period goals to almost erase a four-goal deficit.
Thomas Jefferson is 7-0-1 since the third loss to the Quakers, the last victory a 4-2 defeat of Mars Monday night in the Class A semifinals.
"Like I said when I walked in the locker room [after Monday's game], 'They said it wasn't possible and that it was going to be Quaker and Mars. And they were wrong,'" said Zach Uhlyar, who leads Thomas Jefferson with 56 points this season.
Date: Monday, March 17
Venue: Consol Energy Center
Tickets (one-time entry; good for all games): Adults -- $12; Students -- $7; Children under 12 -- Free
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