When North Allegheny defenseman Cameron Zahn teed up his first shot in overtime of the PIHL Class AAA semifinals, he completely fanned, bringing down a chorus of mock cheers from the Peters Township fans.
When he wound up for his second, it was the Tigers who were laughing, all the way to the Penguins Cup final.
Zahn cranked up a slapshot from the right point that trickled between the pads of Peters Township goaltender Caden Shell and into the net for a power play goal at 5:09 of overtime to give North Allegheny (15-5-2) a 4-3 victory against the Indians Wednesday at the RMU Island Sports Center.
“It felt good and I knew it was on the net, but I didn’t know if it went in or not,” Zahn said. “Then I saw the ref pointing and it was pretty exciting.”
It was the second consecutive postseason overtime win for top-seeded North Allegheny, which needed extra time to defeat Bethel Park in the first round of the tournament.
Joe Hubert was in goal for both wins and has turned aside 63 of the 68 shots — a .926 save percentage — he has faced in the playoffs, including 42 of 45 against Peters.
“Joey’s been playing really strong for us the last few games,” North Allegheny coach Mike Bagnato said. “He kept us in this game and, when you get a big save, it kind of gets your guys going.”
Despite the gaudy numbers, the last thing Hubert wanted was to step into the crease for the extra frame.
“Oh my God that was nerve-wracking and I honestly did not want to go back out there for overtime,” Hubert said.
It was certainly better than how things started. Hubert made several key stops in the early moments, but Peters Township took advantage of a defensive breakdown, came in on a two-on-none, and Matt Amelio scored to put the Indians ahead, 1-0, at 8:24.
Peters Township (11-6-5) dominated play throughout the first period, but all the team could escape with was a tie as Joseph Zappia beat Shell with 1.1 seconds left to knot it, 1-1.
“That goal was key because you get a goal with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, that’s just hard work and typical of this group,” Bagnato said.
“They just keep working and they make it happen.”
That goal helped North Allegheny flip the momentum heading into the second period and the team used it as John Parks scored a power-play goal at 5:53 to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead heading to the third period.
Peters Township, though, regrouped and, after goals by Will Barnes and Ross Opeka, had a 3-2 lead before Dawson Richard hit the back of the net at 12:49 to send it to overtime.
North Allegheny will play Erie Cathedral Prep, a 2-1 winner over Central Catholic in the other semifinal Wednesday. Joe Kelly scored both goals for the Ramblers, who are the reigning Class AA Penguins Cup and state champions and have defeated the Tigers twice during the regular season by a combined score of 13-2.