Ford City eager for Greensburg Salem rematch
Inexperienced at the start of the season, Ford City's hockey team found its identity by early December and went on a tear that propelled the Sabers to the top of the PIHL Open Class standings.
Tonight, with a Chiefs Cup championship appearance on the line, top-seeded Ford City (18-2-1) will travel to Center Ice Arena in Delmont and play No. 4 Greensburg Salem (16-5), one of the few teams to witness the Sabers' early-season struggles.
"We were kind of hoping for this matchup," Ford City coach Doug Anthony said. "We both have the same style; we like to run and gun. We feel like we have more depth than them. They have a very small bench, and we're three lines strong, so we're hoping by the third period, we'll be able to wear them down."
Greensburg Salem (16-5) defeated Ford City, 3-2, on Oct. 31 at Kirk Nevin Arena. Ford City fell to 1-1 that night, and by the end of November, the Sabers' record sat at 3-2-1.
Ford City flourished as 2012 approached. Its defense, which had allowed 16 goals through the first six games, surrendered just 23 in the next 15 contests. And its offense, after averaging 5.83 goals per game through six contests, improved the mark to 7.53 during its last 15 outings.
On Feb. 9, Ford City avenged its loss to Greensburg Salem with a 5-3 win at the Belmont Complex. Anthony said the Sabers recently reviewed that game film and were reminded that the contest had been closer than the score indicated — Ford City led, 3-2, after two periods.
"I expect a really good game (tonight)," Anthony said. "They have Sean Beichner, and the kid is one heck of a talent. Fortunately for us, we have the Valaseks, and they're two heck of a talents."
Beichner finished second in the Open Class in points during the regular season. He had a class-high 51 goals and registered 22 assists.
Only one other Greensburg Salem player, Cody Austad (17 goals, 27 assists), ranked among the top 25 in total points.
Kevin and Jesse Valasek had the top two point totals for Ford City. Kevin, who ranked sixth in the Open Class, scored 25 goals and earned 33 assists, while Jesse ranked seventh with 28 goals and 26 assists.
Junior Eric Lindey (25 goals, 21 assists) and Josh Oliver (14 goals, 20 assists) also were top-25 scorers.