South Hills Squirt AA squad steams toward postseason
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The South Hills Panthers have been in a battle for the top spot in the Pennsylvania Amateur Hockey League's Squirt AA division since October.
The Predators and North Pittsburgh are just two of several teams that have fought with the Panthers in what head coach Keith Reed calls a “very competitive division.”
“Every game will be a challenge down the stretch and into the playoffs,” Reed said. “The whole division is strong. No game has been easy for us, but we've been up for the challenge.”
South Hills beat the Predators, 3-0, on Jan. 26, to improve its impressive PAHL record to 11-1-1.
North Pittsburgh remained undefeated (9-0-1) through January.
The playoffs begin after the regular season concludes Feb. 24. It is an open format, so all 10 teams in the division, regardless of record, are eligible to enter the playoffs.
“They all listen to the coaches well and respond to what we are teaching them,” Reed said. “This is a good group of kids. We are looking forward to the playoffs.”
A group of about five or six players has been on the same team the past several seasons. Others have come from other organizations in the Pittsburgh area or worked their way up through the ranks in the South Hills organization.
One player, Bradley Francis, lives in Peters Township but is a native of Kingston, Ontario.
“They have come together and worked together so well,” Reed said. “They've responded to each other on and off the ice. We did some team-building activities before the season started, and they all became great friends.”
Reed said he had a good feeling this team had the potential to be successful as the start of the season approached.
He said that feeling was developed through their dedication to improving.
“We had a practice at 7 a.m. Sunday (after a win over the Predators on Jan. 26), and every player was there 20 minutes before the practice,” he said.
“They were ready to go. They have a lot of fun with it.”
In addition to their success in PAHL games, the Panthers have enjoyed good results in a couple of tournaments this season.
South Hills went 4-0 to capture the Three Rivers Cup title Nov. 4, and the Panthers edged the Toronto Penguins to claim the first-place trophy.
Reed said the Silver Sticks Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, in early December was a close and competitive tournament, but South Hills wasn't able to win the championship.
A rough tournament experience at the end of December at the North Pittsburgh Wildcat Winter Shootout, Reed said, didn't bring his team down.
“They learned from that tournament and responded in January,” he said.
The Panthers played at the Pittsburgh Midwinter Classic on Jan. 19-21, and after two losses to start the tournament, it won three straight to take the gold.
South Hills beat the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, 1-0, in overtime in the semifinals, as Eddie Pazo scored the game-winner.
The Panthers topped the St. Jude Knights, a team from Illinois, 2-1, in a shootout in the championship game. Francis scored with 5:59 left in the third period to tie the game.
Goaltender Andrew Pichora stopped four out of five shooters in the shootout, and Keith Reed and Riley Holzer scored for South Hills to secure the championship.
“The tournament wins were a lot of fun hockey to watch and coach,” Keith Reed said.
“We were able to beat a lot of out-of-state teams.
Michael Love is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- Four helicopters respond to Route 51 crash in Rostraver
- Miami (Fla.) gets prepared to take on ‘physical’ Pitt team
- Carrick crime ‘blitz’ shows early signs of success
- Penguins 4th line is showing promise
- Kittanning News carries latest books by Boarts and Creel
- Alpine touring skiing movement faces uphill climb in Western Pa.
- Western Pa. dairies get creative to ensure eggnog supply
- Fire destroys home in Springfield