PIHL semifinals roundup: Late surge keys Bethel Park win
From pre-game introductions — when Bethel Park skated to its blue line as a team while each player was announced individually — until the final buzzer, it was evident the Black Hawks were in it together en route to winning a PIHL Class AAA Penguins Cup semifinal 4-0 over Pine-Richland on Wednesday night at the RMU's Island Sports Center.
“That's a tradition,” senior Chris Siak said. “It symbolizes to play as a team and not individuals.”
After a defensive struggle through two periods, Bethel Park broke through in the third, scoring three goals less than four minutes into the final period en route to the victory.
“Once we got one, I think we just kind of got on a roll,” Bethel Park coach Jim McVay said. “It was a big battle the whole way.”
Chris Siak's blast from the blue line less than a minute into the third during a Bethel Park power play started the barrage. Jake Worcester added a goal a minute later before Siak's second goal of the game came on a two-on-one.
“I just pretty much closed my eyes and shot as hard as a I could,” Siak said of his game-winning blast.
Bethel Park (19-3) took control of momentum in the second period, peppering Pine-Richland goalie Isaac Stephen with shot after shot.
Stephen made 25 saves through two periods.
“In the second, we turned it up a little bit and were winning more of the battles,” Siak said.
Pine-Richland (13-9-1) had trouble finding scoring opportunities against top-seeded Bethel Park, which had the PIHL's best defensive unit during the regular season.
Luck also wasn't on the Rams' side, evidenced by shots hitting the post twice in the second period.
“We had some chances early in the game. One hit the post and rolled across the back of the net,” Pine-Richland coach Mike Bagnato said. “Jimmy (McVay) does a really good job of shutting everything down (defensively).”
Worcester added another power-play goal midway through the third and finished with two goals and one assist. Siak added an assist to go along with his two tallies. Bethel Park goalie William Love finished with 24 saves in the shutout, while Stephen finished with 36 saves for the Rams.
“They've been scoring,” McVay said of Siak and Worcester. “They're two of our leaders.”
Bethel Park will play second-seeded Peters Township at 9 p.m. in Monday's Penguins Cup championship game at Consol Energy Center.
It will be the third game of a tripleheader, after the Class A championship between Quaker Valley and Thomas Jefferson and the Class AA title game between Erie Cathedral Prep and Bishop Canevin.
“Our goal is to play our best game each game,” McVay said.
Peters Township 6, Penn-Trafford 1 — Jonathan Dagnal scored a hat trick, leading No. 2 Peters Township (17-4) to a Class AAA Penguins Cup semifinal win over No. 5 Penn-Trafford (12-9) at RMU's Island Sports Center.
Dagnal's two goals in a 33-second span in the first period gave the Indians a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Carter Ekberg, Gavin Rebholz and Matt Amelio also scored for the Indians.
Cam Williams scored for Penn-Trafford late in the second period.