Peters Township continues postseason magic with Penguins Cup championship
It was as easy as 3-2-1 for Peters Township.
The Indians captured the PIHL Class AAA Penguins Cup championship Wednesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex with a 5-2 win over Central Catholic. Peters Township, seeded sixth, knocked off the top three seeds en route to its first title since 2014.
“This is a dream come true,” said Peters Township's Ryan Luppe, who had a goal and two assists. “Coming in as the sixth seed, it was really hard to do what we did, especially in triple-A. But, we battled our hearts out.”
Peters Township beat third-seeded Canon McMillan, 2-1, to open the playoffs and second-seeded North Allegheny, 7-0, in the semifinals. The Indians rallied to down the top-seeded Vikings for the title.
“It's awesome,” said Peters Township's Conrad Deemer, who had a pair of goals. “Everyone said we were going to lose in the first round to Canon-Mac, our rivals, but we came out and won the game. Then we won the next one 7-0, and that felt amazing. Then, we came out again and won.”
Peters Township (13-8-2) entered the postseason with a record barely above .500. Saturday, the Indians play for a state championship. They meet Holy Ghost Prep, which beat La Salle, 5-3, for its second Flyers Cup championship in three years, at 5 p.m. at RMU Island Sports Center.
“Our record was fairly mediocre. We came together at the right time, though,” Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. “Canon-McMillan killed us the last regular season game, and it gave me something to motivate them with and how we had to change our play. We changed the way we played through every one of these playoff games, and it paid off.”
Jacob Kingerski's slapper gave the Vikings (18-5-0) a lead 6:26 into the first period, but Peters Township responded with a pair of deflection goals from Deemer. The first came off Luppe's shot from the far point 4:26 into the second. The second came off Jace Cochran's slapper from the near point with 3:38 left in the second.
“It was awesome — Pens Cup, everything I've been dreaming of — I made it happen with two goals,” Deemer said. “It felt amazing.”
Central Catholic tied it on a power-play goal with 51.3 seconds remaining in the second. Ryan Haag fired a wrister from the slot into the back of the net.
Cal Raymore put the Indians up 3-2, 1:55 into the third. Along the near post, his shot toward the goal snuck between goaltender Nate Cava and the near post and fell into the net.
Peters Township boosted its lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal 6:03 into the frame. Following a scrum in front of the Vikings' goal, Luppe knocked it into the net.
“We're not looking to get the pretty goals,” Luppe said. “We're just looking to get goals and win games.”
Raymore capped the scoring with another goal with 2:30 to go to secure the Indians' sixth overall Penguins Cup.
“We started out a bit slow, but we kept outshooting them, and it paid off,” Deemer said. “Our coach told us just to play our game. It worked.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.