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Plum seeks 1st win, will face rival Gators

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

The Plum varsity ice hockey team is 0-2-1 after three games, and the Mustangs will attempt to shake off the rough start and put one in the win column Thursday against rival Gateway at Center Ice Arena in Delmont.

The game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.

Gateway also is looking for its first victory after a season-opening loss to Hampton (12-2) on Oct. 29 and a 6-2 setback to Chartiers Valley on Monday.

The Mustangs tied Moon in their opener, but they dropped a game against Bishop Canevin, 7-0, last week, and came up short Monday against Pine-Richland, 6-4.

Plum and Gateway players and coaches know each other well through their battles on the high school ice and also through local amateur hockey leagues.

Plum moved down to the PIHL Class AA level last year, and the two teams met three times.

The Mustangs beat the Gators, 4-3, in the first meeting, and Plum rallied to win in the final minute.

Plum also defeated Gateway in the second and third games, and those three victories helped the Mustangs finish with an 11-10 regular-season record and grab the seventh seed for the playoffs.

The Mustangs were looking to bounce back Monday at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena after the loss to Bishop Canevin four days earlier, but visiting Pine-Richland had other ideas and came away with the victory.

The teams combined for four goals in the first period, and three of the goals came on the power play.

The Rams had two of the power-play goals, and ended the first period with a 3-1 lead.

Pine-Richland's Zach Richey scored all three of his team's goals in the first period.

After the Rams took a 1-0 lead, Plum junior Joe Randazzo scored an unassisted goal exactly midway through the first period and 19 seconds into the Mustangs' first power play of the evening.

However, Pine-Richland got the advantage back quickly, as Richey tallied his second goal just over one minute later.

Richey scored again with 3:27 remaining in the first period, and the power-play goal made it 3-1.

After a brief timeout between periods, Plum came out and controlled the scoreboard, as Randazzo and senior Andrew Walters scored goals.

With 5:05 left in the second, the game was tied, 3-3.

But as the final few minutes of the period drained away, Pine-Richland struck twice to take the lead back.

The second Rams goal in the late-period charge was scored shorthanded.

The teams traded goals over the final 15 minutes, as Randazzo completed a hat trick.

He also scored twice in the season-opening tie against Moon, and he is among the leaders in Class AA with five goals after three games.

Walters, senior Jordan Gable and sophomores Dave Stonebraker and T.J. Kelsesky recorded assists for the Mustangs.

Plum fired off 18 shots in the game, while Mustangs senior goaltender Taylor Cestra made 32 saves on 38 Pine-Richland shots.

The Mustangs follow Thursday's game against Gateway with a contest against Latrobe on Nov. 15 at 9:15 p.m. at Kirk S. Nevin Arena in Greensburg.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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