Gateway icers top rival Mustangs for first win of season
The Gateway varsity ice hockey team hoped for a spark against Plum after tough losses to Hampton and Chartiers Valley, powerhouses in PIHL Class AA, in its first two contests.
The Gators and Mustangs were reunited in the same classification last year, and Gateway wanted to avenge three closes losses to Plum from the 2011-12 campaign.
The teams met at Center Ice Arena in Delmont last Thursday, and the Gators jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period and held on for a 4-2 victory.
“Last year, we went 0-3 against them, and that kind of hurt us in the seeding for the playoffs,” Gateway head coach Gene Perhac said.
“All three games were close and right down to the wire. It was really good to finally (defeat) them in a close game.”
Perhac said there was a lot of emotion for the home opener after the team was outscored 18-4 in two road games to begin the season.
“The freshman players were there with their jerseys on, and they were leading the fans in the stands,” Perhac said. “It brought some extra emotion down.”
Gateway senior Cam Cacolice scored unassisted late in the first period to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Senior Taylor Siwik and junior Brenden Hamilton each scored in the second period, as the Gators extended their lead. Siwik's goal was his team-leading third of the season, while Hamilton lit the lamp for the first time in the 2012-13 campaign.
Undaunted, Plum came out in the third and put two on the board in the first seven minutes of the final period. Mustangs junior Joe Randazzo scored both goals, and he has seven of Plum's nine goals over its first four games (0-3-1).
The Gateway defense and junior netminder Tyler Perhac were able to weather the challenge, and Cacolice put the game away with a shorthanded goal into an empty net with 20 seconds left.
“We knew Plum was going to come all out against us in the first five minutes of the period,” coach Perhac said. “We were able to withstand that rush and their pressure. We missed a couple chances early in the period to really put the game away. We missed a couple empty-netters that we just weren't able to finish.
“Plum's second goal was kind of flukey. It hit off a Plum and Gateway player and got behind Tyler.
“The players responded after Plum's second goal. That's where our senior leadership really began to take over. Jake (DeHass), Cam (Cacolice) and Taylor (Siwik) said we were basically not going to come off the ice until we win this game. Tyler (Perhac) wasn't going to let Plum get that third goal.”
DeHass and freshman Brandon Dusch assisted on Gateway's second period goals, and Tyler Perhac faced 40 shots and stopped 38.
“I was very pleased with the players,” coach Perhac said.
“We're really developing as a team. That was our best game so far. The young kids are starting to put a little more production in, and the upperclassmen are really taking charge of the game. It was a great team effort. It was good to see them get that first win.”
Gateway will try to build off the Plum victory Friday with a game at Center Ice against North Hills.
The opening faceoff is set for 7:35 p.m.
The Indians beat Kiski Area, 3-2, in their opener Nov. 5 and were slated to play Hampton on Monday.
That game was to be played past the early deadline for this week's edition.
“We opened with a rough schedule, and it was nice to get that first win out of the way,” coach Perhac said.
“Now we can grow off of the win and hopefully keep the momentum going.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.