Plum to jump back into action
A couple of weeks ago, after a tough 4-2 loss to rival Gateway, Plum varsity hockey head coach Dave Stonebraker rattled off a few things he knew his team could do better.
The setback to the Gators was the Mustangs' third of the season, and it was the fourth game without a win to start the campaign.
Plum then suffered a 7-3 loss to AA power Latrobe one week later to fall to an uncharacteristic 0-4-1.
But throughout the tough start, Stonebraker believed in his players and knew the toughness they possess.
He said he knew they would play better and get one in the win column.
That first win came on Nov. 19, as Plum scored four times and limited Montour's offensive output in a 4-1 victory at the Robert Morris University's Island Sports Complex.
With two weeks to work on areas that need improvement and to build on the positives from the Montour victory, Plum will be gunning for more good things on Monday, as the Mustangs host Franklin Regional at 8:20 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Ice Center in New Kensington.
Franklin Regional has only two games under its belt this season and hasn't played since Nov. 12.
The Panthers, who won only once last season, almost took care of business in its opener, but they fell to Kiski Area, 7-6.
Franklin Regional was overwhelmed by Latrobe, 14-1, on Nov. 12.
In Plum's win over Montour, the teams played to a scoreless tie after one period.
The Mustangs then exploded for three goals in a span of nine minutes in period two.
Joe Randazzo, Andrew Walters and James D'Andrea scored to give Plum a 3-0 lead, and the goals from Walters and D'Andrea came on the power play.
Walters assisted on the other two goals, and Zach Kuhn also had an assist.
Montour got on the board with 30 seconds left in the second to cut the Mustangs' lead to 3-1, but Randazzo lit the lamp early in the third period on an assist from Todd Ruggiero to stretch the Plum lead back to three goals.
Randazzo's two goals against the Spartans gives him 10 on the season. His goal total leads all of PIHL Class AA.
Plum's first win of the season also was the first win for senior goaltender Taylor Cestra, who stopped 27 of 28 Montour shots.
The Mustangs also fired off 28 shots.
Plum also will be in action on Dec. 10, as the Mustangs face AA newcomer Hampton. The game will be at 8:30 p.m. at Ice Connection of PIttsburgh in Venetia.
The Talbots moved up from Class A, where they made it to the Consol Energy Center the past two seasons.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.