Mustangs to cap Penguins Pond series, set to play North Hills
PIHL ice hockey games at the Penguins Pond outdoor rink at the new Highmark Stadium at Station Square are scheduled to wrap up Thursday with three games, and Plum is in the 9 p.m. slot against North Hills.
The game was one of several Penguins Pond high school contests that were postponed or canceled from earlier this season because of poor conditions — on the ice and with regards to the weather. The Mustangs, Indians and the PIHL hope the game can be played this time.
The forecast for Thursday, as of Tuesday's deadline for this week's edition, called for temperatures to reach a high in the lower 40s, with a low not too far off from the forecasted high.
As of Tuesday's deadline, the game still was on.
The weather cooperated for Class AA foe Gateway, as the Gators played West Allegheny on the Penguins Pond on Monday in temperatures that dipped into the upper 20s during the game.
Plum head coach Dave Stonebraker has said that all games are important in the race for the playoffs, but the game with North Hills takes on added importance beyond the pageantry and excitement of playing in an outdoor setting, as the Mustangs will be trying to snap a mini two-game losing streak.
Plum suffered a 4-2 setback to Kiski Area on Monday, as the Cavaliers held off the Mustangs and put the game away with an empty-net goal with two seconds left in regulation.
It had been almost three weeks since Plum had last played, as the Mustangs closed out their December slate on Dec. 19 with an 8-3 loss to Pine-Richland.
Prior to the loss to the Rams, Plum had scored three straight victories, including an 8-5 triumph over Hampton (6-3-1).
Plum never was able to grab the lead in Monday's game against Kiski Area (3-9-0).
The Cavaliers had two goals on the board with just over three minutes gone in the first period.
But Plum was able to cut into the lead about a minute and a half later, as junior Joe Randazzo put one past Kiski netminder Ben Crawford.
The Cavaliers scored the lone second-period goal and went into the third up 3-1.
The Mustangs got closer on the power play with just under three minutes left in regulation, as Randazzo scored his second of the game and team-best 18th of the season to make it 3-2.
Senior Andrew Walters and sophomore David Stonebraker assisted on Randazzo's second goal.
In the waning minutes, coach Stonebraker pulled junior goaltender Taylor Cestra for an extra attacker, but Kiski turned the tables and salted the game away.
Cestra went the whole way for Plum, as she stopped 32 of 35 Kiski shots. The Mustangs threw 36 shots at Crawford.
Plum, 3-6-1, currently has seven points, good for 10th in the Class AA standings.
Gateway, with its 7-4 win over West Allegheny, moved into ninth place with eight points (4-7-0), but the Gators have played one more game than the Mustangs.
Plum is scheduled to host Hampton on Monday at 8:20 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.