Gators start stretch run with game against Cathedral Prep
The Gateway varsity ice hockey team has seven games left in the regular season.
The Gators are battling to be one of the 10 teams to qualify for the PIHL Class AA playoffs, and a win Friday against Erie Cathedral Prep at Center Ice Arena in Delmont will go a long way towards achieving that goal.
“We're very excited,” Gateway head coach Gene Perhac said. “We broke down our schedule, and if we keep playing the way we know we can, we can beat everyone on the schedule. We just need to stay focused. We have some big games left. We don't want to just settle for that last spot.”
Gateway is 4-8 overall after 12 games, and its eight points currently puts it just on the outside of the playoffs.
Two teams right in the hunt with the Gators in the chase for the playoffs — Plum (4-7-1) and West Allegheny (4-7-2) — play each other Thursday. The Mustangs and Indians have nine and 10 points, respectively.
Perhac said a couple of close losses — including a 3-2 overtime setback to Moon on Dec. 17, and a two-goal loss to North Hills in November — were frustrating. Moon (6-4-2) and North Hills (7-5-0) each have 14 points.
“We should've put those in the win column,” Perhac said.
“The guys are starting to come together and understand the system and what I want them to do.”
Gateway and Cathedral Prep will drop the puck at 8:15 p.m. The Ramblers have 16 points, and they are coming off an 8-6 home victory over Chartiers Valley on Jan. 14.
“The last two times we played Prep, it was up there,” Perhac said. “Now they have the long trip. Last year, we had them on the ropes. It was a close game. They got some late goals, and we kind of wore down. It's a long day, no matter who has to travel. With everyone back, we should be able to do well.”
Gateway was without six players for its game against Greater Latrobe on Jan. 14, and the Wildcats exploited the advantage for a 9-2 victory.
Latrobe (9-1-0) has 18 points heading into its game with Montour (0-12-0) on Thursday.
The Wildcats had a 1-0 lead after the first period but exploded for six goals in the second.
Brothers Brandon and Zach Dusch each missed the game because of illness, while leading scorer Taylor Siwik, as well as Vaso Obrknez and Ryan Taylor, served one-game suspensions after receiving game misconduct penalties at the Penguins Pond game against West Allegheny on Jan. 7.
Mark D'Andrea suffered a collar bone injury against West Allegheny, and Perhac said the injury could keep him out anywhere from three to eight weeks.
“It was tough. We had kids playing out of position (against Latrobe),” Perhac said.
“We were running only three defensemen and six forwards. Matt Whelen, our backup goaltender, was our sixth forward. We were playing well, but the second period just got out of hand. We got tired and were getting out of position. Things went a lot better in the third period.”
Seniors Jonathan Kasper and Cam Cacolice each scored a goal in the third period as Gateway avoided the shutout.
Junior Brenden Hamilton and freshman William McAllister assisted on the goals.
Perhac said everyone who missed the Latrobe game, with the exception of D'Andrea, will be back in the lineup against Cathedral Prep.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.