Plum dominates Cathedral Prep for key victory
Erie Cathedral Prep rolled to a 9-2 record in PIHL Class AA on the strength of an offense that had scored 80 goals in 11 games, including 10 or more goals four times and eight goals on two other occasions.
But Monday night, the Ramblers met up with a stingy Plum defense, a goaltender who stood on her head and an offense that chiseled names on the score sheet half a dozen times.
Plum's 6-1 victory over Cathedral Prep kept it solidly in the chase for one of the 10 playoff spots in AA, and the Mustangs put themselves in position to move even further up the ladder.
“We just played a strong, tenacious, team-oriented game from start to finish,” Plum head coach Dave Stonebraker said.
“They were unselfish. They didn't try to do anything else than play as a unit. We've been trying like crazy to get that across to them all season long. (On Monday), they came out and played that way. That's what we need to have to string together a number of wins.”
Plum improved to 5-8-1 with the win, and the victory snapped a two-game losing skid.
The Mustangs have 11 points with five games remaining in the regular season.
Plum stands all alone in 10th place in the standings, one point ahead of Gateway (5-9-0) and one point behind West Allegheny (5-8-2).
North Hills and Moon are tied for seventh in the standings with 14 points apiece.
On Thursday, Gateway hosts Pine-Richland, and Moon takes on Bishop Canevin.
Plum returns to action Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Franklin Regional at Center Ice Arena in Delmont.
The Mustangs and Gators do battle Monday at 8:20 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington.
Plum will try to avenge a 4-2, early-season loss to Gateway.
“It is our goal to fight for a playoff spot, no matter which one it is,” Stonebraker said. “We're going to scrap and claw and do whatever we can to get into the playoffs. There's been only two losses where we were pretty much out of the game, but almost every game has been competitive, and we've taken some close losses. There's any number of games we wish we could replay, but we can't do that.”
Cathedral Prep's offense tallied 40 shots, and Plum senior Taylor Cestra stopped 39 of them.
“Taylor played an excellent game,” Stonebraker said.
The Ramblers scored their lone goal with 6:54 gone in the third period, but the score already was 4-0.
Sophomore forward David Stonebraker then salted the game away with a pair of goals in the final six minutes of regulation.
Junior Joe Randazzo scored his 24th and 25th goals of the season, and he added three assists.
Senior Andrew Walters and junior Zach Kuhn each scored a goal. Walters assisted on two goals, and Kuhn and senior Jordan Gable also provided assists.
“We had some great collective efforts,” coach Stonebraker said. “The players did a great job of shutting down a very potent offense. Erie Prep is a well-coached team. We take pride in the win we got as a team.”
Plum played a clean game in terms of penalties taken. The Mustangs were whistled for only two penalties in the game.
Cathedral Prep took three penalties, and a second-period high-sticking infraction led to Kuhn's goal on the power play.
The goal was Kuhn's first of the season, and he now has five assists.
“I think we can be a formidable opponent to any team when we play our game,” Stonebraker said. “The burden to accept that responsibility lies on our shoulders. We have to play the way we did (against Erie Prep) in every game.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.