Gators edge Spartans at ISC
With fewer and fewer games remaining to make its mark in the chase for the PIHL Class AA playoffs, the Gateway varsity ice hockey team knew it had to take advantage of Monday's matchup with Montour at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center.
The winless Spartans gave the Gators a fight, but in the end, Gateway held on, 3-1, for a crucial two points.
“Montour is a young team, and they played us tough,” Gators head coach Gene Perhac said.
“They are getting better. They were at home, and I think playing in front of their fans gave them a boost. They played us down to the wire.”
Gateway now is 5-9-0 overall, and its 10 points puts it one point behind Plum (5-8-1) for the 10th and final playoff spot in AA.
The Gators host Pine-Richland on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. at Center Ice Arena in Delmont, and the Rams are second in AA in points with 21.
Latrobe is first with 22.
Gateway plays Plum on Monday at 8:20 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena.
Monday's win snapped a mini two-game losing skid, and the Gators were able to bounce back from Friday's 8-2 loss to Erie Cathedral Prep.
Prep led 1-0 after the first period and then outscored Gateway, 4-2, in the second period to take control of the game.
“We didn't play that bad against Prep, even though the score might not indicate that,” Perhac said.
“We had a lot of scoring opportunities in the first period we didn't take advantage of, and Prep capitalized on our mistakes in the second period.”
Perhac said the offense has been just missing an not finishing plays the past couple of games.
“Montour is a physical team, and they kept us off balance a little bit,” Perhac said.
“We were missing chances to blow the game open. The younger guys are learning and maturing through the season.”
Senior Cam Cacolice scored Gateway's first-period goal, and he assisted on senior Jake DeHass' game-winner in the second that broke a 1-1 tie.
The Gators took a pair of penalties in the span of 21 seconds late in the third period, and Montour had a 5-on-3 power play.
It became a 6-on-3 man advantage for the Spartans when they pulled their goaltender.
However, Gateway junior goaltender Tyler Perhac stopped a Montour shot; dished the puck to Cacolice, who eyed up the empty net; and Cacolice scored a Gateway insurance goal.
The Spartans pulled their goalie again in the waning seconds, and Perhac came within about 2 inches of putting another empty-net goal on the board for the Gators.
Gateway fired off 32 shots, and Perhac stopped 27 of 28 Montour attempts.
Senior Jonathan Kasper missed the past two games because of an injury.
He dressed for Monday's game and was on the bench, but he wasn't used.
“We felt it was best to keep him out with the two games coming up,” coach Perhac said.
“He really wanted to get in the game at the end, but he was sitting the whole game and wasn't warmed up. We didn't want to risk further injury. Hopefully, he will be back (against Pine-Richland).”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.