Plum skaters help Northeast Conference stars triumph
Last year, the Northeast Conference didn't fare well in the PIHL Class AA all-star game.
The Southwest Conference took control early and skated to an 8-2 victory at Rostraver Ice Gardens.
The scene for this year's AA all-star game shifted to the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center, and the balance of power in Sunday's contest shifted to the Northeast.
With help from Plum seniors Andrew Walters and Jordan Gable and junior Joe Randazzo, the Northeast scored a big 7-4 victory.
“Everyone came together well right during warm-ups,” Northeast assistant coach and Gateway head coach Gene Perhac said.
“There were four of us (coaches) on the bench, but we talked to each other more than we talked to the kids. When you get that caliber of kids together, we just told them to play their game and have fun. They knew what to do and how to play.”
Players from Plum, Gateway, Hampton, Pine-Richland, Latrobe, Kiski Area and Franklin Regional might butt heads often during the regular season games, but it turned into a smooth mixture on the ice Sunday.
The Northeast led 3-2 at the end of the second period and then erupted for three goals in a span of 5:43 in the third to take control.
Walters and Randazzo, who have a combined 49 goals and 31 assists for the Mustangs this season, figured into the scoring for the Northeast squad.
Randazzo tied the game 2-2 with 5:01 left in the second period.
About four minutes into the third period, he set up Walters for a goal that gave the Northeast some breathing room at 4-2.
Latrobe's Josh Singley scored a team-best two goals for the Northeast.
He has 19 goals and 25 assists for the Wildcats in 15 PIHL games this season.
Latrobe 6, Plum 0
Players from Plum and Latrobe found themselves on the same ice Monday evening for a AA game at Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington, but things didn't go well for the Mustangs against the division-leading Wildcats.
Latrobe scored twice in each period and outshot Plum, 44-12, in its victory.
Despite the loss, Plum, 7-9-1 (15 points) clinched a spot in the AA playoffs with two games left to play in the 19-game regular season.
The Mustangs wrapped up the playoff spot with West Allegheny's 4-1 loss to Hampton on Monday. The Indians, who sit in 11th place in the AA standings, are 5-11-2 (12 points) with one game left on their schedule.
The best West Allegheny can do is 14 points if it wins its regular-season finale.
The top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs in AA, and Gateway (7-10-0 and 14 points) also clinched a playoff spot with its 10-1 win over Franklin Regional.
Latrobe, which got a hat trick from Singley on Monday against Plum, improved to 14-1-0 (28 points).
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.