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Pine-Richland takes care of Hampton in hockey action

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 4:51 p.m.
Pine Creek
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal Kyle Cunningham and the Pine-Richland ice hochey team is on fire on the eve of the playoffs. Cunningham had three points against a tough Hampton team.
Pine Creek
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal Ethan Homitz and the Talbots had some chances agianst Pine-Richland, but an early power play goal shifted the momentum of the game.

With the high school ice hockey season funneling toward the playoffs, Pine-Richland and Hampton went head-to-head in the hopes of locking up a spot.

Both teams came out hard and battled evenly for the first eight minutes, but when Pine-Richland's Tyler Makita scored on a 5-on-3 advantage off an assist from Dillon Kessy and Kyle Cunningham, the game took on a completely different perspective.

“We came out of the locker room with a lot of emotion,” Hampton coach Anthony Scolieri said. “Sometimes that can backfire ... you come out so pumped up that as soon as something goes wrong, then another thing, then another. As soon as we fixed one thing, then another thing went wrong, it was like being in quicksand, an endless cycle.”

That first goal paved the way for nine unanswered Pine-Richland goals and a 9-0 win.

Zach Richey led the assault with three goals. Drew Berkhoudt, Ryan Cole, Cunningham and Kessy each scored one, and Mike Carrozzi scored a short-handed goal to push the Rams lead to 5-0 in the second period.

“We have been playing extremely well (during a series of games lately),” Pine-Richland coach Mike Bagnato said. “The playoff seeding depends on these last few games, and the higher the seed the better.”

The win secured a first-round bye for the Rams, but a home playoff game is a possibility depending on how things shake out this week.

Bagnato said the key to the recent wins was getting off to a good start. He said his squad must stay focused, be prepared, get the forecheck working and maintain a team-first mentality.

If those things happen, Bagnato said, “we are tough to beat. We get one goal, and it is like wildfire.”

Defenseman Kyle Cunningham helped goalie Brendan Bagnato pitch the shutout and added a goal and two assists. He said the forwards were getting open, but getting the early power-play goal was the key.

“I was a little surprised we scored nine goals,” Cunningham said. “But they just kept coming. We were able to get the puck deep on offense, and the defense was able to keep it out of our net.”

The Rams have a playoff ticket punched and are firing the way Bagnato wants to see at this point in the season.

“We are getting better at the right time of year,” he said. “The kids are having fun with the system, and we are getting a lot of people involved.

“I like how we are going in … there are no guarantees, but I like our chances.”

A chance is what Hampton still has in regard to the playoffs. The team had to win its game earlier this week to secure the sixth seed. A loss would result in a play-in scenario Scolieri would rather avoid.

Scolieri said his upperclassmen took control in the locker room after the loss.

“They were telling the team to put the loss behind them, since there was nothing they could do about it,” Scolieri said. “I couldn't have said it any better myself. It is important to move on but not forget.”

Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or jeclark@tribweb.com.

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