Shaler hockey team's rally comes up short against Seneca Valley
Wins are at a premium in the PIHL this time of year, and with playoff seeding on everybody's mind, every team is focused on getting the win.
When Seneca Valley and Shaler squared off, the Titans needed a win to stay in the middle of the pack, and the Raiders had their sights set on a first-round bye.
The game was the tale of two periods, as Seneca Valley took a 2-0 lead out of the first on goals from Peter Kippin and Casey Kramer, both power-play scores.
In the second, Andrew Gagnon gave the Titans a 3-0 lead off a Chris Marziotto assist.
“Chris and Brendan (McFarlane) set a screen, and the goalie never saw it,” Gagnon said. “It was not a great shot, but it went in.”
Following four Seneca Valley power plays, Shaler got a crack at the man advantage, and Ryan Fischerkeller took a Luke Grossman pass and cut the deficit to 3-1. Grossman owned final seven minutes of regulation, scoring two goals, including the tying score with 11 seconds left.
“He came right out of the box, and the middle of the ice was open,” Shaler coach Curt Hetz said.
It seemed the tie gave the Titans the momentum, but Seneca Valley had one strike left in it for overtime.
“We were mad we let that last goal in, and we wanted to get a quick score in overtime,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon did just that with a shot early in the extra period, giving Seneca Valley a 4-3 win.
“We were able to get up early, but got complacent,” Seneca Valley coach Anthony Raco said. “We got a little frustrated in the second period and took some slashing penalties, retaliating on some things.
“When you are on the penalty kill, weather they score or not, they are able to dictate the pace of the game.”
Hetz said the Raiders took away the boards early, and forced him and the Titans to adjust.
“Those early penalties put us in a hole,” Hetz said. “Then we missed on four breakaways. If we eliminate one penalty or score on one break away, we could have won the game.”
The win put the Raiders in a position to earn a bye if they defeated Mt. Lebanon on Monday. Results of that game were unavailable as of press time.
“This win boosts our confidence, and we have some momentum on the power play,” Gagnon said.
Raco said he was pleased with the scoring on the power play but added that the team has to get better at scoring in 5-on-5 situations as the playoffs approach.
Shaler wants to avoid running into a buzzsaw in the first round, so Hetz wants to win all three games remaining. He said a 2-1 mark should put his team in a decent position, however.
“If this team plays their ‘A' game, we can beat anyone,” Hetz said, citing a 2-1 win over North Allegheny last week. “The first game, anything can happen, and the second comes down to goaltending … Vinny (Evans) is playing really well right now.”
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.