Ford City hockey advances to Chiefs Cup final
By Bill West
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 11:27 p.m.
An uncertain future looms for Ford City's hockey team. But the possible final chapter for the Sabers is building toward quite a flourish.
With a 4-3 home win over Hollidaysburg (15-6-1) at the Belmont Complex, No. 1 seed Ford City (19-2-1) advanced to the championship game of the PIHL Open Class Chiefs Division. It'll play No. 2 Indiana (19-2-1) at 8 p.m. Thursday at Robert Morris University's Island Sports Center for the Chiefs Cup as well as for a spot in the Open Class finals, where the Nailers Division champion awaits.
After almost two full periods Tuesday night, Ford City found itself in jeopardy of enduring a semifinal-round upset for the second straight season. A No. 1 seed last winter, it was stunned by Greensburg Salem.
"The second period we came out sloppy," Ford City coach Glen Kilgore said. "They were on the bench (complaining) about things not going their way, and they srtated talking about last year and things that happened late in that game."
Eric Lindey eased the Sabers' anxiety when he tied the score at 2-2 with a power-play goal with 1:18 left in the second period.
Another power-play goal put Ford City ahead, 3-2, one minute into the third period. Just 15 seconds into the penalty, Eli Thompson poked in a loose puck as he waited on the backside of a scramble in the crease.
"I knew getting at their goalie, they wouldn't like it, and they'd retaliate and take a stupid penalty," Thompson said. "Then we took advantage."
Jesse Valasek added what proved to be a pivotal insurance goal with 4:58 left in the game. His tally became the game-winner after Brandon Ritchey scored a power-play goal with 1:04 remaining to get a hat trick and cut Hollidaysburg's deficit to one.
Valasek, Lindey, Joe Cippel, Cody Atherton and goaltender Adam Cogley make up the team's senior class. Kilgore reminded them that they might represent the program's final group of seniors. In advance of the Armstrong School District's plan, the Sabers will merge with Kittanning's hockey team, though no date has been finalized.
"The change could be coming," Kilgore said. "What better way to go out."
Cogley finished with 21 saves. Hollidaysburg's home-run pass approach to offense created several breakaway opportunities for the Tigers, who scored their first and second goals on rushes.
While his coach and teammates praised his performance, Cogley critiqued himself somewhat harshly.
"I hope I got the best of (Hollidaysburg) late," he said, "because they certainly made me look stupid in the first two periods."
Hollidaysburg goalie Matt Gregory, in just his second game back after missing two-plus months with concussion symptoms, made 25 saves, including 10 in the first period.
"He's played us tough every time we've played him in the last two or three years," Kilgore said.
Luke Gross finally broke through for Ford City and tied the score at 1-1 with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle early in the second period.
Ritchey answered a minute later with a goal that put Hollidaysburg back ahead.
"They brought their game tonight," Kilgore said. "They wanted it as much as we did. We just took advantage of a couple opportunities they gave us."
Hollidaysburg coach Brad Blair said the Tigers' strong start boosted his confidence, and it stood in contrast to their poor performance early in a 6-5 double-overtime victory against Keystone Oaks in the quarterfinals. But the Belmont Complex remained a house of horror for Blair, a third-year coach whose involvement with Hollidaysburg stretches back six seasons.
"We've never won in this building," Blair said. "So we knew what we were getting into here."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Memo confirms VA Pittsburgh officials knew of Legionella threat long before made public
- Greensburg man lending his expertise to new cable series ‘UFO Files’
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Police charge Westmoreland County priest in $124,000 theft case
- News Alert
- Time is ripe for this year’s Taste of Westmoreland
- Italian wines, cheeses offer a pleasant break from doldrums
- Judge denies former city police Chief Nate Harper’s appeal
- Mini cheesecakes are easy, impressive, gluten-free