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Ford City wins Chiefs Cup, Wheeling Park captures Nailers Cup

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 10:18 p.m.

Hats rained down on the ice, and Ford City lifted up a trophy.

Offense was the theme in Thursday's PIHL Open Class Chiefs Cup championship. Jesse Valasek's hat trick led the Sabers to a 7-4 win over Indiana at Robert Morris University's Island Sports Center.

“It's a great feeling. Losing in the playoffs last year, we just wanted to put it to them and show them what we could do,” Valasek said. “We had a bad taste in our mouth. We just wanted to put up as many points as possible.”

Luke Gross and Josh Oliver both scored two goals for Ford City (20-2-1), which moves on to meet Wheeling Park in Monday's Open Cup championship.

Oliver gave Ford City a 1-0 lead 6:10 into the game when his wrister from the right circle sailed past Indiana's Austin Moody. He found the back of the net again with 4:33 remaining to give the Sabers a 2-0 lead.

Valasek's slapper from the left circle gave Ford City a 3-0 edge with 2:05 on the clock.

The Indians (19-3-1), the defending Chiefs Cup champs, got one back 53 seconds later when Jess Bartholow skated across the slot and cashed in on a wrister.

Indiana trimmed the deficit to 3-2 just 50 seconds into the second on Noah Moody's slapper on a two-man advantage.

Ford City's Gross answered 19 seconds after that with a short-handed goal. Knocked down at the top of the crease, he swatted it in from a seated position for a 4-2 lead.

Valasek snuck a shot inside the near post from a bad angle to give the Sabers a 5-2 lead with 10:58 remaining in the second.

The Indians crept back with 2:16 left in the second. Camden Lydick's goal cut the deficit to 5-3.

Following a defensive turnover, Indiana's Bartholow scored on the power play to make the score 5-4 with 27.3 seconds before intermission.

Gross tallied his second goal 5:59 into the third with a wrister to give the Sabers a 6-4 advantage. Valasek wrapped up the hat trick with an empty-net goal with 24.6 seconds to go.

Nailers Cup

Even short-handed, Wheeling Park rode its power play to the Nailers Cup championship.

The Patriots (19-4), who dressed 10 skaters and a goalie, used three power-play goals to hold off Morgantown, 4-3.

Ian McArdle, a senior, was a presence in front of the net. He scored all three of his man-advantage goals off rebounds.

“Special teams proved to be the difference,” he said. “We had a lot of good shots from the defensemen coming in, and I was just able to bury some rebounds. That's a credit to my teammates.”

Wheeling Park, which lost its two regular-season meetings to the Mohawks, never trailed. The Patriots held a 2-1 lead after the second. Morgantown (18-3-2) managed to even the score at 3 with two power-play goals. However, McArdle completed the hat trick with 2:33 remaining when he swept in a loose puck.

Nicco Catalano had the Patriots' other goal. Connor Leone, Cullen Gookin and Alex Battin all scored for Morgantown.

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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