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Gateway closes regular season with Franklin Regional, focus on PIHL playoffs

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 4:54 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Plum's #18 Thomas 'TJ' Kelsesky attempts to score against Gateway's #89 Tyler Perhac during the hockey game at Valley Sports Complex in New Kensington on Monday February 2, 2013. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

The Gateway varsity ice hockey team has one game remaining in the regular-season — Thursday against Franklin Regional at Center Ice Arena in Delmont — and then it is off to the PIHL Class AA playoffs.

“We can't wait for the end of the season and the start of the playoffs,” Gateway head coach Gene Perhac said. “We just want to come out of the (Franklin Regional) game looking sharp, and we want to stay healthy and be smart with the way we play.”

Gateway scrimmaged Fox Chapel on Monday.

A number of the younger players got a lot of ice time, and Perhac said he wanted his team to have another opportunity to stay sharp.

The Gators are 7-11-0 overall heading into Thursday's 7:45 p.m. start time with Franklin Regional.

“It is Franklin's senior night, and they will play the game with nothing to lose,” Perhac said.

The Panthers suffered a 9-2 loss to Montour on Monday in a battle of the final two winless teams in AA.

The top six seeds for the 10-team playoffs receive byes to the quarterfinals.

The No. 7 seed draws the tenth seed, while the eighth and ninth seeds do battle in the first round.

When the first round concludes, the eight remaining teams are reseeded for the quarterfinals.

Gateway is locked into the 10th playoff spot.

The Gators will play either Hampton or Moon in the first round next week.

The Talbots currently are in the seventh spot with 22 points (10-7-2), and their regular-season is over.

Moon (9-6-3) is one point behind Hampton, but the Tigers have one more game left to play — Thursday against Montour at 8:30 p.m. at the Airport Ice Arena.

Plum and North Hills will be the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, and the Mustangs and Indians will play in the other first-round game.

Regardless of who Gateway faces in the first round, Perhac knows his team will be ready and confident.

The Gators own a 3-1 win over Pine-Richland this season, and the Rams enter the playoffs as the third seed.

“It's a one-and-done format, and anything can happen,” Perhac said.

“Last year, we knocked off Latrobe and West Allegheny in the regular season, and both were among the top teams in AA. West A won it all.

“The win over Pine-Richland this year knocked them out of one of the top spots. We know if we play our best, anything can happen.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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