Ford City takes down Wheeling Park for Open Class title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
At the bottom of Ford City's post-buzzer dogpile lay the player whose performance in the cage early in Monday night's PIHL Open Class championship gave the Sabers so much of their confidence.
Four minutes into the Sabers' 9-4 win over Wheeling Park at Robert Morris University's Island Sports Center, senior goaltender Adam Cogley stared down a clean, close-range shot from Wheeling Park's Nicco Catalano and snagged it out of the air with his glove hand.
Two minutes later, he fired his leg out to deny Ian McArdle's backhand attempt during an uncontested breakaway.
And less than four minutes into the second period, another golden scoring chance for Catalano ended with a save by Cogley.
“I knew I didn't want to get nervous coming into this game,” Cogley said. “Obviously they're going to get chances, and when my nerves get worked up, I don't do too good. … I really didn't care whether I made one save or 20 saves, as long as I made that one when it counted.”
With the victory, Ford City (21-2-1), the Chiefs division champion, secured its second Open Class title in five seasons.
“From July until now, they've given me everything I've asked from them,” Ford City coach Glen Kilgore said.
“Adam has been unbelievable all playoffs long. Hollidaysburg (in the Open Class quarterfinals), he stood on his head. Indiana (in the semifinals), what can I say about that game, it was probably one of the most exciting games I've ever seen.”
Wheeling Park, the Nailers division winner, finished the year 19-5.
“It was tough to get such good opportunities and not be able to capitalize on them,” Wheeling Park coach Brian Syrylo said. “If definitely changed the momentum by not capitalizing in those instances.
“I think if a few of those go in, then we're able to bounce back. But they did a good job at burying the puck when they had to.”
As Cogley built up confidence at one end of the rink early in Monday's contest, the Sabers' shooters grew assured at the other.
Josh Oliver and Jesse Valasek each scored less than eight minutes into the first period.
“We had a lot of butterflies coming into this game,” Valasek said. “We were confident, but we also weren't going to take them lightly. … Those two goals were huge and took away the butterflies.”
An awkward shot by Michael Grove, who sent the puck toward the net as he spun around to face his target, beat Cogley and cut Wheeling Park's deficit to one.
Eric Lindey extended Ford City's lead back to two less than two minutes into the second period.
Grove slipped another shot by Cogley while both teams had four skaters on the ice with 4:02 left in the second.
Any hopes of a Wheeling Park comeback faded during a four-minute stretch that spanned the end of the second period and the start of the third. Valasek, Oliver and Lindey each scored to give Ford City a four-goal lead, and Luke Gross made it 7-2 with 7:15 left in the game.
The scoring spree brought Ford City's sizeable student section to life, and the fans kept the energy in favor of their team as Wheeling Park and the Sabers traded late-game goals.
“Since day one, we've had good fan support in the playoffs,” said assistant Doug Anthony, the team's coach during the championship run in 2009. “They follow us well. This group here might have the (2008-09) group (beat). But the two years we won, the support was just amazing.”
Ford City might merge its program with Kittanning next season. The Sabers came back into existence for the 2007-08 season and joined the Open Class, which was created to help burgeoning programs develop depth. Relying on players from districts northeast of Pittsburgh, Ford City has not accumulated enough players from its own school to field a group that could compete as a “pure” PIHL team.
“If this is the last year for Ford City hockey, what better way than to go out by hanging at banner at the Belmont,” Kilgore said. “Like I told the kids in the locker room, it doesn't matter what school you're from. These kids here, they bleed purple and gold.”
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.
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Pittsburgh police doubling up on duty after potential threats
- Armstrong contributes to project to replace Kittanning retaining wall
- Pittsburgh mayor Peduto goes ‘Undercover’ for CBS reality show
- Steelers-Bengals game to start at 8:30 p.m.
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Allegheny County district attorney prosecutors move on to state office
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins