PIHL Penguins Cup favorites share defensive mentality
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It's arguable, in some corners, that top seeds Peters Township, Bishop Canevin and Quaker Valley are the undisputed best teams in their respective PIHL classifications.
What's not is that the Indians (Class AAA), Crusaders (Class AA) and Quakers (Class A) enter the postseason as the hottest.
And that no one is playing better defense in recent weeks, either.
Peters Township enters the Penguins Cup playoffs that begin Monday on a 13-game winning streak, and Bishop Canevin on a 10-game run. Quaker Valley trumps both — the Quakers finished the regular season 22-0 and have won 30 in a row dating to last year. Quaker Valley is unbeaten in its past 43 games, having most recently lost Nov. 3, 2011.
A common theme among these streaking No. 1 seeds? Sparkling goals-against averages. Quaker Valley (0.95) and Bishop Canevin (1.89) each lead its respective enrollment classification in that category.
Peters Township ranked third in Class AAA (2.38) — but that number drops to 2.00 for the Indians during their win streak, which began Dec. 17.
The Quakers, Crusaders and Indians haven't won a Penguins Cup champion yet — but the defense they displayed during the regular season has put each in the best position to make a run at one. In the PIHL playoffs, the highest-seeded team faces the lowest remaining seed in each round.
“It's no secret the math that the fewer you give up, the better chance you have at winning the game,” Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said.
“Early on, it was (goalie Nikita Meskin) making some key saves while we were allowing opportunities, but one of the reasons our goals-against is so low is we have a lot of offensive zone puck possession. That helps to keep shots on goal down. We really try to manage the puck well enough that we're not allowing quality chances, and I think we've done a better job in the second half of the season.”
Each No. 1 seed is blessed with quality goaltending — Quaker Valley's Jonathan Pijar and Parker Sherry, Bishop Canevin's Meskin and Ryan Tucker, and Peters Township's Brian Baker.
“We talk about it all the time,” Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. “It's not just a goal scored against a goalie and not just against a defense. It's not even just what happened in defensive zone — it's all the things that led back in the flow of hockey. It's a matter of just being conscious of that all the time.”
PIHL first-round games are Monday and Tuesday, with two quarterfinals in each class Wednesday and Thursday.
Higher-seeded teams host games in the first two rounds, but the semifinals are next week at the RMU Island Sports Center. A championship tripleheader is scheduled for March 20 at Consol Energy Center.
Should any or all of the No. 1 seeds play that day on the Penguins' home ice, it probably won't come as much of a surprise. The three teams combined for two Penguins Cups, two Pennsylvania Cup state championships and four appearances in the Penguins Cup title games over the previous two seasons.
Quaker Valley is the defending state champion, Bishop Canevin won the 2011 state title and Peters Township has played in a Penguins Cup final in each of the two years since the games were moved to Consol.
“We feel happy with how we're playing and confident — but the key is not being overconfident,” Quakers coach Kevin Quinn said. “And know that any given night as a group, you've got to be good in all areas.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
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.
- Reagan shooter Hinckley closer to permanent freedom
- Steelers won’t be backed into a corner at NFL Draft
- Crosby’s 2 goals lift Penguins past Rangers, even series
- Fights reported, shots fired outside Monroeville Mall restaurant
- Sutter steps up for Penguins in series-tying victory
- Eastbound Parkway West to reopen Sunday morning
- Starkey: Taylor’s type fading away
- Marte jump-starts Pirates in win over Brewers
- Crosby says Edmonton would be good spot for prospective top pick McDavid
- Boscov’s could help sustain decade-old Pittsburgh Mills
- Use of multiple contractors could leave oil, gas operators open to hackers