Penalty kill key for Plum in PIHL playoff opener
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Nine penalty kills and outstanding play in goal proved to be the difference as the Plum Mustangs won their opening round PIHL Class AA playoff game over North Hills, 6-3.
The Plum defense kept the Indians off the scoreboard during a frantic third period when North Hills had a two-man advantage for two minutes, 45 seconds.
Mustangs goaltender Taylor Cestra made some superb saves to keep Plum's season alive. She stopped 45 of 48 shots, and the game-winning goal was scored by freshman Zach Nolan, playing in his first varsity playoff game, at New Kensington's Pittsburgh Ice Arena, formerly known as Valley Sports Complex.
No. 8 Plum (9-10-1) plays top-seeded Bishop Canevin in the quarterfinals Wednesday night at 7:10 at the Mt. Lebanon Ice Arena.
“It's not the recipe we'd like for a win, but we'll take it.” Plum coach Dave Stonebreaker said. “We have been working very hard in keeping the shots down, and we didn't play a very good defensive game tonight.”
“I was so nervous and tired there,” Cresta said. “I had to move back and forth. I was just glad I was saving them.”
With the score knotted at 3-3 with 1:21 to go in the second period, Nolan lifted a shot from about 50 feet away in front of the Plum bench.
The shot found its way over the shoulder of North Hills goaltender Max Sikorski to give the Mustangs the lead for good.
“Sometimes fate has a way, and that's a freshman call-up getting the game-winning goal in his first playoff game,” Stonebreaker said. “He's a star tonight, and we're proud of him.”
Cresta, a PIHL all-star, didn't want to see her career end Monday night in her last home game.
“These guys are great. I couldn't be here without them. They're my rock,” she said. “This is my last year of boys hockey, and I'm glad we got the win.”
Cresta now has 692 saves on the season.
“That's a credit to the players we had on the ice during the penalty kills,” Stonebreaker said. “We wanted to keep that two-goal margin, and they realized what was on the line.”
Andrew Pagano had scored the fifth Plum goal when the puck got behind Sikorski and rolled on its side into the Indians goal with 12:01 left in the game.
Andrew Walters scored a second-period goal for the Mustangs, his 37th on the season.
Joe Randazzo had two goals for Plum, giving him 17 for the season.
Ninth-seeded North Hills finished the season at 8-12.
George Guido 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.
- Armstrong hockey earns another trip to the semifinals
- Mars’ persistence pays off in 7-0 victory over Freeport
- Deer Lakes rolls to PIHL playoff win
- Quaker Valley leaning on power play in PIHL playoffs
- No excuses made for Plum hockey’s tough season
- Hempfield hockey team bolts to big lead, tops Thomas Jefferson, 7-4