North Allegheny, Bethel Park ready to renew ice rivalry
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The North Allegheny and Bethel Park hockey teams are close — in ability level and off the ice.
When the No. 2 seed Black Hawks (17-5) play the No. 3 Tigers (16-4-2) in the second of two PIHL Penguins Cup Class AAA semifinals 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at the RMU Island Sports Center, it will be the sixth time over the past calendar year they will meet.
The Tigers and Black Hawks have reached overtime in the five most recent meetings.
“Every time we play them, we know it's going to be a great hockey game,” Bethel Park coach Jim McVay said.
McVay would know — he coaches a South Hills Amateur Hockey Association Midget U18 AA team that has North Allegheny standouts Cody Black, Charles Johnson and Harry Kramer on its roster. Tigers coach Jim Black is one of McVay's assistants.
Five Bethel Park players are on the SHAHA team, leading to the potentially awkward situation of having many of the better Black Hawks and Tigers cohabitating much of this past weekend (for the state Tier II tournament) just days before an intensely contested showdown with a trip to Consol Energy Center for the championship game on the line.
“My son (Cody) spent the majority of the day at (Bethel Park captain) Derek Lesnak's house,” Jim Black said Friday. “They're good friends and at this point playing on the same team together. But when the puck drops (Wednesday), you put that aside. They both have the same goals in mind — they want to win.”
Lesnak's Black Hawks beat Black's Tigers in triple overtime of a quarterfinal last season, beginning Bethel Park's run to its seventh Penguins Cup.
The teams also played an overtime game 2 1⁄2 weeks ago, with Bethel Park winning the regular-season finale, 5-4.
The other Class AAA semifinal, scheduled for a 5:45 p.m. faceoff Wednesday, is No. 1 Peters Township (18-4) against No. 5 State College (16-7). The Indians are trying to advance to a Penguins Cup title game for the third consecutive year.
Another rematch from a quarterfinal last season in this season's semifinals is in Class AA. No. 1 Bishop Canevin (17-1-2) will face No. 4 Pine-Richland (15-4-1) 7 p.m. Tuesday almost a year to the day since the Rams beat the then-defending state champion Crusaders, 5-1.
Bishop Canevin won the lone meeting during this regular season, 2-1 — but that was more than four months ago in the season opener Oct. 29.
“That was one of the better games I've been involved in,” Rams coach Mike Bagnato said. “Both teams played very well, both goalies played well. We had shots, and it was very close.”
The nightcap Tuesday is No. 2 Latrobe (17-3) against No. 3 Chartiers Valley (15-4-1) at 9 p.m. The Wildcats are trying to reach a Penguins Cup final for the first time since winning three consecutive state championships from 2008-10.
Defending state champion Quaker Valley made it through 20 games this season largely untested. When the Quakers were finally pushed to the limit, it was semifinal opponent Kittanning doing the testing.
No. 1 Quaker Valley (23-0) was winning games by an average of 7.4 goals before the No. 6 Wildcats (14-8-1) forced overtime Feb. 22. Quaker Valley would prevail, 3-2 — and beat Kittanning again, 5-2, six days later. But those games accounted for two of the five times all season an opponent kept within three goals of the Quakers.
If anyone knows Quaker Valley isn't invincible, it's Kittanning.
“Obviously, they're good,” Wildcats coach Jamie King said of Quaker Valley. “They're just talented, they're deep and they roll three lines, just keep rolling players at you. They really just don't have any weaknesses — that's probably they're biggest strength.”
Two hours before the Quakers and Wildcats face off on Neville Island 8 p.m. Monday, No. 2 Mars (18-3-1) will play No. 4 Westmont Hilltop (15-7-1) for the right to advance to its sixth consecutive Penguins Cup championship game.
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.
- Motorcyclist injured in Westmoreland flown to Pittsburgh
- Dude’s The Man captures Adios at The Meadows
- Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
- 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
- 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
- Monongahela uses modern technology to connect people to the city’s historic past
- Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
- Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
- Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
- Dek hockey summer camp ranks swell thanks to social media
- Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium