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PIHL semifinals roundup: Pine-Richland secures Penguins Cup upset in OT

Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin senior Matthew Bilski (left) battles for a puck with Pine Richland junior Nick Jenkins during the PIHL Class AA semifinals Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at Robert Morris University's Island Sports Center.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 10:12 p.m.
 

Pine-Richland forward Dillon Kessey's overtime goal against Bishop Canevin in the Class AA Penguins Cup semifinals may have been the biggest of his career.

But the senior wasn't sure it was a goal initially.

“I didn't know it went in,” Kessey said. “I looked at the referee and saw his hand signal. I was so excited. I can't describe it. We lost in the quarterfinals when I was a sophomore and last year in the semifinals. To get this is huge for us.”

The goal gave the fourth-seeded Rams a 3-2 overtime win over the top-seeded Crusaders and punched their ticket to Consol Energy Center.

Kessey's goal did not come without controversy. During the battle in front of the net, the cage moved at some point, but the PIHL officials awarded the game-winner to Pine-Richland, causing Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski to protest the call.

“The net moved,” Zielmanski said. “I didn't get an explanation. They just told me to get away.”

Bishop Canevin's Brennen Adams scored on a power play in the first period to give his squad the lead, but Pine-Richland responded with a power-play goal from Ryan Cole a minute later.

The Crusaders took the lead on Adams' second power-play goal in the second period.

But an unassisted Matthew Cole score tied it at 2-2 midway through the third and seemed to swing the momentum in favor of the Rams.

“I am so proud of these kids,” Pine-Richland coach Mike Bagnato said. “They played their hearts out tonight and found a way to win.”

It was the second game between the teams this season. Bishop Canevin defeated Pine-Richland, 2-1, in the season opener.

“It is always a competitive game with them,” Zielmanski said. “They have some talent and played tough. I don't think any of their goals were particularly good. They seemed to bounce off a skate to an open man.”

Kessey led Pine-Richland with two points. Goalie Brendan Bagnato recorded 28 saves.

Pine-Richland will look to win its first Penguins Cup since the 2008 season. The Rams won three straight titles from 2006-08 but have not been in the title game since.

“My captains are in (the locker room) crying because they are so happy,” Bagnato said. “A lot of these kids were freshmen and sophomores when I took over the program. We have had through a lot of ups and downs. We got to the semifinals last year.

“Now it is my job to make sure they are ready to win the championship.”

Latrobe hangs on

The Latrobe hockey team is making a return to the Class AA Penguins Cup title game.

The second-seeded Wildcats, who won the Cup from 2008-10, defeated third-seeded Chartiers Valley, 3-2, to punch their ticket to Consol Energy Center next week.

Christopher Johnson opened the scoring for Latrobe eight minutes into the first period.

Second-period goals from Adam Ferguson and Dalton Hunter gave Latrobe a three-goal lead heading into intermission.

The Colts responded in the third period with power-play goals from Robert Ferrari and Anthony Franks but were unable to get the equalizer despite a late-game rally.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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