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PIHL releases tentative alignment for four classifications

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In about a month and a half, the teams in the PIHL's four classifications will hit the ice for preseason practices.

The St. Margarets Fall Faceoff tournament and other preseason games will be here before anyone realizes it, and fans of high school hockey will be trying to stay warm in chilly arenas rather than trying to stay cool now in warm and humid conditions.

PIHL officials recently released a tentative alignment for the 2013-14 season, and there are some changes from the most recent campaign.

Plum and Gateway were two of the teams in Class AA last year, but the Gators, after three seasons in AA, announced in June that they would play in the Open class this upcoming season.

Gateway head coach Gene Perhac, citing a young and inexperienced varsity team for the 2013-14 campaign, discussed the move with other team officials and felt it was in the best interest of the program to go in this direction.

The plan, Perhac said, is to be in the Open class for one season and then move back to AA.

Gateway, which graduated several key players from the 2012-13 team, went 8-11 in the AA regular season and qualified for the playoffs.

The Gators will be one of 24 teams in the Open Class and will play in Division 4 of the Northeast Conference with Keystone Oaks, Baldwin, Carrick, Frazier and Ringgold.

Gateway will play each division foe twice, and it also will play single or home-and-away games against Indiana, Greensburg Salem, Greensburg Central Catholic, Hempfield, Altoona and Connellsville in Division 3 of the Northeast Conference.

Greensburg Central Catholic dropped down to the Open class from Class A. The Centurions were 0-22 last season.

Ford City, which won the Open class title over Wheeling Park in early March, is no longer in the Open class because there no longer is a Ford City hockey team.

The Sabers combined with Kittanning, a Class A member last year, to form Armstrong, and that combination will take to the ice in AA.

Gateway's former home, Class AA, is down to 12 teams from 14 last year.

As the Gators go to the Open class and Armstrong joins AA, Pine-Richland moves back to AAA.

The Rams finished the 2012-13 regular season 14-4-1 and made it to the Penguins Cup championship game before falling to Latrobe, 5-0.

Plum shared a section with Pine-Richland, as well as Hampton, last season.

This year, the Mustangs will be in the same section as Latrobe and Franklin Regional.

Plum saw its 2012-13 season come to an end after a 5-2 loss to Bishop Canevin in the AA quarterfinals.

The Mustangs finished the regular season 8-10-1 and opened the playoffs with a 6-3 triumph over North Hills in the first round.

Armstrong will be in the same section as Erie Cathedral Prep and Hampton.

One AA section will have Moon, North Hills and Montour in a three-team pairing, and Bishop Canevin, Chartiers Valley and West Allegheny will share the same section.

Each team in AA will play 22 games and face the other 11 teams twice.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

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