Plum topples Moon in AA season opener
The Plum varsity ice hockey team didn't waste any time jumping out to a lead against Moon in the teams' PIHL Class AA season opener Monday at Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington.
Junior David Stonebraker and senior Joe Randazzo scored goals 51 seconds apart about a third of the way through the first period to stake the Mustangs to a 2-0 lead.
Plum went on to score one more time in the first period, once in the second and two more times in the third for a 6-2 victory over the Tigers.
“We talked in the locker room about the boys coming out strong and setting the tone,” Plum head coach Dave Stonebraker said.
“They did a nice job with that. There were a couple of minutes early on where we were on our heels, and then we settled down and started playing our game.”
Randazzo scored his second goal of the game at the 8:44 mark of the first period as Plum continued to take control.
Thomas Kelsesky scored Plum's lone goal of the second period. It was a shorthanded score less than three minutes after Moon tallied a goal on the power play, and it made the score 4-1.
Stonebraker added a pair of goals in the third period to complete a hat trick.
“It was nice to get (the hat trick),” the younger Stonebraker said.
“I don't go out looking for a hat trick. I just want to score goals and help the team when I can. Everyone played consistent and played hard the whole game. It was a nice win for us.”
Kelsesky, Stonebraker, Zach Kuhn, Zach Nolan and Dillon Joyce each tallied an assist for the Mustangs, who fired off 25 shots in the game.
Plum goaltender James Borriello, the backup to the now-graduated Taylor Cestra for a couple of seasons, now is the starter between the pipes, and he stopped 18 of the 20 Moon shots he faced on Monday.
Both of Moon's goals were on the power play.
“James played a nice game,” coach Stonebraker said. “He was there when we needed him. He's a confident influence on the team.
“The defense has some work to do, but they showed some nice things. There is tremendous upside to the young defensemen that we have.”
Plum's young lineup Monday featured several call-ups from the junior varsity team. They were Joyce, Nolan Puhala, Anthony Borriello, Ryan Loebig and backup goaltender Ted Townsend.
“The call-ups were calm and confident in their play,” coach Stonebraker said.
“They made some nice decisions where they weren't rushing the play. That's exactly what we were looking for. We just wanted everyone to play a smart game, no matter who they were.”
Coach Stonebraker said Monday's win was a good start to the season.
“The team knows they are young and still developing,” he said.
“The win gives the team some confidence and some believability in the style of play and the system we are running. They can see the way they played, and it turned out to be a win. It wasn't a perfect game, but it is something they can build on. They can draw on this experience the next time they are on the ice.”
That next time is Thursday, as the Mustangs will face defending PIHL Class AA and Pennsylvania state champion Latrobe.
The game, set for Kirk S. Nevin Arena in Greensburg, is scheduled to start at 9:15 p.m.
Plum hosts Franklin Regional at Pittsburgh Ice Arena on Monday at 9 p.m.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.