TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Planets make statement with win

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Mars forward Paul Maust celebrates with Kyle Thomas after scoring the game-winning goal against Quaker Valley during the third period on Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Mars forward Paul Maust celebrates with Kyle Thomas after scoring the game-winning goal against Quaker Valley during the third period on Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Mars forward Paul Maust breaks away up-ice with Kyle Thomas during the third period against Quaker Valley on Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale. Maust is expected to play for Mars again this season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Mars forward Paul Maust breaks away up-ice with Kyle Thomas during the third period against Quaker Valley on Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale. Maust is expected to play for Mars again this season.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Mars goalie Tyler Spreng celebrates after defeating Quaker Valley on Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Mars goalie Tyler Spreng celebrates after defeating Quaker Valley on Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale.

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Joe Sager
Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, 3:24 p.m.
 

Early in the PIHL season, the Mars hockey team proved it is one of the best teams in Class A once again.

Annually, the Planets are among contenders for the Penguins Cup championship. They've played for the past six titles and won three. Their thrilling 4-3 win over Quaker Valley on Nov. 26 showed they are among the favorites to return to Consol Energy Center again this season.

Mars, 5-1 in PIHL play, rallied from a two-goal deficit against the Quakers and won the game on Paul Maust's breakaway goal with 1:40 left in regulation.

“It was a huge win for us,” said Mars forward Nick Makozy, who leads the team with seven goals and 13 points. “We were really excited.”

The victory snapped the Planets' five-game losing streak to their rivals. It ended Quaker Valley's 51-game unbeaten streak against PIHL competition, too. The Quakers' last league loss came Nov. 3, 2011, against Mars, also a 4-3 decision. And the Planets triumphed this time with a limited roster as Ian Houk-Graves, Trevor Tisdale and Noah Master did not dress for the game.

“We came together nicely. We ran a short bench for a lot of that game,” Mars coach Steve Meyers said. “After three years, we caught onto what they do, and we had a nice game plan. We got some good goaltending and nice breaks and were able to pull it out at the end.”

Quaker Valley jumped to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from Jimmy Perkins. However, Makozy responded with two goals, the second coming with 35 seconds remaining in the period.

“It was a slow start. ... For whatever reason, the last couple years we've been in awe of them. Guys were caught watching and reacting. The guys had some butterflies and took some penalties early and (Quaker Valley) capitalized on them. You just can't leave a guy like Jimmy alone,” Meyers said. “We got a nice power-play goal from Nick and he had a carbon copy of it later.

“Once it became 2-2, it elevated the mood of the boys, and we thought we could play with them. Then, we focused on Perkins and tried to get a body on him every time he touched the puck.”

Kyle Thomas put Mars ahead, 3-2, with 5:12 left in the second period, but the Quakers responded with Connor Quinn's goal 52 seconds later.

“The third goal was a bad break. We had a turnover and Connor Quinn scored on a nice backhand. The boys knew it was kind of a fluky play. We had carried the play for a lot of that period and nobody got down,” Meyers said. “In past years, we probably would have panicked after that. Some guys are getting older and realized those things happen and you can't just panic. I think experience really kicked in with the young guys there.”

Maust, a freshman, provided the winner, slipping free for a breakaway for his first PIHL goal.

“He was playing lights-out all night,” Meyers said. “I think he blocked a shot and took off and got a nice pass. You have to be happy for him.”

The Planets are in the midst of almost a two-week break. They return to the ice Tuesday against Serra Catholic. Then, they play five games in a 10-day span before a holiday break.

“It'll be tough. We're on the ice twice a week (for practice) and most of the kids are in the gym every day working out. It'll be tough getting back into that mindset, though,” Makozy said. “I love (having so many games in such a short time), personally. Anytime I can get on the ice, I'll take it.”

Mars hopes to continue its strong play. After falling to Thomas Jefferson, 6-2, to open PIHL play, the Planets have won their past five.

“(Beating Quaker Valley) just proves how close Single-A is this year. Nobody is going to run away with things, I don't think. We watch the scoreboards and standings and seeding is important, but not getting the top seed is not the end of the world,” Meyers said. “We just try to get better every game. Some of our young guys are still learning where to be in certain situations. We can't worry about bad breaks and bounces. If we're doing the right things, more often than not, we'll be successful.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Student ‘geek squad’ to help train Steel Valley classmates on iPads
  2. Road, entrance may ease traffic, Dayton Fair officials say
  3. Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
  4. One Direction brings the thrills to Heinz Field audience
  5. 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
  6. Law enforcement often feels overwhelmed by Mon Valley’s heroin epidemic
  7. Steelers notebook: WR Bryant sidelined after minor procedure on right elbow
  8. Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
  9. Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills
  10. Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
  11. Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary