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Armstrong beats Chartiers Valley for 6th straight win

| Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, 11:51 p.m.

At the rate things are going, Armstrong High School might be built before its hockey team loses another game.

The Riverhawks had a strong night on the penalty kill and scored the final three goals of the game to win its sixth in a row, 8-4, over Chartiers Valley at the Mt. Lebanon Ice Center on Thursday night.

Christian Miller had three goals and two assists, and Hunter Grafton had two goals and two assists for Armstrong (6-2). Luke Gross added a momentum-swinging shorthanded goal in a 5-on-3 situation, and Jake Snyder and David Contrael also scored for the Riverhawks.

Alex Stevenson, Cullen McMahon, Tyler Stevenson and Derek Falcioni scored for Chartiers Valley (3-5).

“We're starting to layer more on in practice. Some people might be a little impatient, but there's a method to what we do,” Armstrong coach Doug Anthony said. “We said by Game 10 we'd be on our way, and this is the eighth game. It wasn't the smoothest game, but they played well tonight.”

Armstrong's special teams came up big.

Though Chartiers Valley had a 5-1 edge in power-play chances, each team finished with one power-play goal, and the Riverhawks' shorthanded tally loomed large.

The Riverhawks had a 3-2 lead when Chase Steiner and Nathan Grafton both took penalties in the late stages of the second period. Reduced to three skaters, Gross intercepted a soft pass near the Colts' blue line and raced down the ice for a breakaway goal to increase the lead to two.

“I was just playing aggressive on the penalty kill. Their guy spun to make a drop pass at the blue line, and I just read it and scored it,” Gross said. “Special teams are a big part of the game.

“We shut them down (on the power play) for the most part, and gettng a shorty is huge for momentum in a game.”

Chartiers Valley cut the lead to 4-3 on Tyler Stevenson's power play goal in a 5-on-4 situation, but Armstrong re-established the two-goal lead just before the second period ended.

Miller took a pass from Donovan Wichowski and raced toward the right side of the Colts' net.

He pulled both the goalie and defense toward him before dropping the puck back to Hunter Grafton, who scored into an open net with 7.2 seconds remaining.

“We've had a couple of 5-on-3 (short-handed) goals this year, and it really depletes the other team,” Anthony said. “Even though they ended up scoring on the power play, it was a push for us, and we kept the momentum.”

Although Miller and Hunter Grafton were again the top point scorers, Armstrong got a good game from its entire roster.

The Riverhawks third line of Snyder, Contrael and Jeffrey Jonovich put in some strong shifts against Chartiers Valley's top line, and the trio even connected for a first-period goal when Jonovich worked the puck from behind the net to find Snyder for the finish.

“It's really important for us to have balance, and those guys really know their role,” Anthony said.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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