Pine-Richland falls to Seneca Valley in tight game
With both squads entering at 4-3, the Seneca Valley and Pine-Richland hockey teams wanted to begin to build momentum before the holiday break.
The Raiders won 4-3 to move their winning streak to three games. Despite the loss, Rams coach Mike Bagnato said his team has a lot to feel good about moving forward.
The scoring began immediately when Pine-Richland's Nick Matelan got a feed from Ryan Cole 40 seconds into the game to give the Rams a 1-0 advantage.
Seneca Valley answered nine seconds later when captain Chris Marziotto buried the puck in the Pine-Richland net off assists from Spencer Schutte and Alex Crilley.
The Rams got the lead back when Lars Voit took a pass from Nick Carnovale and went top shelf on Seneca Valley goalie Tanner Pfeffer.
Seneca Valley answered just before the period ended when Peter Kipin scored his first goal.
The second period was a back-and-fourth affair, but the tie was broken just before the break when Seneca Valley's Parker Faix scored to give the Raiders a 3-2 edge.
The squads again played tough defense and limited each other's ability to create space, but the Rams took two penalties 30 seconds apart, giving the Raiders a 5-on-3 advantage.
With an opportunity to break open a close game, Seneca Valley coach Anthony Raco called timeout and gathered his team.
“We wanted to out shoot them, and we did a better job each period,” Raco said. “(During the timeout) I told them to play a box-and-one. It is a pitch and catch, and I was hoping Peter could find the back side open.”
Raco's call was the correct one as Kipin was the recipient of Andrew Gagnon and Marziotto assists and made it count.
“It was a tough shot,” Raco said. “Peter is a lefty, and it was a tough shot. I was glad to see him capitalize on it.”
Kipin said this shot was something he worked on by himself in addition to practice time.
“I got a good angle and was able to redirect it,” Kipin said. “I just did what coach said: go to the back side and then move up in the slot.”
The goal gave what appeared to be enough room to close out the game, but Pine-Richland defender Kyle Cunningham nearly tied it. Cunningham took advantage of a power-play chance and cut the lead to 4-3 with about 20 seconds left in regulation.
“I have some plays for coming off the faceoffs depending on a couple of things,” Bagnato said. “The play almost worked, and it gave us some momentum.”
Cunningham had his stick on the puck again, but the Raiders crashed on him and the game ended.
“We tried to match their top line,” Raco said. “I thought we did a good job of that, and we committed to the backcheck to take away their third option.”
The Raiders crashed the net frequently at points, something Pine-Richland coach Mike Bagnato pointed out after the game.
“It was a very good game,” Bagnato said. “They closed down on our breakout, and I thought we panicked a couple of times.
“They just did a better job of getting to the net than we did. We tended to take the long way around, and when we made a mistake, they capitalized.”
Bagnato said in games like this, every little error can mushroom into something bigger.
“You can't take two penalties late,” Bagnato said. “They did not mean to take those penalties, but it takes away from our opportunity to score.”
The task at hand for Bagnato and his staff is keeping the team positive.
“This is a tough division, and I am happy with where we are right now,” he said. “We just have to go out and do our thing.”
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 724-779-6979 or email@example.com.