Plum hockey gearing up for Armstrong rematch
By Michael Love
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The Plum varsity ice hockey team remembers what Armstrong did to it on home ice at Pittsburgh Ice Arena in November.
The Mustangs suffered a 7-2 loss to the newcomer to Class AA — a combination of the former Kittanning and Ford City squads.
The teams meet again Thursday, and the Plum players are confident they are not the same team that took that loss three months ago.
They hope to gain a measure of revenge when the puck drops at 6:15 p.m. at Belmont Ice in Kittanning.
The Mustangs are riding a four-game winning streak and have 25 points with an 11-5-3 record.
They defeated West Allegheny, 5-3, on Monday to complete a season sweep of the Indians.
Plum is averaging almost six goals over its past four games since a tough 3-2 loss to Chartiers Valley on Jan. 16.
The Mustangs earned some payback against the Colts on Feb. 3 with a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh Ice.
Armstrong, 12-4-1, has played two less games, and the team is tied with Plum for third place in AA with 25 points.
While Plum picked up two points Monday with its win over West Allegheny, Armstrong squandered a chance to do the same against Hampton.
Armstrong led 4-1 after two periods on home ice, but the visiting Talbots stormed back with five goals in the third period to help them forge a 6-6 tie.
The Mustangs had their hands full with West Allegheny.
Plum jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from junior David Stonebraker and sophomore Zach Nolan.
Nolan's goal with only one minute gone in the second period was on the power play and was assisted by Stonebraker and senior Joe Randazzo.
Freshmen Anthony Borriello and Dillon Joyce provided helpers on Stonebraker's first-period tally.
West Allegheny tied the game at two in the second, and the teams then traded goals for a 3-3 tie midway through the third period.
That's when the veterans for the Mustangs struck.
Stonebraker scored what turned out to be the eventual game-winning goal with the man advantage with just under six minutes left off an assist from Joyce. Randazzo then provided some insurance with an unassisted tally three minutes later.
West Allegheny outshot Plum, 39-26, but Mustangs junior netminder James Borriello made 36 saves for his 10th win of the season (10-3-1).
Senior Matt Rihn earned the first point of his varsity career Monday with an assist on Randazzo's goal late in the second period that gave Plum a 3-2 lead.
The Mustangs return to action Monday against North Hills at Pittsburgh Ice. Game time is 9 p.m.
Plum duo helps Northeast
Senior defenseman Zach Kuhn and James Borriello represented Plum on the Northeast squad in the AA all-star game Sunday at the RMU Island Sports Center.
The Mustangs duo helped the Northeast secure a 12-7 win.
Armstrong junior Christian Miller scored three goals and had three assists, while teammate Hunter Grafton had two goals and four assists.
Armstrong's Luke Gross had two goals, including the game-winner.
At first, it was open season on goaltenders as the teams combined for seven goals in the first half of the first period. That put both teams on a pace to score 42 combined goals.
Things settled down, however, especially in the third period, where the Northeast collected the only two goals. Borriello stopped all 17 shots he faced for the Northeast.
West Allegheny sophomore Jess Ligas scored a hat trick for the Southwest, and North Hills junior Brett Berner had a goal and three assists.
Randazzo and Stonebraker originally were selected to represent Plum with Borriello and Kuhn, but they had to bow out of the event because of commitments to their junior teams.
Freelance writer George Guido contributed to this report.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at email@example.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.
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