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Sewickley Academy enters ISHL playoffs with momentum

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Sam Duerr checks Kiski School's Eric Gold into the boards during game on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, at RMU Island Sports Center.

The Kiski School has been a thorn in the side of the Sewickley Academy hockey team this team.

Entering last week's game, the Cougars had dominated the series this season as they outscored the Panthers, 16-3, in the two previous games.

But with the seniors on the team taking to their home ice at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Complex for the final time, Sewickley Academy pulled off a 7-3 win last week over Kiski School.

“We couldn't generate any offense in the first two games,” Sewickley Academy coach Tyler Henk said. “We didn't stick to the game plan. But in this game, we shared the puck and got it in deep to generate more offense.”

Sewickley Academy waisted no time getting on the scoreboard as Willie Paul found the back of the net two minutes into the first period.

Goals from Cole Stine and Bobby Hapanowicz gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead by the end of the period.

“It was huge to keep the offense coming,” senior forward Alex Pfiefer said. “We have been up on teams plenty of times this year. After the first goal, we were able to shut them down. We didn't let them get any quick ones.”

Connor Zierden started the second period with a power-play goal from just inside the blue line. Kiski School cut into the four-goal deficit after an Eric Gold goal but a short-handed goal by Erik Dietrich kept Sewickley Academy comfortably ahead.

Goals from Paul and Pfiefer in the third period secured the victory.

“It feels really good to come out with a win because they beat us pretty bad a few times,” Zierden said. “It feels good to get back at them and always feels good to score a couple goals against a good team.”

A big change from previous games against the Kiski School this season was the amount of time the Panthers spent in the penalty box. In the team's last game, the Cougars skated away with an 8-2 win, which included four power-play goals.

In the 7-3 win last week, Sewickley Academy limited its mistakes and didn't allow any power-play goals.

“The power play is one of their strengths,” Henk said. “They rotate very well. It was good to stay out of the box as much as we could to keep them off the scoreboard.”

The win improved the Panthers to 7-5-1 overall and 6-3-1 in Independent School Hockey League play.

The win provides Sewickley Academy some momentum heading into the ISHL playoffs, which will be held this weekend. The team went 0-2 at the tournament last season and will look to reverse its fortunes this time around.

“It was an emotional win,” Dietrich said. “It should give us momentum and help our confidence. We know we have some skills and if we put in some hard work, we should hopefully finish the season strong.”

Pairings for the ISHL playoffs were unavailable at press time. The tournament will be held at the McKnight Hockey Center on the campus of Shady Side Academy.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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