Share This Page

Armstrong hockey team displays scoring prowess in victory

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 11:24 p.m.

With a chance to lock up the No. 3 seed in the Class AA playoffs, high-scoring Armstrong showed it can get things done in its own zone.

The Riverhawks took 15 total penalties but finished 12 for 12 on the penalty kill to pick up a 6-3 win over West Allegheny at Airport Ice Arena on Friday night.

Josh Oliver and Christian Miller both had two goals, and Taylor Smouse made 24 saves for Armstrong (14-5-1), which is locked into the third spot behind Bishop Canevin and Erie Cathedral Prep when the Penguins Cup playoffs begin in two weeks.

“It's nice having a home game the first (playoff) game. When you're at home, you have everyone there to cheer you on,” Smouse said. “And with Canevin in first, we don't have to play them until the finals if we get there, so it's nice where we are right now.”

Jess Ligas scored twice for West Allegheny (7-14-0), which was eliminated from the playoff hunt with the loss.

Armstrong pulled away with two late goals. But entering the final period, the Riverhawks had only a 2-0 lead on a breakout goal by Nick Long and a second-chance, short-handed tally by Miller. Penalties were a problem for the Riverhawks throughout the game, but they killed eight West Allegheny power plays, including 2:19 of 5-on-3 time, in the first two periods.

“To take 15 penalties and have two 5-on-3s and kill them off, they played well and fought through it,” Armstrong assistant coach Glen Kilgore said. “They kept skating hard, and the big thing we've been doing is trying to get sticks on pucks defensively. They did that well tonight.”

Jacob Snyder increased the lead to 3-0 with a rebound goal early in the third period. West Allegheny finally broke through in a 4-on-4 situation when Paul Hughes scored on a rebound with 8:51 left in the game.

Prior to that goal, Smouse looked unbeatable in net, and he still finished with a nice bounce-back game after struggling with back issues in a 7-6 win over Chartiers Valley on Thursday.

“Three or four of the goals (against Chartiers Valley), he couldn't really move,” Kilgore said. “He stood on his head tonight. He had a heck of a game, and even though he gave up three, there were a lot more chances he stopped. He got the game puck tonight.”

While Smouse stood tall in net, he also got a team effort in front of him on the penalty kill. Two of three 10-minute misconduct penalties against the Riverhawks were issued to defensemen.

“Our penalty kill is really good, and we're playing well all-around right now,” Smouse said. “I think we're just doing better at getting the puck out. Sometimes we keep it in our zone, and it takes more time away, but that can hurt us. Now we're getting the puck down in their zone more.”

Oliver scored his first goal on an unassisted breakaway after a penalty kill, but Ligas netted back-to-back goals to cut the lead to 4-3 with 4:23 remaining.

Little more than a minute later, Armstrong responded the best way it knows how — with offense.

Oliver scored on a shot from the right boards to increase the lead to 5-3 with 3:19 left, and Miller added an empty-net goal to lock up the game and the No. 3 seed. Miller's empty-netter was his 43rd goal of the season, the highest total in the PIHL in any classification.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.