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Open Class hockey roundup: Baldwin, Harbor Creek advance to championship

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By Joe Sager
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 9:24 p.m.

Harbor Creek finally broke through Thursday night.

The Huskies scored early and held on to post a 5-1 win over Morgantown in the PIHL Open Classification Southwest Conference championship at RMU Island Sports Center.

Harbor Creek (21-1-0) advances to its first PIHL Open Cup championship game Sunday at 8:20 p.m. to face Baldwin at the same rink.

“It's a big win,” Harbor Creek coach Paul Markiewicz said. “This team has been here before, but it's the first time that we've gotten to the PIHL championship game.”

The win avenged a 4-1 setback to the Mohawks in last year's Southwest semifinals.

“It didn't feel real good last year, so I told the boys let's change it this year,” Markiewicz said. “I thought the boys came out with great intensity and a lot of focus. ... They were hungry: They were very hungry, and they worked hard.”

The Huskies took control early on Nick Rocco's goal 1:22 into the game.

“We wanted to set the tone early,” Rocco said. “Coach kept telling us to make the first hit, first goal, first everything. We knew what we needed to do.”

Harbor Creek kept up the pressure and pushed its advantage to 3-0 on goals by Zack Morris and Nick Manna.

Justin DeDionisio made it a 4-0 game late in the second. The Mohawks (19-4-3) broke the shutout bid 5:10 into the third period on Zac Lewis' goal to trim the deficit to 4-1.

Tyler Manna recorded 17 saves to earn the win in goal.

“We always play aggressive,” Manna said. “The whole year, I've never seen our team let down. We might go down a goal or something, but we always come back.”

Baldwin 3, Hempfield 1 — Anthony Alaimo scored twice to help lead Baldwin to a win over Hempfield for the Northeast Conference championship game, also at RMU Island Sports Center.

Alaimo tallied twice in the first period for the Highlanders (21-1-1).

Dakota Becker's goal made it 3-0 early in the second before the Spartans' Avery Lavella scored to trim the team's deficit to 3-1.

Baldwin's Brian Dee blasted a slapper for a power-play goal early in the third to push the advantage to 4-1.

Max Milan added a late goal for the Highlanders.

“We played real good hockey for about a period and a half and then we fell asleep for a bit. We played adequate hockey to get through it,” Baldwin coach Jim Brown said. “Hempfield has a heck of a goaltender. Maybe we were looking too far ahead. A win is a win. I am proud of my kids. We have one more to get to the top of the mountain, and we will get to the top of the mountain.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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