Quaker Valley, Bishop Canevin, Peters Twp. to play for state hockey titles
Now that the West has been won, three PIHL teams must turn their attention to the East.
The three Penguins Cup champions are set to battle the Flyers Cup winners for the Pennsylvania Cup title Saturday at Penn State University's Pegula Ice Arena. Quaker Valley meets Bayard Rustin at noon in Class A, while Bishop Canevin takes on Central Bucks South at 2:30 p.m. in Class AA and Peters Township faces La Salle at 5 p.m. in Class AAA.
The Quakers (24-1-0) joined an elite group this year with their third straight Penguins Cup championship. Bishop McCort (1994-97), Serra Catholic (2000-02) and Mars (2009-11) are the other Class A teams with three straight titles.
While those accomplishments are nice, Quaker Valley, which is 70-2-1 in its last 73 games, wants more. The Golden Knights (19-3-2) stand in the way.
“It's awesome to win, especially to win three in a row like that. Not too many teams get to do that,” Quakers senior Jimmy Perkins said. “This senior class, our goal at the beginning of the year was to win a state championship. Our eyes are still locked on that.”
The Quakers claimed the 2012 title with a 4-1 win over Rustin. Quaker Valley hoped to defend its state crown last year, but fell to West Chester East, 6-5. That setback snapped the Quakers' 46-game unbeaten streak and denied their chance for a perfect season. The players refocused for another title shot this year.
“After going undefeated last year and losing at states in such a close game, there's nothing I want more than to win that game this year,” Connor Quinn said.
Quinn scored five goals and assisted on another in Quaker Valley's 8-2 Penguins Cup victory over Thomas Jefferson. Perkins added a goal and four helpers.
J.R. Barone and defenseman Michael Grande led the Golden Knights in the Flyers Cup playoffs. In four games, Barone had three goals and nine assists, while Grande had five goals and four assists. Both were on the Rustin squad that fell to the Quakers in 2012.
Bishop Canevin (23-2-0) is playing for its first state title since 2011 when it beat Council Rock South, 4-1. The Crusaders were PIHL Class AA's top offensive team in the regular season (145 goals in 20 games). They scored 14 in their first two playoff games, but showed a different side in a 1-0 shutout of Erie Cathedral Prep for the Penguins Cup.
“I am focused on us having a better game because I did not think we played like we typically do against Cathedral Prep,” Canevin coach Kevin Zielmanski said. “We went from an offensive force to a defensive juggernaut right before my eyes. I am hoping to marry those two styles Saturday. We want to try to regain our offense a bit, but we don't want to forget what we did in that last game. I hope that's good enough to achieve our goals on Saturday.”
Goaltender Nikita Meskin recorded the shutout against Cathedral Prep. He was the backup during the Crusaders' 2011 state title season. Senior forward Randy Unger was held scoreless against the Ramblers, but led the PIHL in scoring with 75 points. He added nine more in the team's first two playoff games.
Central Bucks South (18-3-1) outscored its four Flyers Cup opponents 23-9. Leo Flick led the Titans with three goals and eight postseason points. Dom Bova had three goals and four assists, while Mike Pilla had two goals and five helpers.
Indians break through
Peters Township (19-4-0) made its fourth straight Penguins Cup championship appearance and came through with its first Class AAA title with a 4-2 win over Bethel Park. The Indians own four straight Class AA crowns (2002-05).
Coach Rick Tingle's squad features a balanced attack: 11 different players have a postseason point. However, Jonathan Dagnal has the hot hand. The senior is coming off back-to-back hat tricks. Adam Alavi, a junior, has three goals and three assists in the postseason. Senior goaltender Brian Baker has been a fixture between the pipes throughout his Indians career.
“Dags and Adam have been at the forefront during playoffs. But, during the course of the regular season, different guys chipped in, and I am sure other guys will chip in during our next game,” Tingle said. “We're looking forward to this challenge. We're proud to be representing Western Pa. and our community. The boys are excited about doing that.”
La Salle (18-9-2) won its fourth straight Flyers Cup in dramatic fashion. The Explorers rallied from a 4-1 deficit to post a 5-4 overtime win against St. Joseph's Prep. North Allegheny beat La Salle, 6-2, in last year's title tilt, while the Explorers beat Bethel Park by the same score for the 2012 championship.
The Explorers are balanced, too, as 17 different players have a postseason point. Andre Romano leads team with eight assists and 11 points. Kevin Charyszyn is next with three goals and six points.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.