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Plum takes JV hockey tournament title

Members of the Plum junior varsity ice hockey team celebrate with the championship trophy after defeating Mars, 3-1, in the title game of its postseason tournament March 24, 2014.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Last year, the Plum junior varsity ice hockey team made it to the finals of its postseason playoff tournament but was unable to overcome Erie Cathedral Prep in a 2-1 loss.

With unfinished business to tend to, the Mustangs again found themselves a win away from a JV postseason tournament title on March 24.

This time, they cashed in on their opportunity.

Plum defeated Mars, 3-1, to take home the title.

“It was a goal for them to get back to the championship game,” Plum JV head coach Justin Johovich said.

“They had some unfinished business.”

The Mustangs were one of five JV teams to take home postseason tournament championships, as they joined Seneca Valley, Hampton, Highlands and Penn-Trafford Green with first-place trophies.

Plum, which went 10-6-2 in the regular season — sixth place in Section 2 — went 3-0 in its JV tournament and outscored its opponents 14-6.

The Mustangs beat Peters Township, 5-2, in the quarterfinals and Chartiers Valley, 6-3, in the semifinals to punch their ticket to the championship game.

Mars went 10-3-5 in the regular season and scored 14 goals in its first two playoff games.�

Also in Plum's JV tournament were Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Norwin, Burrell and Butler.

Plum's victory over Mars came after the teams tied 2-2 during the regular season.

The Mustangs had to wait about one hour and 20 minutes for their title game to start because the games before theirs on the same ice were delayed because of time stopped for injuries or the games going into overtime.

“The kids were anxious to get going,” Johovich said.

“The boys did great. They were really dialed in.”

Nolan Puhala and Anthony Borriello each scored a power-play goal in the title game, while Dillon Joyce added one at even strength.

Goaltender Nathan Puhala stopped 30 of 31 Mars shots.

Ryan Loebig, who missed a large portion of the season with a broken collar bone, and Joyce both provided two assists, while Connor Cenci also had an assist.

“Ryan was still there for us while he was injured,” Johovich said. “He was like another coach on the bench.”

Johovich said he was impressed with his players' efforts despite being shorthanded in several games because of injury and players being called up to the varsity team.

“Some of the kids who aren't superstars on the stat sheet really contributed,” Johovich said.

“Our motto this season was, ‘Own It,' and they really gravitated to that accountability factor. They all clicked on and off the ice.”

Joyce led Plum in the three-game playoffs with 10 points (three goals, seven assists), while Borriello added five goals and four assists for nine points.

Loebig (five assists) and Nolan Puhala (two goals, three assists) each contributed five points.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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