Kittanning set for showdown on ice with Quaker Valley
An improving Kittanning hockey team's mettle will be put to the test when it hosts second-place Quaker Valley at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Belmont Ice Complex.
The Quakers boast a 9-1 record, with their only loss coming to first-place Mars in the second game of the season. They've scored an average of 7.4 goals per game while conceding 1.3.
Though they've managed to steamroll most opponents, they could be running into the Wildcats at the wrong time. Coming after a 6-3 victory over Freeport, Kittanning has won three of its past four contests.
Goaltender Cameron Langham started his first game of the season against the Yellowjackets and made 25 saves on 28 shots for the victory. Langham was suspended for the first eight games of the season because of the part he played in a fight with Hampton in Kittanning's 2011 Penguins Cup semifinal loss to Hampton.
Eli Johns, who started in goal during Langham's absence, also returned to his favored forward position against Freeport. He finished the game with one assist.
Senior forward Heinz Koster could be Kittanning's trump card against the Quakers. His 40 points in nine games are tied for the most outside of the Open Class.
Koster leads a Kittanning offense that has averaged 6.3 goals per game, the third-highest average in Class A.
The Wildcats may have little chance of catching Quaker Valley in the standings, but a strong performance could show that a full-strength Kittanning squad is a contender for the Penguins Cup.
Ford City wins tournament
For the second time in four years, Ford City emerged as the champion of the Brother James Memorial Tournament Varsity B Division in Cleveland after beating Culver Military Academy (Ind.), 5-3, in Sunday's final.
Forward Kevin Valasek sealed the victory for the Sabers, scoring on a penalty shot with 57 seconds remaining. Up to that point, Ford City had been nursing a one-goal lead and absorbing intense pressure.
Ford City's path to the final wasn't easy. In its first game against host Gilmour Academy, the Sabers nipped a 3-2 victory after scoring on a power play with 3 seconds remaining. Victories over Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) and Mentor (Ohio) sealed their place in the final.
Ford City last won the tournament three years ago.
The Sabers were the only PIHL team competing in the Varsity B division of the tournament. Pine Richland, North Allegheny and Bethel Park competed in the Varsity A division.
Trellis takes over
Fox Chapel's season has taken a turn for the better, and that's due in large part to the play of goaltender Scott Trellis.
When Trellis was handed his first start Dec. 5 the Foxes were anchored at the bottom of Class AAA with an 0-7 record. Since he took over in goal, the Foxes have gone 3-1 to improve their record to 3-8.
In four games, Trellis has posted a .918 save percentage and 3.25 goals against average while facing a hefty 40 shots per game.