PIHL Class A semifinals roundup: Special teams lead South Fayette past West Allegheny
Special teams were exceptional for South Fayette in Tuesday's PIHL Penguins Cup Class A semifinals.
The Lions converted two short-handed goals and added two power-play tallies to upset top-seeded West Allegheny, 6-2, at RMU Island Sports Center. The Lions meet Franklin Regional, a 5-3 winner over Bishop McCort, for the title next Tuesday night at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
“Special teams is huge in any game. When you score on those it gives everyone confidence,” said South Fayette's Jordan Timmons, who had two goals and two assists. “It's fantastic. It's great having a competitive hockey team. We never really have in the past. Our first playoff win in school history was against Freeport in the first round. So, to be able to make it to the championship game is fantastic.”
Timmons set up the team's first goal when he skated hard into the near corner and whipped a pass to Spencer Barber at the front of the net. Barber directed the puck to the right and into the net.
West Allegheny (21-3-0) struck back 24 seconds later when Ryan Rohm connected from the slot. Jess Ligas gave the Indians a 2-1 advantage with two minutes to go.
However, the Lions (17-5-2) knotted the game at 2-2 when Alex Orlandini converted on the power play with 1.8 seconds remaining.
“Anytime you can put one in in the first minute or last minute, it's huge,” South Fayette coach Frank Certo said. “Our power play can be pretty awesome because we have some high-end talent there.”
Timmons put South Fayette ahead 3-2 with a shorthanded goal 6:15 into the second. He stripped the puck off a West Allegheny player along the near boards inside the Indians' blue line, looped in on goal and slid the puck into the net.
Special teams were huge again for the Lions when Timmons cashed in for a power-play goal 1:56 later. Jack Lipovich boosted South Fayette's lead to 5-2 when he fired a shot from just inside the blue line that sailed through traffic and into the goal with 3:54 left.
The Lions collected another short-handed goal with 1:13 to go when Barber chipped in a puck on an aggressive forecheck for a 6-2 lead.
“Generally speaking, we're a grinding team,” Certo said. “That's what worked for us tonight.”
Franklin Regional 5, Bishop McCort 3 — Jamie Mauro's hat trick fueled the Panthers as they edged the Crimson Crushers at RMU Island Sports Center.
Franklin Regional (18-6-0) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first 6:11 on Mauro and Nicholas Carretta goals, but Bishop McCort (18-5-1) rallied for a pair of its own.
Anthony Formica got the Crimson Crushers on the scoreboard and Tristan Mock followed with a power-play goal late in the period.
Ethan Bennett slipped through the Bishop McCort defense to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead 6:26 into the second. The Crimson Crushers drew even again on Brett Seitz's power-play goal with 4:11 remaining.
Mauro put the Panthers ahead 4-3 just 1:45 into the third. He added an empty-netter to seal the win.
The Class AAA semifinals will be Wednesday at RMU Island Sports Center. North Allegheny (14-5-2) takes on Peters Township (11-5-5) at 6:45 p.m., followed by Central Catholic (13-5-3) against Cathedral Prep (13-5-3) at 9 p.m.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.