Gators continue to hold final playoff spot in Northeast Conference
The Gateway varsity ice hockey team continues to hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Northeast Conference, and the Gators have key games Thursday and Friday.
They play Greensburg-Salem (9-6, 18 points) Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at Kirk S. Nevin Arena in Greensburg and host Greensburg Central Catholic (3-12, six points) on Friday at 8:15 p.m. at Center Ice Arena in Delmont.
Gateway is 4-11 and tied for eighth with Keystone Oaks (4-12) and two points ahead of Central Catholic.
Keystone Oaks beat Connellsville, 6-0, on Monday, while Central Catholic fell to Altoona, 6-5.
Gateway already has split four points with the Eagles, while the Gators edged Central Catholic, 5-4, on Jan. 2.
“They are anxious and excited,” Gateway head coach Gene Perhac said.
“We have five games left, and we have a good chance to win three or four of them. We just need to come together a little bit more and help out our young goalies keep pucks out of our nets. That's been killing us the past couple of games.”
In last week's 10-3 loss at Altoona, Gateway fell behind 6-0 in the second period before getting on the board with back-to-back goals from Luke Fossati.
Vaso Obrknez added a goal for the Gators, but the Mountain Lions tallied 10 goals on 29 shots.
Gateway has surrendered 31 goals over its past three games in the losses to Altoona; Baldwin, 11-3; and Indiana, 10-2.
“The two games before Altoona, we came out like gangbusters,” Perhac said.
“We were a little flat early on against Altoona, but we picked it up. The last three games really didn't play out the way the score would indicate. We're not giving up a ton of shots defensively. Our back end has to improve.”
Friday's game with Central Catholic at Center Ice is senior night, and seniors Zach Dusch and Brendan Hamilton will be recognized on the ice in a ceremony about 15 minutes before the 8:15 p.m. starting time for the game.
PIHL All-Star Game
The PIHL Open Class All-Star Game is Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center, and Dusch will play on defense for the Northeast stars.
Perhac will be one of the three coaches for the Northeast against its Southeast counterparts.
“He's excited for the game, and I'm excited to see him down there,” Perhac said.
“It's a great showcase for the players' talents. There's not much strategy in these all-star games. The only bit of strategy probably is trying to keep two forwards from one team together or keeping two defensemen from one team together. Other than that, those guys know what to do, and we just let them go out and do it and have fun.”