Late goals lift Ligonier Valley past Kiski Area
Ordinarily in this region, high school football or basketball takes center stage on a Friday night.
But last night, it was hockey taking center stage at the Center Ice Arena in Delmont, where Kiski Area and Ligonier Valley met to break a first place tie in Section 4 of the PIHL's Open Division.
Two third-period goals by the Mounties broke a scoreless tie, and the Ligonier defense took over from there to post a 2-1 victory. The Mounties are now in first place with a 6-3 mark for 12 points, while the Cavaliers slipped to 5-5 (10 points).
Kiski Area's goal came with six seconds left in the game, though the Cavaliers outshot Ligonier, 28-22.
Outstanding play by both defenses and goaltenders Ben Crawford of Kiski Area and Ligonier's Matthew Erlichman kept the contest scoreless over two periods. Kiski Area killed off four Ligonier power plays over the first two periods.
The Cavaliers rarely got a rebound and had problems sustaining offensive pressure.
"We're shooting at the wrong times and the wrong places," Cavaliers coach Dave Warren said. "We tell them to make sure they get someone around the net."
Senior defenseman Alexander Knupp fired a shot past Crawford just 19 seconds into the third period to put the Mounties in the lead with a short-handed goal.
"I said it's hard to stop what you can't see," Ligonier coach Tim Cairns said. "They had some fresh ice to start the period."
Taylor Grimm then scored on a rebound with 9:58 to go off assists from Dace Ludwig and Knupp.
Kiski Area desperately tried to get back into the game but were continually thwarted by the Ligonier defense.
"After we scored a couple of goals, we started playing defense and tried getting it deep into our zone," Cairns said.
Kiski Area finallty broke through when Brandon Donnelly batted in a shot that came off the chest of Erlichman with six seconds to go. It was Donnelly's fifth goal of the season.
Colin Maloney and Tony Williams, Kiski Area's leading scorer, were credited with assists.
But on the subsequent faceoff, Knupp slammed the puck off the boards at center ice and time expired.
"It was pretty much a lack of execution for us," Warren said. "You have to play from start to finish."
Crawford stopped two excellent scoring opportunities by Knupp early in the game and stopped a shot by Grimm while on his back late in the second period to keep the game scoreless.
Erlichman made a stick save of a solid shot by Pete Schultz in the second period to keep the Cavaliers scoreless.
Both teams will meet again at 8:30 Monday night at Center Ice Arena.