PIHL championships set; two teams have opportunity to defend titles

Dan Scifo, who has been covering the PIHL playoffs down at the CONSOL Energy Center, is back with the recaps from yesterday’s action!

By Dan Scifo
From the Point Contributor

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League championship games are set. Defending Penguin Cup champions Mars and Canon-McMillan will have an opportunity to defend respective Class A and AAA championships, while a new champion will be crowned in Class AA.

The Penguin Cup championship games will take place Sunday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh following the afternoon tilt between the Penguins and Rangers. The Class A game is 5 p.m., Class AA 7 p.m., and Class AAA 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults.

No. 2 Canon-McMillan will meet No. 4 Upper St. Clair in Class AAA, while No. 1 Peters Township battles No. 2 Bishop Canevin in Class AA. No. 2 Mars faces No. 6 Hampton in the Class A final.

Class A
Mars 4, Westmont-Hilltop 1

Defending-champion Mars didn’t allow an early goal to get it down. Robert Sigurdsson scored twice, including the eventual game-winner on the power play early in the second as Mars tallied four unanswered goals to advance to the Class A Penguin Cup championship game.

The Planets, who were outshot for the first time all season, are looking for their third straight championship.

Goaltender Tyler Stepke shut down Westmont-Hilltop, making 34 saves to earn the victory.

Westmont-Hilltop’s Corey Schafer got the only puck past Stepke 3:24 into the game on the power play. Mars forward Nick Blaney, who assisted on the game-winner, tied it later in the first. Robert Foley also scored for Mars.

Class AA
Bishop Canevin 2, Greater Latrobe 1 (OT)

Freshman Randy Unger scored the game-winning goal with 34.3 seconds left in overtime as Bishop Canevin dethroned three-time defending PIHL Class AA Penguin Cup and state champion Greater Latrobe.

Bishop Canevin, a semifinalist the three previous seasons, could never break through to the finals, while Greater Latrobe – a perfect 7-0 at the now-vacant Civic Arena – looked to appear in the title game for the fourth straight year.

After a scoreless opening period, Matt Walsh got Bishop Canevin on the board at 8:55 of the second and Greater Latrobe’s Zack LaDuke tied it during a four-on-four later in the period.

LaDuke, who led Class AA with 36 goals and 66 points in the regular season, scored all five Greater Latrobe goals during the playoffs and was the remaining holdover from the Wildcats’ first state championship-winning team in 2008.

Bishop Canevin goaltender Zack Daley made 19 saves to earn the win.

Sophomore goaltender Shane Brudnok stopped 30 shots for the Wildcats, who were looking for their fourth straight Penguin Cup and state championship titles.

Class AAA
Canon-McMillan 5, Bethel Park 2

Brett Oldaker’s natural hat trick helped carry Canon-McMillan back to the PIHL Class AAA Penguin Cup championship game.

Oldaker staked Canon-McMillan to a 2-0 edge after a goal at 5:29 the first and his second a little more than a minute into the second period.

Bethel Park answered with Andrew Topeka’s short-handed goal, but Oldaker capped his hat trick, scoring the eventual game-winner late in the second.

Canon-McMillan goaltender Ryan Palonis earned the win, turning aside 28 of 30 shots, including a crucial 15 of 16 he saw during the second period.

Alex Baskakov gave Canon-McMillan a 4-1 lead, converting a 5-on-3 early in the third, while Bethel Park’s Zach Volzer cut the deficit in half, turning a two-man advantage of its own into a goal.

Bethel Park went on the power play two more times, but had nothing to show for it as Baskakov added an empty-netter for Canon-McMillan.

**In addition to his work here at FTP, Dan Scifo is the Assistant Sports Editor of the Latrobe Mirror…