PT prepared for Penguins Cup final; take on NA in final
For the third time in three years, Peters Township (19-4) will compete for the Penguins Cup when the Indians face off against North Allegheny (17-4-2) at 9 p.m. tonight (March 20) at the Consol Energy Center.
“It’s a great atmosphere playing down there,” said Trevor Recktenwald, who leads the Indians in scoring. “It would be great to get a win.”
A 3-0 win over State College in the PIHL semifinals primed Peters for this moment. After receiving a bye in the first round of the tournament, the Indians whipped Central Catholic, 7-3. Hence, a tighter Final Four prepared the Indians for their battle with the Tigers, who defeated Bethel Park, 4-2, in their semifinal showdown.
“In the quarterfinals, we didn’t have one of those gut-wrenching games that you want in a playoff,” explained PT coach Rick Tingle. “This was the perfect kind of game to go into Consol, knowing that you can be in a game 1-0 with five minutes to go and still have the fortitude to pull it out.”
Throughout the 2012-13 campaign the Indians have pulled out many a game because of strong goalkeeping, and Brian Baker provided that against the Little Lions. The junior stopped all 15 shots he faced. Plus, he held Stefan Horgas scoreless. While Horgas came into the contest as the league’s top scorer along with Recktenwald, State College had not been shutout in 40 games.
“We kept the shots outside, and, if we keep the shots outside, no one is going to score on Bakes,” Tingle said.
“Brian had the kind of game he needed to have at this time,” Tingle continued. “But, we haven’t seen his best yet.”
Against the Tigers, PT will need Baker’s best, which happens to be a .918 save percentage and a 2.15 goals-against average. That is because NA allowed only 37 goals during the regular season before allowing four in the playoffs.
Of the Tigers, Tingle commented that they are a “well-coached team that is a defensive juggernaut” that will be tough to play. NA breezed to the Section 2 title before edging Canon-McMillan, 2-1, in the first round of the playoffs and knocking off BP at the RMU Island Sports Center.
Joseph Griffin leads the Tigers in scoring with 21 goals, two of which came against the Hawks in the semifinals. Connor Cash is the playmaker, racking up 27 assists, including four in the playoffs, while Cody Black is the leader in points.
Meanwhile, Recktenwald leads PT in every scorwing capacity. The senior forward has 73 points. He has 31 goals and 42 assists, including three each in the playoffs.
Recktenwald, off an assist from Adam Alavi, scored an empty-net goal in the win over State College. He combined with Alavi for an assist on Alexander Debolt’s tally early in the third period.
As PT discovered in the semifinals, game-winning, playoff goals can come from anybody. After a scoreless first period, the Indians registered the only goal they needed when Keenan Witmer, unassisted, scored at 2:35 of the second stanza.
“We wouldn’t have planned on it,” said Tingle of getting the game-winning goal from the junior forward. Tingle noted, however, it was a pleasant “surprise.”
Similar surprises would result in PT’s cherished cup not to mention a 16th straight victory and a berth in the state championship contest set for Saturday, March 23 in Philadelphia.