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3rd Annual PIHL Outdoor Charity Series Begins Monday as Pine-Richland Faces North Allegheny

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Outdoor hockey once again hits western Pennsylvania as the Third Annual PIHL Outdoor Charity Series begins on Monday night. This five-game series begins with a matchup between the Pine-Richland Rams and the North Allegheny Tigers at 7 p.m. at the North Park Ice Rink.

All five games are sponsored by the Centers for Rehab Services Physical Therapy, a partner of UMPC. Admission to the game is $5, and Monday’s proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Pine-Richland and North Allegheny also squared off in last season’s Outdoor Charity Series. They skated to a 3-3 tie at North Park, but both head coaches, Matthew Richert of Pine-Richland and Jim Back of North Allegheny, said the real winner that night, just like it will be on Monday, is Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

“The real winner of the game is going to be Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” Rickert said. “I would like to see us raise over $10,000. Last year we were close to that.”

“I think the main focus of these games should be the causes they are for. I think that is the No. 1 thing,” Black said.

Both coaches said there is plenty of excitement surrounding the game from the players and from the students at the respective schools, particularly with the growth in popularity of the NHL Winter Classic held every season on Jan. 1.

“The players are really, really excited,” Black said. “Everybody at the school is excited to come out and support us. Everybody is excited to have the chance to play outside again.”

“I think it is something that the boys really look forward to,” Rickert said. “This year they have a lot of people talking about it in school, asking when the game is. There has been more of a buzz for the game this year.”

Playing on the rink at North Park is different than skating on your average indoor rink.

First off, the actual dimensions of the rink are slightly larger than an Olympic-sized ice surface. Olympic rinks measure 200 feet by 100 feet, while North Park is 200 feet by a little more than 100 feet.

Second, the boards at North Park are made of actual wood and hold up a chain fence instead the glass one would find indoors.

Finally, especially following a rainy day on Sunday, the outdoor ice surface will play a lot harder with the added texture.

Luckily, both teams played in the game last year, in addition to holding practices there last week, so the adjustment process shouldn’t be too difficult.

This game takes on added importance because both teams are fighting for playoff positioning in the PIHL’s Southwest Division. Pine-Richland enters the contest in third place with a 5-7-2 record, while the Tigers are right behind them at 3-7-3 with one game in hand.

“It is a division game against a team we are fighting for the last playoff spot later in the season,” Black said. “We have to get on a roll and it has to start tomorrow night.”

While Pine-Richland’s Rickert talked about the importance of winning as well, he’s also focused on reaching that $10,000 goal he talked about earlier.

“Win or lose, I just want to have a lot of people out there and earn that money,” Rickert said.

On Fri., Jan. 29, the Outdoor Charity Series resumes at the North Park Ice Rink when the Mars Planets and Quaker Valley Quakers face off at 6:30 p.m. with proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. At 8:30 p.m., the Shaler Area Titans and Central Catholic Vikings will drop the puck with proceeds from that game going to the PIHL Paul Sciullo Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Outdoor Charity Series concludes on Fri., Feb. 5, at the South Park Ice Rink with the Montour Spartans and Thomas Jefferson Jaguars facing off at 6:30 p.m., and the Bethel Park Black Hawks and Canon McMillan Big Macs meeting at 8:30 p.m. Proceeds from both matchups will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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