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All Three Penguins Cup Champions Win State Titles

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
The three Penguins Cup champions – Mars (Class A), Bishop Canevin (Class AA) and Upper St. Clair (Class AAA) – all defeated the Flyers Cup champions to win Pennsylvania high school hockey state titles on Saturday at Ice Line Arena in West Chester. Congratulations to all three state champions!

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Nick Blaney scored a hat trick and Elliot Tisdale tallied twice to lift the Mars Planets to their second-straight Pennsylvania high school hockey state title with a resounding 5-2 victory over the Springfield Cougars.

The game was tight through the first period-and-a-half of play, as the teams were tied 1-1 with just over five minutes remaining in the second. Blaney scored the first period’s only tally to give the Planets a 1-0 lead entering the first intermission before Springfield’s Dave Allen capitalized just over five minutes into the middle frame to even the score.

But Mars’ Elliot Tisdale notched the first of what would be four unanswered goals by the Planets with just over five minutes remaining in the second period on a power play. Blaney then struck for his second goal of the night (unassisted, nonetheless) – which would prove to be the game winner – with just under three minutes left in the second to round out the second period scoring and give the Planets a 3-1 lead.

Blaney opened the third-period scoring when he completed his hat trick just over four minutes into the period. Tisdale then netted his second of the night just over four minutes into the third period, again on the power play, just three minutes later.

Connor Phillips scored for Springfield with just 35 seconds remaining in the game to make the final score 5-2 in favor of Mars.

Senior goaltender Tyler Stepke, who made 35 of 36 saves in last season’s state championship game, made 28 saves in the victory. This was Stepke’s third-straight trip to the state finals.

Austin Heakins and Joseph Bender each added two assists for the Planets.


After eight straight eliminations in the semifinals, the Bishop Canevin Crusaders built on their Class AA Penguins Cup championship title by capturing the Pennsylvania high school hockey state title with a 4-1 win over Council Rock South.

Matthew Walsh scored twice and Zackary Daley made 27 of 28 saves for the Crusaders.

A mere three penalties were called in the game, with the Golden Hawks getting a pair and Bishop Canevin getting whistled for just one.

But after Zack Goodman scored with 54 seconds remaining in the first period to put Council Rock South up 1-0, Nicholas Hart would make the Golden Hawks pay for their first penalty of the game when he netted a power-play score just over four minutes into the second.

Walsh struck with just four seconds remaining in the middle frame, beating Golden Hawks goalie Steve Jastrow to put the Crusaders up 2-1.

After a third-period battle that saw neither team capitalize, the Golden Hawks pulled Jastrow with just over a minute remaining in regulation for the extra attacker. However, Bishop Canevin struck twice in the final minute – both unassisted empty-net goals – to come out with a 4-1 win.

Peter Karney got the Crusaders’ final goal. Frank Vance earned two helpers on the night.


C.J. Murray capped off his pair of power-play goals in regulation by scoring the game-winning goal at the 5:29 mark of overtime to lift the Upper St. Clair Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the LaSalle Explorers in the Class AAA Pennsylvania high school hockey state title.

The Panthers also required overtime to capture the Class AAA Penguins Cup title on March 20 at CONSOL Energy Center.

It was an exciting back-and-forth affair between the two squads, as the Explorers tallied early in the first when Nick Popoff opened the scoring just over four minutes into the period. But the Panthers answered back with 39 seconds remaining in the opening frame when Murray found the back of the net on a power play.

Murray struck again on the man-advantage for the second period’s only goal to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead entering the final frame.

But LaSalle’s Sean Orlando answered back at the 8:50 mark to even the score at 2-2. While the Panthers responded quickly, beating Explorers goalie Nick Desimone just 28 seconds later to regain the lead, LaSalle’s Ron Greco scored on the power play to tie the game 3-3 and force overtime.

That’s when Murray struck for his second goal of the evening to lift the Panthers to victory.

Michael Ambrose made 29 saves for the Panthers. Desimone made 35 stops on the night for the Explorers.
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