Bishop Canevin was the team to finally dethrone three-time defending Penguins Cup champion Greater Latrobe when freshman Randy Unger scored with 34.3 seconds remaining in overtime in the Class AA semifinals to complete the dramatic win for the Crusaders.
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The field for the 2011 Penguins Cup Class A, AA and AAA championships is now set, with all three games taking place on Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center.
In the Class A final at 5 p.m., Mars Planets will face the Hampton Talbots after beating Westmont Hilltop 4-1 on Tuesday. At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Bishop Canevin will take on Peters Townshi, while Canon McMillan will face Upper St. Clair in the Class AAA final at 9 p.m. on Sunday after a tense 5-2 victory over Bethel Park on Tuesday. Click here for the Class A recap.
Click here for the Class AA recap.
Click here for the Class AAA recap.Class A: Mars 4, Westmont Hilltop 1
Mars, the defending Class A champions, recovered after going behind early on to record a 4-1 victory over a spirited Westmont side.
The Planets set up a return to Class A Penguins Cup final at CONSOL Energy Center on Sunday against the Hampton Talbots, who upset No. 1 seed Kittanning on Monday in the semifinals.
Mars head coach Steve Meyers knows exactly what to expect from Hampton on Sunday.
“We’ve played Hampton before. They are a defensive team, similar to Westmont,” Meyers said. “We know what to expect from them. They play a similar style to Westmont. We have got to do better on Sunday.”
Westmont came out hard and did not waste any time in establishing momentum.
It took just 3:24 for Westmont’s Corey Schafer to give his team a 1-0 lead on the power play when he rifled a shot into the top of the net after receiving a pass from Noah McQuillan.
The goal was Schafer’s third of the 2011 Penguins Cup. The forward finished the regular season as Class A’s leading scorer with 32 goals and 59 points in just 16 contests.
Schafer nearly got his second goal of the game soon after, but Mars goaltender Tyler Stepke somehow stopped the puck from trickling over the line as he laid prone on the ice.
That shifted the momentum Mars’ way, as Nick Blaney hammered home a shot soon after on a feed from Joseph Bender.
Althought Blaney was ecstatic to score a goal on such a big stage, he felt that more importantly, his team’s defensive play helped to spur them onto victory.
“Our defense was awesome. When (Westmont) started to trap us they read the play beautifully,” Blaney said. “(The defense) truly created outlets for us to go down and score.”
The game was back-and-forth at the start of the second period, as both sides had a number of chances before Westmont’s Evan Good was whistled for interference.
The penalty helped the momentum swing back in the favor of Mars as Robert Siggurdson rocketed a slap shot from the blue line into the net through traffic to give Mars their first lead of the game with 11:30 left in the second period.
The Planets only lost one game in the regular season, and they began to show that mettle as the second period wound down, as Robert Foley found himself with a clear run to the net and sent the puck past Westmont goalie Adam Ayre to make it 3-1 to Mars.
The game continued to be an open encounter, with Westmont continuing to be dangerous through the stellar play of Schafer. Mars goaltender Tyler Stepke was kept busy all evening as Westmont could not find a way to beat home again.
Then with 2:46 left in the second period, Mars forward Robert Sigurdsson got his second goal of the game. Sigurdsson somehow squeezed the puck between Ayre and the post to make it 4-1 Mars.
Despite being outshot after two periods, Mars’ four unanswered goals in the second swung the game their favor.
Stepke put in a superb display, finishing with 34 saves. He is looking forward to the final on Sunday, where Mars hopes to earn their third-consecutive Class A title.
“Our defense did a good job keeping them on the outside and gave us a real good chance to win the game,” he said.Class AA: Bishop Canevin 2, Greater Latrobe 1 OT
Freshman Randy Unger emerged as the hero with 34.3 seconds left in overtime to dethrone three-time defending champion Greater Latrobe and send Bishop Canevin into the Class AA Penguins Cup final,
Unger pounced on a shot from teammate Matt Walsh that had been deflected up into the air to send their large student section wild at CONSOL Energy Center.
“I am so happy,” Unger said. “Everything we have been working for all year comes down to this next game. Latrobe has been winning everything the last few years. I think it’s time for us to win now.”
Both schools had high-scoring centers on display in Greater Latrobe’s Zack LaDuke and Bishop Canevin’s Matthew Walsh. LaDuke led all of Class AA in points with Walsh close behind in the third spot, and both came up big on Tuesday as they each scored their team’s opening goals.
In an evenly matched first period, it was Bishop Canevin who pressed more for the first goal. Walsh proved to be a thorn in the side of Greater Latrobe’s defense as he weaved around two players before forcing Greater Latrobe goalie Shane Brudnok in net to make a smart glove save, but the first period ended 0-0.
The shot count read 9-2 in Bishop Canevin’s favor at the end of a one sided first period. Latrobe had their goaltender Brudnok to thank for keeping them in the game as they looked to step up their offensive game in the second period.
They did just that at the start of the second as Latrobe caused problems for Crusaders goalie Zackery Daley. Latrobe forward Patrick Large followed up a shot which Daley palmed away but Large the post with a wrist shot to almost give Latrobe the lead against the run of play.
However just as Latrobe were beginning to generate genuine scoring opportunities the Crusaders scored through leading scorer Matt Walsh. Randy Unger centered the puck for Walsh to direct a shot past the Latrobe goaltender and give Bishop Canevin the goal they deserved for their dominant display.
Walsh accumulated 52 points during the regular season, scoring 23 goals along the way. The goal was his fourth of the 2011 Penguins Cup following his hat trick in the quarterfinals, and Walsh was pleased to get to the finals after years of trying to make it.
“We have been losing this semifinal game year after year,” Walsh said. “ We have been waiting for this one more than ever tonight.”
Walsh also had great things to say about the hero Unger.
“He is a great player,” Walsh said. “He is going to do it again for years to come. He is just getting used to it now.”
A penalty was then called on each team as Randy Unger and Chris Johnson were both sent to the box for two minutes.
This proved a route back into the game for Latrobe as they tied the game in dramatic fashion 13:29 into the second period. LaDuke deked around Daley in the Crusaders goal before tucking it home.
LaDuke was tied for the scoring lead during the regular season with 63 points and led Class AA with 34 goals.
Bishop Canevin head coach Kevin Zielmanski was worried that LaDuke would take over the game, but he was pleased to see his team overcome the threat and take the victory.
“Having him (LaDuke) off, you know he can’t score from there,” said Zielmanski. “We will definitely take that. He is obviously their most important player and he has been for many years.”
The second period finished 1-1 with the game balanced on pins and needles. In the third period Greater Latrobe took the upper hand as they had several chances to take the lead.
Both teams pushed for a winning goal to advance against Peters Township in Sunday’s final but the match went into overtime.
Each team had a few great chances, as Walsh hit a wrist shot just wide of Brudnok’s post with 7:02 remaining and Frank Vance went on a breakaway after he skillfully played the puck between a Greater Latrobe defenseman’s legs.
But Brudnok once again kept his team in the game as he stopped Vance in his tracks to keep the score at 1-1.
Shortly after, Unger netted the game winner to take Bishop Canevin to the final.Class AAA: Canon McMillan 5, Bethel Park 2
Canon McMillan captain Brett Oldaker led by example, smashing home a hat trick to send his team past Bethel Park in a 5-2 victory and setting a date with Upper St. Clair in the Class AAA Penguins Cup final Sunday at 9 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center.
Oldaker was delighted to score a hat trick but also praised the effort of his teammates.
“It was unbelievable,” Oldaker said. “This is definitely something special coming back for my senior year and I can’t do it without my team.”
The victory was made even better as Canon McMillan had lost to Bethel Park twice already this season in close contests.
Oldaker – Canon McMillan’s leading goal scorer – gave his team an early lead as he weaved around a Bethel Park defenseman, who caught an edge at a pivotal moment.
Oldaker slammed home the puck past Black Hawks goaltender Dillon Ondrako to send the biggest crowd of the night into raptures 5:29 into the first period.
The Big Macs continued to pile on the pressure as Bethel Park struggled to cope with their fast-flowing offensive style.
Oldaker scored his second goal of the game 1:17 into the second period as he rifled a wrist shot top shelf after a superb pass from Anthony Tonkovich.
With just 3:19 gone in the second period, Bethel Park clawed their way back into the game as they scored a shorthanded goal with Canon McMillan’s Michael Seifert in to the box. A shot from Zachary Volzer was saved by Big Macs goalie Ryan Palonis, but Andrew Topka was on hand to poke home the rebound to cut Canon McMillan’s lead to 2-1.
With just 1:56 remaining in the second, the Big Macs gave themselves some breathing room when Oldaker completed his hat trick on a power-play goal. Jordan Valentine rifled a long-range blast which Oldaker re-directed into the net.
Oldaker’s coach Yuri Krivokhija was pleased with his captain’s inspiring performance.
“He played a great game,” said Krivokhija. “He showed the young kids especially that he is the leader of this team.”
The start of the third period started with a five-on-three power play opportunity for Canon McMillan after Sam Prichard was sent to the box for the Black Hawks. The Big Macs capitalized when Alex Baskakov blasted home a shot after a superb cross-ice pass from Anthony Tonkovich for his second assist of the game.
Bethel Park got on the board in the later stages of the third period as Jacob Brown scored to make the score 4-2 1:17 into the final frame.
Several penalties were exchanged late on as both teams fought hard for a place against Upper St. Clair in the final. Dylan Jones rattled the post for Bethel Park as they desperately searched for a way back into the contest.
But with 18 seconds left, Baskakov scored an empty netter to make the final score 5-2.
Cannon McMillan held on to book their place in the final and are already preparing for the challenge of facing Upper St. Clair.
“It is going to be a dangerous game,” said Coach Krivokhija. “They have a really good defensive line. We have to stop these guys and we will have to have a different game plan for sure.”