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Mars Successfully Defends Penguins Cup Title

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins
For the second consecutive year, the Mars Planets won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Class A Penguins Cup Finals after defeating the third-seeded Serra Catholic Eagles, 4-1, Saturday night at Mellon Arena.

Led by one goal and two assists from both senior Mike Mazzotta and sophomore Elliot Tisdale, the Planets advanced to the Pennsylvania High School Hockey Championship to face off against Flyers Cup champion Bayard Rustin at Mellon Arena on April 1 at 11 a.m.

Throughout the playoffs, Mazzotta said that the team was mainly focused on getting the chance to compete in the state championships once again and avenge last season’s loss to Bayard Rustin, 5-0.

“We kind of have a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth after last year,” he said. “We get to play the same team that we did last year, so it’s always exciting.”

After a scoreless first period, Tisdale notched the first goal of the night in the opening minutes of the second period. Mars junior Robbie Sigurdsson followed suit at 3:15 into the period after picking up a power-play goal with help from Mazzotta and Tisdale at the right side of the crease.

Just 2:05 minutes later, Mazzotta and Tisdale sent the puck to Mars freshman Austin Heakins next, allowing him to score yet another marker at the right side of the crease to give the Planets a three-goal lead.

But Serra Catholic battled back at 6:22 into the period after junior Jarrett Ruchka picked up the puck from senior Erik Manetta. He then skated across the blue line and sent a wrist shot past Mars junior goaltender Tyler Stepke and into the upper right shelf.

The goal was still not enough to stop Mars from continuing on their scoring mission in the third period, though. At 11:49 into the final period, Mazzotta picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated across the blue line, battled through traffic in front of the net and scored an unassisted goal from the slot.

“I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. I was just trying to get pucks to the net, and they went in.”

The final buzzer sounded, and Mars came out victorious against Serra Catholic, 4-1, with 27 total shots on goal, compared to Mars’ 21. Stepke said that he had a feeling that his team would win the contest after Mazzotta scored the last goal of the game.

“I knew that we had it,” Stepke said. “After the fourth goal, I knew that it was over. Everyone’s pumped, but we know that we have one more game to play, and that’s what we really want to get. We feel confident right now, but we know that we’re playing the same team that we played last year, so it will be a little rivalry.”

Mazzotta agreed that while the team is undoubtedly excited to win the championship, the players still have their eyes on next week’s state championship rematch.

“Everyone’s happy to go and celebrate,” Mazzotta said. “We’re just going to cherish it for a little bit until Thursday comes around.”

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