|Members of the Color Guard hold the United States flag during the national anthem at North Park Ice Rink.
It was a winter wonderland at North Park Ice Rink Monday night as high school rivals Pine-Richland and North Allegheny faced off in the opening contest of the 3rd Annual PIHL Outdoor Charity Series.
The North Allegheny Tigers defeated the Pine Richland Rams, 5-4, in a fast-paced, energetic game full of back-and-forth goals.
All proceeds from the contest benefitted the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for breast cancer research.
Wayne Wagner, whose son Luke plays for Pine Richland, said that all of the players, regardless of the team, recognized the importance of playing on behalf of a charity.
“They’re all well aware of what the charity is for, and they’ve been talking about it at school and at lunch time and selling tickets at school,” he said. “Look at the people who are here already an hour before the game. It’s good for the kids to realize that they can do some good with their sport.”
“This is a tremendous display of support,” Dan Cole, whose son Danny plays for Pine-Richland, said. “That’s what brings the community together. When you have two big school districts right next to each other with the rink here that’s right in Allegheny County, I think the buzz is tremendous.”
With the sound of drums booming from the Pine-Richland drum line, friends and family members packed into the rink, many wearing their son’s hockey jerseys adorned with pink ribbons in support of breast cancer awareness.
“I think the boys’ excitement is off the charts,” Cole added. “It’s just buzzing here, it’s really buzzing. Our band is here, and once we get this place rocking, I think it’s going to be a fun night.”
|Pine-Richland and North Allegheny get set for a faceoff in the opening game of the PIHL Outdoor Charity Series. |
“It’s a big game,” agreed Susan Harper, whose son James plays for North Allegheny. “It’s a high school rivalry. They were really looking forward to it. I think there’s going to be a large student turnout.”
Prior to the opening draw, four breast cancer survivors from Pine-Richland and North Allegheny joined members of the Color Guard and both teams for the ceremonial puck drop.
Once that puck was dropped, the Tigers quickly tallied three goals against the Rams, including two from senior forward Andrew Siess.
Siess scored his first goal just minutes into the contest after sophomore defenseman Dalton Landman controlled the puck at center ice and passed to junior forward Ryan Worsena in the far corner. Worsena then sent the puck to Siess at the crease where he snapped it into the net.
Pine Richland answered those goals with two of their own off the sticks junior defenseman Ryan Hanahan and sophomore forward Nolan Trombetta later in the period to cut their deficit to 3-2 after the opening stanza.
The second period began with a flurry of both snowflakes and penalties. Pine-Richland’s Hanahan tied the score, 3-3, by scoring a quick power play goal from the slot.
But the Tigers once again regained the lead when senior forward Kevin Kelly fired a shot past the goaltender’s left pad on a breakaway at 9:24 of the middle frame.
Both teams battled hard in the third period as each hoped to secure victory in a close contest. Pine-Richland struck first as senior forward Sean Bogosta was able to score a power-play goal by slipping the puck into the net from right in the crease to once again draw the game even, 4-4.
With the game all square, North Allegheny junior forward Eric Barger tallied the game-winning goal after Kelly fired the puck off the backboards behind the Rams’ net, allowing it to slide in front of the crease where Barger stood waiting to fire it in.
North Allegheny was able to hold on down the stretch as Pine-Richland made a valiant effort to send the game into overtime, but when the final buzzer sounded, it was the Tigers who skated away with a 5-4 victory.
|Both teams strategize during a timeout in the final minute of a 5-4 victory for North Allegheny. |
North Allegheny head coach Jim Black, whose team improved to 4-7-3 with the victory, and moved within one point of Pine-Richland for a covet playoff berth, hopes his players realize the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation is even bigger than the two points they earned in the standings.
“Obviously the cause is very important for kids to understand,” he said.
The PIHL Outdoor Charity Series resumes at North Park on Friday, Jan. 29 as the Mars Planets and Quaker Valley Quakers will face off at 6:30 p.m. with proceeds again benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. At 8:30 p.m., the Shaler Area Titans and Central Catholic Vikings will drop the puck, and proceeds from the game will go to the PIHL Paul Sciullo Memorial Scholarship Fund.
On Friday, Feb. 5, at the South Park Ice Rink, the Outdoor Charity Series concludes 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 dropping the puck at 8:30 p.m. Proceeds from both matchups will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.