It was a tight race down the stretch in Class A this season, as eight of the 10 teams that qualified for the postseason tied for seeding and had to be decided by head-to-head tiebreakers.
So although Kittanning and Mars have identical impressive 20-1 records, the Wildcats have earned the top spot because they topped the Planets 8-5 on Feb. 3. Kittanning and Mars received byes into the quarterfinals.
The perennial powerhouse Planets, who not only possess the most lethal scoring attack with their 185-goal output, but also boasted the stingiest defense with just 23 goals allowed, are looking to wrap up their third-consecutive title. Kittanning, meanwhile, is looking to build off last season’s finish that saw them fall in the semifinals to Serra Catholic after finishing the regular season 22-3.
The Class A first-round action gets underway on Monday, March 7, when Westmont Hilltop and Quaker Valley drop the puck at 7 p.m. at Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Central Valley and Freeport will face off at 7 p.m. at Beaver County Ice Arena.
The first-round action will continue with South Fayette and Sewickly Academy facing off at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8 at the Iceoplex at Southpointe. Serra Catholic, who advanced to the finals last season as the No. 4 seed, will take on Hampton at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9 at the Ice Garden at Rostraver Ice Arena.
The winners from those four opening-round matchups will then advance to the quarterfinals.
All first- and second-round games will be played at the higher seed’s home rink.
Once the Penguins Cup reaches the semifinals, the action will head to CONSOL Energy Center. Those games are scheduled for March 14 and 15, with the A game slotted for 5 p.m. on both days.
The 2011 Class A Penguins Cup championship will be determined following the Penguins-Rangers 12:30 p.m. matinee on March 20. The puck will drop for that contest at 5 p.m. Make sure to check www.PittsburghPenguins.com daily for scores, brackets and standings as we track all of the action. Also, starting this year, the PIHL has paired with Pointstreak, an online real-time stats program, to bring fans live scoring on each playoff game. The Penguins purchased the program for the PIHL. There is a link to Pointstreak at www.pihlweb.com.