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Second Game of Friday's PIHL Outdoor Classic Doubleheader a Thrill Despite the Chill

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
It was bone-chilling cold on Friday, as temperatures dipped further into single digits as the night wore on.

But despite the frigid weather, North Allegheny and Seneca Valley put on an exciting display of fast-paced, back-and-forth hockey in the second contest of Friday’s PIHL Outdoor Charity Series doubleheader at North Park.

“It was absolutely freezing out there,” North Allegheny senior alternate captain Ryan Worsena said. “When you tried to breathe, your nostrils were frozen. It was literally like ice in your nose, and your lungs kind of filled up. But it was still awesome. It doesn’t matter how cold it was, everyone was still having a blast out there.”

Friday’s game, which benefitted the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association, had a playoff atmosphere as the two rivals battled to an intense 3-3 tie.

“I even told the kids before the game, this could be the way we remember our season,” Seneca Valley coach Dennis Kirstein said, whose team had a 2-9-0 record entering the game.

“This is our Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Everyone goes, ‘Oh, it’s only worth two points.’ No, actually to us, we really, really wanted it. It had more meaning. They pounded us last game, we had a great emotional game. And again, don’t forget it’s for a great charity in juvenile diabetes. It was awesome.”

Senior forward Chad Parise agreed, saying “North Allegheny is definitely one of our biggest rivals. To have this game out here against them, there’s a bigger appreciation to us because it was against our rivals and we got to show our fans that we can come out here and play hard against them.”

The Tigers, who improved to 11-3-2 with the tie, got on the board first with just 48 seconds remaining in the first off a goal from sophomore Charles Johnson. But the Raiders answered back with 12 seconds left to go in the first frame with a goal from sophomore Luke Reed.

The lead kept switching hands, as North Allegheny went up 2-1 in the second period, only to see Seneca Valley tie it up minutes later on a power play goal from senior Chad Parise.

The Tigers scored at the buzzer off a goal from junior forward Matthew Neurohr as the middle frame ended to regain a 3-2 lead, but senior forward Noah Wallace evened the score at 3-3 as the final frame wound down.

Junior Matthew Goda of North Allegheny and senior Michael Singel of Seneca Valley continued their outstanding play in the overtime period, as neither team could solve either netminder.

While this is the third Outdoor Charity Series North Allegheny has played in, Friday marked the first time Seneca Valley got a chance to participate in the event.

“It was amazing,” Reed said after the game. “I’m only a sophomore, so for my first year of high school hockey, being able to do this is just awesome. I couldn’t have thought of a better night to do this. Everyone was a little cold, but it was just great though.”

Parise called it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“We really appreciated being able to come out here and all the fans coming out here to support us,” he added. “It was just a great experience for all of us.”

Worsena said the thrill of playing outdoors still hasn’t worn off for him and his teammates.

“It’s an absolute blast every year to come out here,” he said. “You get so much more pumped up than you do for any other game. It’s so much fun, especially with everybody that comes out. So it’s really cool.”

He said the game had more hype this time around because of the Penguins hosting the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic here in Pittsburgh just months earlier.

“More people wanted to come out and watch the game and I think that pumped them up a little bit more,” Worsena said “But even us, it was awesome just to feel like you’re almost in the pros out there.”

And being able to give back to three different charities has been the icing on the cake for the North Allegheny senior.
“It really makes you feel good that you can come out here and people can enjoy it, and at the same time they’re helping a cause,” Worsena said. “So it’s really good for all that to happen at once.”
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