Dylan Trombetta respects his elders.
That’s why he took off his hat for the Pine-Richland seniors.
The freshman forward recorded a hat-trick Saturday to lead the Rams past Kittanning, 8-3, to claim the PIHL 84 Lumber Penguins Cup Class AA championship at Mellon Arena.
“I have never scored a hat-trick like this in this big of a game,” Trombetta said. “It was great.”
Classmate George Saad also played a big role for Pine-Richland. He had two goals and assisted on two of Trombetta’s tallies.
“The connection between us was pretty good,” Saad said. “The freshmen came out and we knew what we had to do to win. We knew what we had to do for the seniors, since they were here last year also and it just didn’t go their way. So, we just wanted to play for them and ourselves. We knew we were the best team coming into this game and we just had to give it our all to win.”
The Rams (21-1-2) advance to the state championship against Flyers Cup champ Haverford on April 8 at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.
“It’s a great feeling, especially being down here last year and coming up short. It’s a fantastic feeling. I am so happy for the boys – this is what it’s all about,” Pine-Richland coach Jim Black said. “We only have one more to go now.”
Pine-Richland’s seniors made an impact, too. Jordan Yoklic scored two goals and Josh Fodor, who led all Class AA skaters in scoring, had a goal and two assists for the Rams.
“It feels great,” Fodor said. “We’ve been working for this all year.”
It took Yoklic 39 seconds to light the lamp as he tallied a goal off a Fodor assist.
Saad gave Pine-Richland a 2-0 lead with 5:46 left in the first period on a power-play goal. Fodor and Steve Adams assisted.
Yoklic’s second goal 1:04 into the second period pushed the Rams’ advantage to 3-0. Adams and Phil Trombetta assisted on the play.
Dylan Trombetta gave Pine-Richland a 4-0 advantage with 5:54 remaining when he tallied a power-play goal. Phil DiDonato and Joe Christman assisted.
Justin Kovatch got Kittanning (15-6-4) on the scoreboard with 3:37 left in the second period. He took Colin McKelvey’s long pass and broke in alone on goaltender Andrew Hildreth and beat him for a goal.
Just 39 seconds later, Kittanning’s Zach Avi intercepted a pass in the Pine-Richland zone and broke in on alone on goal. He roofed a shot to make it a 4-2 game.
“When they made it 4-2, I was not a happy coach,” Black said.
Fodor answered 13 seconds later for the Rams when he swung around the Kittanning defense and slipped the puck into the net for a 5-2 advantage. Adams and Phil Trombetta assisted on the play.
“It was kind of a huge letdown when they got those two quick goals,” Fodor said. “I just knew I had to step up and do whatever I could to change the momentum back to our favor.”
The goal was a huge boost for the Rams and a deflating one for the Wildcats.
“That’s the type of player he is. Just like that he makes it a 5-2 game – [the Wildcats] were still celebrating on the bench,” Black said. “Josh played a complete game. He wasn’t worried about scoring goals. He was worried about team defense and cleaning everything up in the defensive end, too.”
Dylan Trombetta pushed Pine-Richland’s lead to 6-2 when he scored 1:32 into the third period. Saad and Adams had the helpers.
The freshman completed his hat-trick 2:26 later when he slid a puck into the net for a 7-2 edge. Saad and Brendan Conlon had the assists.
John Ford’s slapper just trickled through goaltender Hildreth with 4:12 remaining to slice Kittanning’s deficit to 7-3. Toby Toy and Evan Blodgett assisted on the goals.
Saad sealed the contest when he scored an unassisted goal with 2:21 to play.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ryan Malone, an Upper St. Clair native, dropped the ceremonial first puck.