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Upper St. Clair went 10 days between their final regular-season contest and Monday night’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Class AAA quarterfinal matchup with Penn Trafford at Ice Castle. It showed early as Penn Trafford spent the early portion of first period controlling the action while the Panthers got their legs back under them.
Near the end of the first period Upper St. Clair began clicking more like the No. 2 seed they were, and they rattled off two goals in 6:06 minutes to break a scoreless tie in what would become a 4-0 USC victory.
“I think we hadn’t played in about 10 days and that had a lot to do with it,” Upper St. Clair head coach Larry Marks said. “The kids were a little nervous and were keyed up. They didn’t come out as loose as I wanted them too. They were a little bit tight.”
Upper St. Clair used two goals from Justin Selep, a goal and an assist from C.J. Murray and three assists by James Kline to fend off Penn Trafford’s upset bid.
However, the bigger reasons Upper St. Clair advances to the semifinal round at Mellon Arena next Monday or Tuesday was a solid 20-save shutout performance in goal from goaltender Matt Wregget, son of former Penguin Ken, and a perfect effort from their penalty killing unit, which killed off all six Penn Trafford power plays, including a 1:26 two-man disadvantage at the outset of the second period.
“(Our team) did a great job killing penalties today,” Marks said. “We took too many penalties. We can’t do that in the next round or we aren’t going to be as good coming out of it.
“And what can you say (about Wregget)? This is the second year he has played for me. … He has been phenomenal. You can’t say enough about him.”
You also couldn’t say enough about the effort at the opposite end of the rink by Penn Trafford goaltender Mike Cheswick. The sophomore netminder saw 48 shots thrown this way, and he turned aside 44 of those, many of which were of the spectacular variety.
“He came out tonight and showed his skill level,” Penn Trafford head coach Steve Viron said. “Mike played a tremendous game today, he really did. … Mike did a really good job today. I’m proud of him.”
Penn Trafford nearly capitalized first when Chris Corrales took a pass in the slot just 3:56 into the first period and beat Upper St. Clair’s Wregget. However, Corrales’ shot did not end up in the net. Instead it glanced off the goal post to Wregget’s left and sailed out of play.
|Upper St. Clair netminder Matt Wregget made 20 saves to pick up the shutout on Monday. |
Almost five minutes later Upper St. Clair’s Selep drove wide down the right wing into the Penn Trafford end and threw a shot along the ice which was stopped by Cheswick. However Murray drove the net and banged home the rebound from right in front to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Upper St. Clair’s top line would strike again with 1:59 remaining in the opening frame as this time it was Murray firing a shot on goal from the near boards which was stopped by Cheswick, but Selep was standing right on the doorstep to take care of the garbage.
“I was always told to go to the net because of my size,” Selep said. “I know Kline and Murray will get the puck to me. If you go to the net, that is where you get your goals.”
Speaking of goals, Penn Trafford had quite a few quality chances to get one at the start of the second period.
Just 1:08 into the period Charles Dusetzina burst around the Upper St. Clair defense before Wregget stoned his backhand attempt. Dusetzina did draw a penalty on the play, giving the Warriors a two-man advantage. Thanks to a couple of big saves by Wregget, the Panthers were able to kill off that threat.
“That was tough,” Wregget said. “All of those shots were from right in front of the net. I had to stay focused. I was glad I didn’t give up any goals.”
“We practice that a lot,” Kline said of the penalty kill. “Hopefully we shut them down every time. It worked out pretty well for us tonight.”
Kline and Selep helped USC all but ice the game at 6:55 of the third period when Selep threw the rebound of Kline’s shot behind Cheswick to make it 3-0.
“Our offense is really starting to click, especially our line,” Kline said. “We continue to put out a good effort every game.”
Steve Gielarowski scored a late shorthanded goal for the Panthers to close out the scoring.Class AA: West Allegheny 4, Montour 1
Tyler Fitzgerald and Jon Levitt each had a goal and an assist and Pat Coburn chipped in with two helpers as West Allegheny opening the Class AA playoffs with a 4-1 victory over Montour on Monday.
Fitzgerald and Jared Disanti tallied in the opening frame while Levitt and Mason Eruon added goals in the second period as West Allegheny opened up a 4-0 lead after 30 minutes.
Zach Swartz scored late for Montour to break Jason Kumpfmiller’s shutout bid.
Kumpfmiller stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced while Matt Penz made 27 saves for Montour.Class A: Bishop McCort 5, Westmont Hilltop 3
Dane Domonkos led the way for Bishop McCort with a goal and two assists in a 5-3 quarterfinal round victory over Westmont Hilltop.
Kurtis Shaw contributed a goal and an assist while Brian Scott, Anthony Pioli and Zac Barto also found the back of the cage for Bishop McCort.
Noah McQuillan scored twice and Corey Schafer once for Westmont Hilltop.