Warm Weather Doesn’t Deter Opening Game of PIHL Outdoor Charity Classic
/ Pittsburgh Penguins
The opening game of the PIHL High School Hockey Outdoor Charity Series pitted two of the top teams from Class A against each other in the cold of South Park’s outdoor rink in a benefit for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Research.
Quaker Valley (8-1-0) and Westmont Hilltop (6-1-2) had bragging rights to the conference on the line as both teams were coming off of impressive stretches and looking to make their mark within the Single A conference.
And it was Quaker Valley who took them home, as they skated to a 4-2 victory over Westmont Hilltop.
Unusually warm weather throughout the day took its toll on the South Park ice surface, but the ice crew on hand was able to mitigate the situation and ensure that the playing surface was safe for all of the participants.
The game got under way with both teams testing out the ice surface and feeling each other out, but it would be Quaker Valley that would strike first when defenseman Jake Pilewicz fired a shot from the center point that found its way through the legs of Hilltoppers goaltender Adam Ayre.
Both teams were treated to lengthy two-man advantages in the middle of the first, but neither team could convert. However, Westmont Hilltop took the momentum from their big penalty kill and scored a goal with just seven seconds left in the first period.
On the play, a Zakary Kindya outlet pass created a partial breakaway for Hilltoppers forward Zachary Nedrewski. His shot left a rebound chance from the side of the net for captain Noah McQuillian who buried the shot to tie the game.
Quaker Valley controlled much of the play to start the second period, but minutes later it was Westmont Hilltop who found themselves taking the lead. Kindya earned his second assist of the night when his shot from the point deflected off of the stick of Nedrewski. Quaker Valley appealed to the officials for a high-sticking penalty, but the goal stood – giving Westmont Hilltop their first lead of the game.
Things became tense as the second period drew to a close when Quaker Valley went on yet another two-man advantage. Despite relentless pressure in the Hilltoppers zone, goaltender Adam Ayre stood tall to prevent the Quakers from tying the game.
The final period began with a great shift of sustained pressure by Quaker Valley. Eventually, Quaker’s leading scorer Ryan Dickson was able to draw a penalty. On the ensuing power play, he scooped up a loose puck at the side of the net and buried it to tie the game just two minutes into the second period.
“It was just a lot of hard work. The puck popped out of a scrum and I just kind of jammed it in. It was just a good, hard-working play,” said Dickson. “We just wanted to calm down, shoot the puck on net, and drive the goal. We wanted to stop setting up one-timers; the ice just wasn’t good enough. We wanted to get pucks to the point, get shots on goal, and drive the net.”
And Quaker Valley would provide more of the same as the third period wore on. Dickson drew another penalty minutes later and the Quakers would again convert on the power play. Jayson Lottes worked the puck to the center point where Pilewicz was able to convert his second goal of the night to give Quaker Valley a 3-2 lead.
With time winding down in the third period, Westmont Hilltop pulled their goaltender in search of a last ditch effort to tie the game – but it would be Dickson scoring his 15th goal of the year and second of the night on an unassisted tally to wrap the game up for Quaker Valley.
Quakers head coach Kevin Quinn was quick to praise both his goaltender and his team’s focus throughout the game.
“Our goaltender, Doug Revak, did a great job for us tonight,” he said. “If you look at the way the first period went, he didn’t see a shot for the first few minutes, and then all of a sudden he’s taking shots on a 5-on-3. He was very sharp. We weren’t interested in any distractions tonight. Westmont Hilltop is a great team, an extremely hard working team, and we needed to make sure we had our focus ready.”