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VALENCIA - Kittanning learned its lesson from Friday night's contest with Indiana. When protecting a two goal lead, do not hurt yourself with penalties. Hampton, meanwhile, was flying high and undefeated under Craig Clontz. As it did Friday, the Wildcats pushed out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Greg Bowser and Zach Cain less than a minute apart. Hampton kept pressing and it paid off as John Bongiovanni scored with just 5 1/2 left in the first period. In the second, Hampton was self destructing with penalties, in fact gave Kittanning a 5 on 3 advantage. The Wildcats could not capitalize and the gave the Talbots new life as Mark Persic rammed home a rebound and all the sudden we had a new game at 2-2. But the young Wildcats hung in there and waited for their chance and Andy Coldron found a loose puck on a rebound and scored with 6:08 remaining. Hampton pulled the goalie for the extra attacker, but couldn't score and Kittanning went on to win a big divisional battle 3-2.
HARMARVILLE - Bethel Park coach Jim McVay does some great impersonations when speaking about his two-time defending state championship team. The best one is his explanation of how Bethel Park should not be ranked # 1 in the polls. Hey Mort, we may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night ! Central Catholic coach Kevin Zielmanski wasn't buying any and called his team into a meeting to try to solve what Western Pennsylvania has been trying to solve for a few years now. The championship game had a feeling out process in the first period as each team was intent on making the first mistake. Then Central put BP on the power play and at the 6:48 mark Tom Starkey banged home a cross ice feed, while camped in front of Russ Hefner to give Bethel Park a 1-0 lead. After a glut of penalties on both teams, midway through the 2nd, Rob Donatucci picked up a loose puck and rifled a wrist shot past Matt Fiege to tie the game at one apiece and send the CC faithful into a frenzie. The Vikings stay in a tie on some terrific goaltending by Hefner, who stopped 19 of 21 shots, many which were quality opportunities for Bethel. Late in the third, with the game still tied Central went on the power play, but the Hawks turn them back with textbook penalty killing. With under a minute to play, Bethel estbalished play in the CC zone and pelted Hefner with many chances. The old adage is play til the whistle, and Lee Volensky found a free puck in fort and pocked it by Hefner with just 11 seconds remaining to give BP a hard fought victory 2-1. The Hawks outshot the Vikings 21-18.
Indiana - Kittanning Coach Jeff Smouse knows he has a promising young squad this season with a dozen or so sophomores in the starting lineup. He has watched his young Wildcats have success early this season and looked forward to this stretch of schedule which includes Indiana and Hampton, two of the PIHL's AA unbeaten. Indiana was home with the Friday night big crowd and a sparse group of the 'Hockey Holligans' (when compared to last years group). Well, anyway this was a big game for Indiana too ! Kittanning's Adam Toy made several key saves early in the first period on Aaron Smith and Brian Schlemmer. At the other end, Luke Heller got a stick on a Justin Avi shot from the point and Kittanning gained the 1-0 lead on the road. The the Indians went on the power play and the usually sure handed Nicko Speilmann got his pocket picked, as Andy Coldron stole the puck and scored on the breakaway to give Kittanning the 2-0 lead at 6:31. This looked like it was Kittanning's night, when Toy robbed Zach Diamond with a great arm save on a sure goal. This was a save comparable to Frank Pietrangelo's save against New Jersey on the Penguins first Stanley Cup. Indiana continued to dominate outshooting the 'Cats 12-4 in the first period and got on the board with less than a minute left in the first as Speilmann toe dragged the puck around the Kittanning defender and in the same motion snapped a blistering shot past Toy to make it 2-1. The second period was all Indians outshooting Kittanning 12-3 courtesy of several undiscpline penalties by the young Wildcats. Speilmann tied it on the rebound at the 8:09 mark. Kittanning regained the lead 3-2 as Justin Avi banged home his own rebound and swatted it past Mike Lady. Indiana kept getting power plays and converting as Mike Nesper took a feed from Speilmann, and snapped it past Toy at 4:46 to tie the game. Casey Haines, the super freshman, showed the poise a senior, as he walked out of the corner and snapped a shot past Toy on the glove side to give the Indians their first lead with just 1:13 left in the period 4-3. The third period was the prize fighter looking for the knock out punch. Toy kept Kittanning in the game as the shots were 13-3 in favor of the Indians. Zach Diamond scored the apparant knock out at 10:37, but the goal was waived off. Then another power play for Indiana and Nesper walked out of the corner and beat Toy at 10:24 through the five hole to give the Indians the 5-3 victory. This sets up a huge game Monday for Indiana and Peters Township at Iceoplex. Kittanning moves on to an equally big game against undefeated Hampton on Sunday at the Ice Connection.
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MONROEVILLE - Penn Hills/Hempfield Plum/ Gateway Well a doubleheader night for Pa Hockey or so it seemed ! Upon arriving at the rink, I had the best parking space at the Golden Mile because there was no one there ! The games were postponed ! One scary highlight....there was a Mark Madden sighting in the parking lot.