NA Advances To Penguins Cup Championship, Defeats Seneca Valley, 4-2

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The North Allegheny ice hockey team advanced to the Penguins Cup Class AAA championship with a 4-2 win over the Seneca Valley Raiders on Monday night at the RMU Island Sports Center in the PIHL semifinals. The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and staved off a furious rally by the Raiders to advance to the Penguins Cup title game for the first time since winning their fourth PIHL crown in 2021. In the championship next week, the Tigers will face neighborhood rival Pine-Richland, who defeated two-time reigning champion Peters Township, 4-2.

North Allegheny stormed out of the gates in the first period and cashed in on several turnovers by Seneca Valley. At the 3:15 mark of the first period, sophomore Ed Scherer scored on a feed from behind the net by fellow sophomore Luke Walkauskas for an immediate 1-0 lead. At the 11:59 mark, a steal by Walkauskas led to a goal of his own and a 2-0 lead for the Tigers. In similar fashion, junior defenseman Gianni Lochiatto capitalized on a Seneca Valley turnover and scored on a sharp-angled shot from the left wing circle and increased the NA advantage to 3-0 with just 48 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.

Seneca Valley, who split regular season meetings with North Allegheny in the regular season, didn’t go away quietly and started to rally in the second period. At the 7:37 mark, Jacob Gilbert jammed home a rebound on a shot from Ian Uram and the Raiders cracked the scoreboard, trailing 3-1.

The persistent pressure from the Raiders continued in the third period and eventually paid off for another goal early in the stanza. Sophomore Marshall Hewitt closed the gap to 3-2, Tigers, with a goal just 2:49 into the period. Seneca Valley outshot North Allegheny, 33-20, but couldn’t find the equalizer against junior goalie Camden Junker, who made 31 saves to earn his second straight playoff victory.

Desperate to avoid elimination late in the third period, the Raiders pulled goaltender Cenzo Ditullio in the waning minutes. Epitomizing the game for the Tigers on the final shot of the night, sophomore Marc Joyson stole the puck on the forecheck and tallied an empty net goal with 24 seconds remaining to put the punctuation on a 4-2 victory for the Tigers.

Ditullio made 16 saves on the night for Seneca Valley, including a pair of crucial stops in the third period that kept the Raiders within striking distance down the stretch.

Earning a goal and an assist in the first period, Walkauskas got the Tigers off to a quick start and earned Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors.

North Allegheny advances to the Penguins Cup Championship to face Pine-Richland at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19 at the UPMC Mario Lemieux Complex in Cranberry.

Ice Hockey Summary vs. Seneca Valley, 3-11-24

Seneca Valley0112
North Allegheny3014