NA Edged by Pine-Richland In Penguins Cup Championship, 3-2

Posted on:

Photo Gallery by J.J. LaBella

In the regular season, Pine-Richland narrowly defeated North Allegheny twice in a pair of one-goal games. Dueling for a third time in the Penguins Cup Class AAA championship, the Rams once again edged the Tigers, 3-2, to win their fifth PIHL title and first since 2019.

Neighborhood rivals North Allegheny and Pine-Richland have battled plenty times over the years with a championship at stake in a variety of sports. However, when it came to the Penguins Cup ice hockey playoffs, Tuesday’s title tilt was the first playoff meeting between the two schools since 1975.

After a scoreless first period, Pine-Richland broke the ice for the game’s first goal just 42 seconds into the second period. Boasting the best power play unit in Class AAA in the regular season, the Rams capitalized on their first man-advantage of the night on a marker by senior captain Zachary Howard for a 1-0 lead. The goal occurred when senior Benjamin Baileys sent a puck toward the net from the left point and deflected twice, the second carom coming off the body of Howard, and into the NA net.

At the 4:46 mark of the second period, it was another power play and another bad bounce that led to Pine-Richland’s next goal. A wrist shot by sophomore Cullen Campbell deflected off the shoulder of North Allegheny keeper Camden Junker and ricocheted off the cross bar, settling in the goal crease. Freshman Carson Verszyla alerted jammed the lonely puck into the back of the net to give Pine-Richland a 2-0 advantage.

The Rams’ two-goal lead remained intact until the Tigers were awarded a power play of their own in the opening minute of the third period. At the 1:42 mark of the third, senior Evan Kerber, who led North Allegheny in the regular season with five power play goals, struck again for his first goal of the playoffs. The marker by Kerber trimmed the deficit to 2-1 and was assisted by senior captain Ryan Jackman and junior Travis Lamark.

Pine-Richland regained its two-goal lead at the 5:50 mark of the third period when freshman Colten Andrighetti netted his first goal of the postseason to increase the score to 3-1, Rams.

In the waning minutes, North Allegheny pulled Junker for an extra skater and the move paid off courtesy of a goal by sophomore Gianni Lochiatto with just 1:04 left to cut the deficit to 3-2. Lochiatto’s goal, his second of the playoffs, was assisted by sophomore Luke Walkauskas and junior Marc Joyson.

The Tigers continued to apply pressure on the Rams net down to the final seconds but Pine-Richland staved off NA’s rally for a 3-2 victory.

Junker made 30 saves for North Allegheny and Pine-Richland goalie Brett Sudac stopped 27 pucks to earn the victory.

The North Allegheny senior class of Kerber, Jackman, Aidan Anthony, Andrew Long, Logan Cerqua, Evan Perrotte and Alex Dorsch were recognized as the Wright Automotive Players of the Game for their outstanding careers over the last four years.

Congratulations to head coach Andrew Seiss and the entire North Allegheny ice hockey team for another memorable season in 2023-2024.

Ice Hockey Summary vs. Pine-Richland, 3-19-24

North Allegheny0022