Tigers Claw Past Panthers, 2-1

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Playing with a shorthanded lineup for the second straight game, the North Allegheny ice hockey team grinded out a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Upper St. Clair Panthers on Monday night.

The Tigers were without six players and faced a similarly hindered USC team, that had only been on the ice together three times all season, including one game and two practices. Despite those challenges, both teams played in a thrilling and free-flowing game with plenty of excitement.

In the first period, North Allegheny opened the scoring when junior Connor Chi sent a pass ahead to sophomore Austin Peterson for a 2-on-1 rush. With Chi to his right, Peterson beat USC goalie Jake Fisher with a low wrist shot from the left wing circle for a 1-0 lead at the 6:42 mark of the first period. The goal for Peterson was his team-leading fourth of the season.

Boasting Class AAA’s leading scorer from a season ago, Mitch Geinzer, Upper St. Clair responded thanks to fine pass from the senior captain. At the 10:09 mark of the first period, Geinzer threaded pass from the right wing to the top of the crease where senior Aaron Stawiarski deflected the puck into the net to even the score at 1-1.

It appeared NA might grab the lead back with 4:30 to play in the period when Will Mensch broke loose for a breakaway but Fisher denied the Tigers and the game remained tied, 1-1.

In the second period, it was North Allegheny goalie Josh Bailey who turned away the Panthers from a potential go ahead marker. With just under eight minutes to play in the stanza, Geinzer was stopped on a sprawling save by Bailey. With 7:29 to go in the period, Bailey robbed Alex Contis on a rebound opportunity with a spectacular save and the game remained deadlocked at 1-1.

Nearing the end of the second period, it was apparent that the Tigers were wearing down against the Panthers speedy forwards. Coming out of intermission, North Allegheny was energized with a goal by Nolan Colinear just 59 seconds into the third period for a 2-1 lead. The goal by Colinear was assisted by junior Cole Jackman.

In the remaining minutes of the third period, the Tigers killed two USC power plays and frustrated the Panthers with feisty defense in the neutral zone to hold on for a 2-1 triumph. Spearheading NA’s stellar effort was Chi, who was selected as the Wright Automotive Player of the Game for his invigorating play from start to finish.

With the win, North Allegheny improves to 2-1 on the season, while Upper St. Clair falls to 0-2. The Tigers will visit Butler on Nov. 23 at 9:10 p.m.

Ice Hockey Summary vs. Upper St. Clair, 11-16-20

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