Three proved an unlucky number for South Fayette and Peters Township in the PIHL finals.
On March 19 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, the Lions lost by three goals, 6-3, to Montour in the Penguins Cup Class AA final and in the third meeting between the clubs, Peters Township also dropped a three-goal decision, 3-0, to North Allegheny in the Class AAA championship.
They were difficult defeats for both teams as the Indians had been to the finals the past three seasons, losing also in last year’s championship game and the Lions had not surrendered more than four goals in any regular season game this year. South Fayette also had only allowed three goals in three other playoff games.
“It’s a tough thing,” SF head coach Frank Certo said. “The kids fought hard.”
He noted momentum as pivotal. While the Spartans opened up a three-goal lead before the Lions put the puck in the net, when they attempted to fight back into the contest, the Spartans neutralized them with an equalizer.
At the 5:08 mark in the second stanza, Nolan Sarnowski scored the first of his two goals for South Fayette. William Bishop assisted. Sarnowski struck again at the 9:59 mark to narrow the gap to 4-2. Jack Vanish and Adam Unruh assisted.
The Lions also closed within two goals, 5-3, four minutes into the final frame. Ian Kumar scored, off the dish from Ryan Eisel.
However, Ryan Eisel put the game out of reach with his even-strength goal at 14:17.
Michael Felsing and Richard Froehlich put the Spartans ahead, 2-0, to start the game. Dustin Geregach tacked on a tally and Montour led, 3-0, two minutes into the second period. Froehlick assisted. The pair switched it up with Froehlich scoring off the assist from Geregach. At 6:27 of the second period, Montour then led, 4-1.
Ethan Diffendal accounted for the third tally in the period and the Spartans went into the locker room for intermission, leading 5-2.
The Lions put 26 shots on goal against Zachary O’Malley. Bruce Hardman faced 23 shots in the nets for the Lions.
While South Fayette finished the season at 19-3-0, the Spartans improved to 21-1-0 and advanced to the Pennsylvania Cup final against West Chester, the five-time defending champion, March 23 at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.
Meanwhile, Peters Township posted a 16-4-1 record and NA (17-4-0) moved on to face La Salle College for the state championship.
Richard Karapandi proved the difference for the Tigers. He stopped 23 shots to earn a rare shutout against the Indians. Peters Township hadn’t gone scoreless since falling to NA, 2-0, in the 2013 Penguins Cup final.
Thirty seven seconds into the second stanza, Aaron Miller snapped the scoreless contest. He also polished off the scoring with an empty-netter with 58.7 seconds remaining in the game. In between, Will Parreaguirre scored off a deflected shot at the 5:42 mark for NA’s other goal.
Alex Wilbert faced 24 shots in the nets for Peters.