Upper St. Clair took advantage of 5-of-6 power plays but when it came to man-to-man hockey Pine-Richland one-upped the Panthers and captured the Penguins Cup in the Class AA division of the PIHL.
By virtue of their 7-5 triumph against USC, the Rams (21-0-1) advanced to the Pennsylvania Cup finals set for 1:30 p.m. March 23 against Downingtown East (17-5-0) at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island.
“Upper St. Clair has a really good power play,” P-R senior captain Will Studt said. “We knew what they were doing, and we still couldn’t stop them. They’re tough.”
In the final 10 minutes of action and at even strength, Studt and the Rams were tougher. In fact, the nip-and-tuck contest swung on three unanswered, 5-on-5 strikes, ignited by Studt. He knotted the contest at 6:18. Jared Eggert and Joseph Folmer followed with the game-winning and insurance tallies at the 7:27 and 9:39 marks of the third period.
Meanwhile, the Panthers came out of intermission on the attack, scoring within the first minutes of action in the final period to forge ahead, 5-4. On the power play, Anthony Carone scored at 1:28. Twenty-seven seconds later, Carone then assisted on Quinn Giacobbe’s goal. Devin Rohrich and Joseph Pulit assisted on Carone’s tally.
USC initiated the scoring at 13:35 to take a 1-0 advantage in the first frame. Again on the power play, Carone scored with Pulit and Rohrich picking up the assists.
Folmer knotted it before the period end but Colton Shiry opened up another USC lead at the 3:28 mark in the second stanza. Carone and Rohrich assisted.
After a pair of Ram goals from Eggert and Studt, Rohrich tied the game, 3-3, with his tally at 8:26. Carone and Pulit picked up assists. But, Brandon Kashur closed the second-period scoring giving P-R the edge, 4-3, heading into the locker room.
While the Panthers put 39 shots on goal against Daniel Stauffer, Kyle Rohrich was bombarded by 45 Ram shots.
With the loss, USC finished the season at 16-4-2 overall.