2021 PIHL Hockey Playoffs
WARRENDALE — The third time was not the charm for Seneca Valley's hockey team.
Having already dropped a pair of 4-3 decisions to North Allegheny in the regular season — the second one in a shootout last month — the Raiders needed to defeat the Tigers Monday to extend their season.
Trey Gallo scored 47 seconds into the game and the Raiders were never able to beat NA goalie Josh Bailey as the Tigers earned a 5-0 PIHL Class 3A quarterfinal victory at Baierl Ice Complex.
“We really needed to limit their odd-man rushes and wanted to score first,” said SV coach Anthony Raco. “They got that early goal and were able to take a lot of momentum from it.”
SV, which had allowed the Tigers a combined 77 shots on goal in the two previous meetings, managed to hold NA (14-7) to nine shots in the first period.
But the heat was turned up on Raiders' goalie Zander Stark in the second period. He made 13 saves in that span, but allowed another goal to Gallo six minutes into the period and Austin Peterson made it 3-0 minutes later, 18 seconds into a power play.
Gallo's second goal came from just inside the blue line.
“Seneca Valley is a good team and we needed to get off to a fast start,” said NA coach Mike Bagnato. “When you get up by a couple goals, as long as you continue to play hard ... we just made it really tough on them tonight.
“We got the puck in the zone and were aggressive. We out-worked them and won a ton of battles today.”
SV came painfully close to scoring in the second period. Forward Ryan Russell was denied by Bailey on a 1-on-1 opportunity early in the period.
Later, Patrick Dolan's shot got past the goalie and came within inches of putting the Raiders on the board, but the puck was retrieved just in time.
Trailing 3-0, the Raiders did receive a clear route to get back in the game.
NA's Kyle Holmes and Shane O'Neill were whistled for minor penalties late in the second period. The Raiders were slated to begin the final period with 22 seconds left on a 5-on-3 advantage and still would have enjoyed a man advantage for 90 seconds beyond that.
However, Bailey stopped two quick shots from the Raiders before SV's CJ Phillips took an interference penalty 29 seconds into the period, negating the duration of the power play.
“We were looking forward to that,” said Raco. “Then we take that penalty and it took away a lot of our steam.”
Peterson and Matt Irvin both found the net later in the third to cap the scoring.
Stark stopped 36 shots while Bailey's shutout came on the strength of 32 saves.
“If we're not the youngest team in (Class 3A), it's really close,” said Bagnato. “This was the best game we've played all year, from the goalie on up.”
The Raiders finish the season with a record of 13-8. They were 7-1 after eight games.
“I don't think kids get the credit they deserve. They've dealt with a lot over the last year,” said Raco. “I'm proud of our guys.”