SOUTHPOINTE – Prior to the Peters Township hockey team’s PIHL Penguins Cup Class AAA quarterfinal against No. 9 Central Catholic Thursday night, more than a passing mention was made about having a stronger performance than this stage last year, when the Indians needed two late goals just to slip past Mt. Lebanon.
Reminded plenty this week of that game, Peters Township wasn’t about to let history repeat itself.
The Indians built a 3-0 lead in the first period and never looked back during a 7-3 win at Southpointe Iceoplex.
Senior captain Trevor Recktenwald helped Peters Township flex its considerable muscle with a four-point night, and Brady Cochrane notched a hat trick to pace the offense.
It was a near-flawless performance and one that came eight days after the Indians’ last game.
“We’ve been off for a little more than a week now, and it was good to make sure that we all had our legs underneath us,” Recktenwald said. “We had a nice warmup before the game. We came out strong in the first period, and that was important.”
The win puts top-seeded Peters Township (18-4) in the Class AAA semifinals against State College next Wednesday at RMU’s Island Sports Center.
North Allegheny and Bethel Park will meet in the other semifinal the same night.
Peters Township has now won 14 straight games after notching its largest goal total since scoring nine during a Feb. 4 win over Penn Trafford.
“It was amazing,” Cochrane said. “Huge win for us. Couldn’t be happier with it.”
And understandably so, especially early.
Peters Township wasted little time – 72 seconds, in fact – before Recktenwald scored from the outer edge of the right circle.
Cochrane and Matt Amelio made it 3-0 with goals 32 seconds apart, seemingly turning this into a rout. But Central Catholic (11-9-2) found some life when Nick Tabaka and Jesse Yeckel scored within 41 seconds of each other early in the second.
“We got the three goals, and we wanted the fourth because that’s when you start to breathe a little more comfortable,” Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. “Then we let them back in it.”
But not for long.
Recktenwald scored on a rebound, something he said Peters Township expected to exploit against Central Catholic, and Cochrane made it 5-2 with a wrister from the left dot before time expired in the second.
“They put a lot of pressure on us,” Central Catholic coach J. Kirk Freyvogel Jr. “They got a lot of shots low off rebounds, and they were there. They cleaned up the areas that they needed to clean up. We weren’t really there tonight.”
Anthony Parrucci got a goal at 1:23 of the third period, but Cochrane completed his hat trick, and Adam Alavi used a beautiful curl-and-drag move to score short-handed at 12:24.
Peters Township goaltender Brian Baker made 25 saves. Carter Ekberg, Alex DeBolt, and Giovanni Carbonara added two assists apiece.
“It was a nice win,” Tingle said. “Still let up a couple in the defensive zone that we didn’t feel too good about. We have to work on that. It’s still the first (playoff) game. Better than last year’s quarterfinal.”