Dagnal’s 2 goals in debut lead PT to Miner’s Cup win

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CANONSBURG – When Peters Township was taking the ice for preseason practices, Jonathan Dagnal did not think he’d play for the Indians in his senior season.

With plans to play junior hockey for the Esmark Stars, Dagnal did not join the team. Two weeks ago, his plans changed. Dagnal decided to join the Indians for the PIHL season and was cleared by Peters Township head coach Rick Tingle to begin practicing.

With only two practices to gel with his linemates, Dagnal was nervous going into his varsity debut in the Miner’s Cup game against Canon-McMillan. The left-winger did just fine, as Dagnal scored two goals and the Indians overcame mental miscues to defeat the Big Macs, 7-4, at the Iceoplex Tuesday night.

“It feels great,” Dagnal said. “I was little nervous coming into the game, and with people talking me up at school I felt some pressure to perform. It felt good to do this is a huge rivalry game and it was a lot of fun.”

With the fifth annual Miner’s Cup tied 2-2 midway through the second period, Adam Alavi dug the puck out of the corner in the Indians’ zone and found Dagnal skating at center ice. Alavi’s pass found Dagnal who beat the goalie blocker side for his first goal of his varsity career and gave Peters Township the one-goal lead.

Carter Ekberg added a goal off a slap shot seven minutes later when a Canon-McMillan defender turned the puck over in his own zone, passing it directly to Ekberg who fired a shot far side for the goal. While The Indians capitalized on the opportunities, the Big Macs dominated play throughout the second period, outshooting Peters Township 15-6. Poor play in the neutral zone and turnovers cost the Indians in the final seconds of the period.

With the Big Macs on the power play and the puck in the Indians’ zone, Peters Township (6-1) was scrambling behind its own net to kill the final seconds until a loose puck was gathered by Canon-McMillan senior J.D. Oddi. Oddi passed the puck to the point, where Austin Tonkovich faked a shot and dished it over to the other blueliner, Garrett Woznichak. With one second left on the clock, Woznichak’s wrist shot beat Peters Township goalie Brian Baker to narrow the Indians’ lead to one heading into the third period.

“We did not play well for two periods,” Tingle said. “We gave up a goal that we shouldn’t have given up at the end of the second on a puck that we should have iced or just held onto to kill the final seconds. We knew that would give them life heading into the third and that’s not a good situation to be in. They scored four third-period goals against Seneca Valley so we knew they were capable of coming back.”

A critical Canon-McMillan (4-3) mistake less than two minutes into the third period cost the Big Macs their momentum. Luc Tilley was called for high-sticking to give Peters Township the power play. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the man advantage, Avali won a battle to the puck in the Big Macs’ zone. With two defenders trying to gain possession of the puck, Dagnal was left wide-open heading toward the front of the net.

Avali’s pass found the backhand of Dagnal’s stick, who held onto the puck for a second before switching to his forehand to freeze the goalie and give the Indians the 5-3 lead.

Dagnal finished the game with two goals, while Avali, Peters Township’s leading scorer, had two goals and two assists.

“(Jonathan Dagnal) played really well,” Tingle said. “He hits hard, skates well and is a strong kid. He does a lot of the things that you can’t get enough of. You can’t have enough kids like Jonathan on a team.”

Less than five minutes later, Peters Township capitalized on a Canon-McMillan penalty again when Josef Kettleberger’s slapshot went off the leg pad of the Big Macs’ goalie and was put into the back of the net by Jacob Dachille. Canon-McMillan scored off an odd bounce with less than four minutes remaining, but Avali’s empty-net goal sealed the victory for the Indians.

“We did not play well until the third period,” Tingle said. “We got a little more energy and capitalized on the emotion of the rivalry game. We still have a lot to work on since we played two-thirds of the game incredibly sloppy.”

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