Monday, January 21, 2013

Ready for some hockey?

Canon-McMillan (9-4-2, 20 points) vs. Peters Township (9-4-0, 18 points)
Southpointe Iceoplex, 8:30 p.m.

Main storyline: With an Indians win, the two will be tied for first place in Section 1-AAA, though Peters Township would hold the tiebreaker because of two head-to-head wins. Should Canon-Mac win, the Big Macs will have a four-point lead in the section with five games to go.

Who to watch: Several players rank among the league leaders. Here are a few:

1. Trevor Recktenwald, Peters Township: 20 goals, 27 assists, 47 points
T-4. Carmen Dalesandro, Canon-McMillan: 18 goals, 16 assists, 34 points
T-4. Adam Alavi, Peters Township: 18 goals, 16 assists, 34 points
5. Alex Debolt, Peters Township: nine goals, 24 assists, 33 points
6. Anthony Tonkovich, Canon-McMillan: 13 goals, 19 assists, 32 points

Last meeting: Peters Township won, 5-2, on Dec. 17. Adam Alavi had three goals -- on a rebound, a dump-in and a wrister. Indians goalie Brian Baker stopped 31 of 33 shots. PT erased an early 2-1 deficit. Here's the link to my game story.

Some context: That game, at the time, pitted two teams moving in entirely different directions. Canon-Mac had gone 5-0-2 in its past seven, averaging 6.7 goals per game. Peters Township, meanwhile, stumbled to a 4-4 start.

The win apparently rejuvenated Peters Township, which has won five straight since and has been averaging eight goals per contest. The exact opposite happened for Canon-Mac, with that loss begetting a three-game losing streak.

Fortunately for this matchup, Canon-Mac has turned things around, winning its past two games over Penn-Trafford (6-3) and Upper St. Clair (3-0). In that last one, on Jan. 17, Austin Tonkovich and Blair Oldaker scored on the power play, and goalie Ryan Christian stopped all 20 shots. Dalesandro added an empty-netter late.

Analysis: A win here is crucial for Canon-Mac, with North Allegheny (12-2), Bethel Park (9-3) and Central Catholic (8-5-1) next on the Big Macs' schedule.

One way Canon-McMillan could change the outcome would be to convert on the power play following an 0-for-6 outing last game that earned the team a tongue-lashing from head coach Yuri Krivokhija.

Last game, Baker had a clear view of most pucks coming his way, something Canon-Mac will surely hope to change this time. But that might be easier said that done with PT's scoring depth  -- three players with 30 or more points, six in double digits -- and the ability of Recktendwald, who can not only score but also distribute the puck quite nicely.

Should be a good one. Following along on Twitter for updates (@mackey_jason).

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