Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peters Township puck preview

Tomorrow I will have a story on the Peters Township hockey team pursuing a PIHL Class AAA Penguins Cup title on the heels of an 0-for-2 showing in championship games at Consol Energy Center the past two years.

The Indians are one of the league's premier programs -- four Penguins Cups, three state titles -- but those losses have stopped Peters Township from winning its first championship since 2005.

Have they been the motivating factor many would expect?

Well, not necessarily. I'll explain why in the story.

For now, here are two nuggets that didn't make it. The first is the play of top line winger Alex Debolt.

Two years ago, Peters Township coach Rick Tingle told me, Debolt was a grinder, a third-line guy whose most important contribution was killing penalties. Not that Debolt was a bad player, but there were just so many talented players ahead of him.

That, of course, has changed.

Paired with senior captain Trevor Recktenwald and sophomore sniper Adam Alavi, Debolt has 15 goals and 50 points, good enough for third on the team.

"His role for the last few years has been that of a third-line guy, and he played that role terrifically," Tingle said of Debolt. "Not that he wasn't capable of doing more, but we had other people who were filling those roles. Then he stepped into the role of first-line winger and played that terrifically."

I also talked to goaltender Brian Baker yesterday, and he mentioned a couple of things that have helped the Indians: a team movie night, which Peters Township will hold tonight (captains are still debating the choice), and pasta dinners that have been hosted by different players' families all season.

"Everyone getting together is what's bringing us together," Baker said. "I think it really helps.

"I don't think we've ever had a team with as much chemistry before. Definitely the way the players are interacting this year, there's no singling out kids or any of that. We've been playing together."

Here's a look at the Class AAA bracket: 

(1) Peters Township (17-4) vs. (9) Central Catholic, (11-9-2), Thursday, Southpointe Iceoplex, 7:10 p.m. 

(2) Bethel Park (16-5) vs. (6) Upper St. Clair (13-7-2), Wednesday, Bladerunners-Bethel, 7 p.m.

(3) North Allegheny (15-4-2) vs. (7) Canon-McMillan (12-6-4), Wednesday, Bladerunners-Warrendale, 6:30 p.m.

(4) Seneca Valley (14-6-1) vs. (5) State College (15-7), Thursday, Bladerunners-Warrendale, 8 p.m.

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