Mesaros leads Latrobe to tie with Kittanning
All-star defenseman Matt Mesaros hasn’t played on the Latrobe blue line for very long. In fact, the senior only moved back this season because of a team-wide youth movement.
Luckily for his teammates, he remembered how to shoot the puck.
Mesaros one-timed a slapshot past Kittanning goaltender Joey Mercurio to complete a third-period comeback and lead Latrobe (5-6-3) to a 2-2 tie with visiting Kittanning on Monday at Kirk Nevin Arena.
Jeff Joe Regula pulled the puck back from the right circle to the top of the left, and with Mercurio still leaning on the post closest Regula, Mesaros had an open net to shoot at.
“Two games in a row, back-to-back, we tied this team,” Latrobe coach Ron Makoski said. “The kids really were determined that they weren’t going to take a loss here.”
In addition to scoring the game-tying goal, Mesaros set up Latrobe’s first goal, a power-play tally by Ryan Laduke, with 8:42 left in regulation.
“Things just haven’t been falling for us,” Kittanning coach Jon Yackmack said. “We had opportunities after that, and when they scored on the faceoff for their tying goal, we had guys out of position. But that’s how it goes.”
Kittanning (6-4-4) scored power-play goals in each of the first two periods before Latrobe came back with two third-period goals to earn a much-needed point in the PIHL Class AA North Division.
Heading into last night’s game, only five points separated first-place Greensburg Central Catholic (17) from last-place Latrobe (12).
Latrobe and Kittanning struggled to get scoring chances during the first period and played much of that time battling between the blue lines.
But during the second period and on a power play, Justin Kovatch picked up a rebound in the low slot and banged it home for his team-leading 12th of the season to put Kittanning on top, 1-0.
Kittanning took a two-goal lead the next time it had the man-advantage. Early in the second period, Kittanning forward Nick Troup made Latrobe pay, when he snapped a rebound past goaltender Nick Loyacona.
“The first penalty was a bad penalty, because it was an unsportsmanlike conduct and they scored on a four-minute penalty,” Makoski said. “The other penalty was unnecessary, and they got another one. But all in all, I’m proud of these kids.”
Latrobe had its best opportunity before the intermission to get back into the game late in the second period, when it was given a two-man advantage for 22 seconds.
But Kittanning countered and killed off the first power play and finished off the second less than two minutes into the third period with its two-goal lead still intact.
“I can’t say that I was feeling good, because we haven’t played the best hockey that we’re capable of playing,” Yackmack said. “I’m waiting to see that, and I’m waiting for it to happen. And I thought I would see that here, but we haven’t gotten to that point.”