Plum hockey gets long-awaited win against Chartiers Valley
The Plum varsity ice hockey team moved down to Class AA for the 2011-12 season and began playing Chartiers Valley.
In that first season, the Colts swept the Mustangs, winning twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs to the tune of a combined goal total of 27-9.
Last year, Chartiers Valley topped Plum, 6-3, and the Colts edged the Mustangs, 3-2, a couple of weeks ago.
The first matchup this season was stopped with about eight minutes to go in the third period because of the PIHL’s curfew rule.
Prior results against Chartiers Valley, and the fact that the teams were separated by one point in the Class AA standings were more than enough motivation for Plum on Monday at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington.
When it was all said and done, the Mustangs got the Colts monkey off their back and came through with a hard-fought 4-3 victory.
“This was probably our best team win of the season,” junior starting goaltender James Borriello said.
The win vaulted Plum into third place in AA with 23 points (10-5-3) with four games left in the regular season.
Bishop Canevin (15-2, 30 points) and Erie Prep (13-3-2, 28 points) currently own the top two spots.
Armstrong has 22 points and has only played 15 games. Hampton also has 22 points and has four games remaining.
Chartiers Valley remained at 20 points (10-7-0).
“We’re just trying to get a good playoff placement, and we knew (the Colts) were even with us from the start. We just have to keep battling,” senior defenseman Zach Kuhn said.
“The whole game (Monday) was just intense. It was back-and-forth the whole game. It was the kind of game we expected. Before the game, coach told us that we weren’t going to win the game all at once. It was about winning one shift at a time, and we were able to do that, for the most part. Everybody, from freshman and first-year players to seniors, stepped up.”
Plum won for the third time in a row since its loss to the Colts.
“Chartiers Valley is one of the best teams in the league, and it feels great to finally be able to beat them,” senior Joe Randazzo said.
“Tonight, we played harder. We got some good goals and some good goaltending.”
Randazzo had a four-point night, including a natural hat trick in the second period after the Colts got on the board first in the first period.
The goals were his 25th, 26th and 27th of the season. He tallied one on the power play, and it was his seventh with the man advantage in the 2013-14 campaign.
Chartiers Valley rallied to tie the game in the third period, but Plum wouldn’t be denied. Junior David Stonebraker accepted a pass from Randazzo and scored on Colts netminder Alexander Chabala with 2:35 to play.
“We thought we had lost all the momentum, but then we struck with a big goal,” Kuhn said.
Chartiers Valley pulled its goalie for an extra attacker with about 1:24 left in regulation.
The Colts put a ton of pressure on Borriello and the Mustangs defense, but both held strong and kept the visitors from tying the game.
“It was quite hectic at the end,” Borriello said. “I just tried to stay low and stay focused. The defense did a great job the whole game clearing rebounds, blocking shots and helping me see the puck clearly.”
Plum head coach Dave Stonebraker said he was pleased with the determination of his team to not let the game slip away.
“Chartiers Valley is a solid, well-coached team,” he said.
“The defense played with poise. They played intelligent hockey and stayed away from any frays after the whistle. They played a physical and disciplined game.
“At the ice cut (between the second and third periods), I told the guys we didn’t want to come back out and walk away with a loss. There was no panic when we went down by a goal early or when they came back in the third period. There was no question in their minds that they were going to win that game. They fought so hard at the end.”
Plum will try to make it a season sweep against West Allegheny as the teams meet Monday at 9 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena.
The Mustangs beat the Indians, 3-0, on Nov. 25.
Plum will face Armstrong on Feb. 13, and close the regular season with a home-and-home series with North Hills on Feb. 17 and 24.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review sports reporter. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, email@example.com or via Twitter .