VIKINGS WIN PIHL TIER 1 CHAMPIONSHIP
JV1 TEAM TACKLES NA TIGERS, 3-2
In a tense, hard-hitting and exciting battle between the two top seeded teams after the PIHL regular season, first-seed Central Catholic JV-1 hockey team defeated second-seed North Allegheny, 3-2, in the Tier 1 junior varsity championships on Tuesday, March 28 at Ice Castle (Castle Shannon, PA).
After a scoreless first period, Aaron Williams put Central Catholic on the board first at 1:41 of the second period. He was assisted by DJ Burek and Christian Zavacky. North Allegheny tied it up less than a minute later. At 11:49 in the second, Ricky Castracani, with an assist from Aaron Daley, got the go-ahead on a shot from the point.
Early in the third, the Tigers notched their second goal to tie the match. The Vikings never let up and, at 2:53 in the third, Adam Sarkis tallied the eventual game-winner. He was helped by Daley and Burek, each of whom ended up with two points on the night. Goaltender Tom Puhalla faced 21 shots.
To get to this championship round, your Vikings hockey team defeated Bethel Park in the quarterfinals (4-1) at Ice Castle on March 14. Goals were scored by Jay Donahue, Clayton Kepperling, Cain Phillip (short-handed) and Zavacky. Assists were notched by Captain Joe Silvaggio, Sarkis, Jake Ochwat (2), Brayden Lewinter, and Kepperling. The Vikings defense soldiered any attempts that Bethel had offensively, only allowing 11 shots to get through to goaltender Ben Balla.
The battle to excise the demons of the 2022 PIHL Championship loss was facing the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils in the semi-finals on home ice -- and in front of a large crowd -- at Alpha Ice Complex. After a slow start that saw Lebo's Jackson Bell taking the Devils up 1-0 early in the first, it was all Vikings thereafter.
Goals were scored by Jack Marcello, J. Donahue (2), Daley. It was an all-team effort and assists went to Luke Jesso, Dan Donahue, Antonio Moret, and Castracani. Puhalla stopped 27 shots on goal.
Second-seed North Allegheny's path to the final took it through Peters Township (2-0) and Pine Richland (5-0). While Central Catholic finished the regular season in the number one spot with 11 wins, North Allegheny was knocking on the door with 10 wins -- including one against the Vikings. Central Catholic faced North Allegheny twice early in the regular season -- tying them once (3-3) and losing once (4-3).
Ultimately, Central Catholic got their first win over NA when it mattered the most!