The Penguins Cup Class “AAA” Final started with a bang…a few of them.
The game between the North Allegheny Tigers and the Peters Township Indians Wednesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center had many more hits than scoring opportunities as NA sent a message early that they were going to come right at Peters Township.
Both teams settled in and a defensive struggle emerged as neither team wanted to make a mistake early. Goaltenders on both sides started the game strong but Indian's net minder Brian Baker had to fend off an early attack by the Tigers to keep things scoreless.
Along with the physical play brought many trips to the penalty box for both teams that allowed for some good excitement but both sides penalty kill units were up to the challenge and both teams entered the locker room tied after 34 minutes.
As the teams regrouped and emerged for the third period, safe plays and quick transitions limited the shots for both teams. It wasn’t until North Allegheny established a small amount of offensive zone pressure and on what seemed like a harmless play down the right wing the tide would turn.
With Joe Griffin applying pressure to Indians defenseman Carter Ekberg play was forced back towards the net and in an attempt to clear the puck Ekberg mishandled it and the puck caught Baker off guard bounced off the goaltender’s skate and into the back of the net giving North Allegheny the pivotal first score at the 5:10 mark of the third. The goal would be credited to Griffin and he wasn’t done.
Peters Township began to apply the pressure spending a lot of time in the offensive zone but not gaining many quality scoring chances as North Allegheny buckled down.
Griffin would score his second of the game with assist from Matt Fantaski expanded their lead with just 3:21 to play
NA was able to keep the Indians off the board thanks to sparkling performance by the Tigers Bradford Thornburgh between the pipes lifting North Allegheny to the Penguins Cup title for the first time since 2007.
North Allegheny (18-4-2) will now advance to the Pens-Flyers Cup Final against Flyers Champ LaSalle Saturday in Aston, PA.
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