In the immortal words of T.O., get your popcorn ready, because we’ve already had some OT in the 2011 Penguins Cup Playoffs.
They began in pulse-pounding fashion on Monday, with a sudden-death finish, a couple other tight games, and the first big upset of the postseason, as Class AAA Section 4 champion State College bowed to No. 11 seed and section rival Norwin.
Action continues on Tuesday with a smaller handful of games that should be nonetheless compelling and set the stage for an exciting, jam-packed Quarterfinal Wednesday.
So without further ado, here’s what Mr. High School Sports thinks of the day-two playoff action coming to a rink near you:
CLASS AA FIRST ROUND: #7 Elizabeth Forward (10-9-1) vs. #10 Moon (7-13-0) (7:15) – Rostraver Ice Garden
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Justin Delmaster, Elizabeth Forward (20 G, 28 A; 48 pts. – 7th in Class AA); Nigel Crighton, Moon (33 G, 25 A; 58 pts. – 3rd in Class AA)
MR. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SAYS: After the overtime thriller these two teams staged at Rostraver not long ago, I have reason to believe this may be one of the more entertaining games of the entire playoffs, especially if the Warriors can generate power play opportunities and give Delmaster some good looks at the net. As long as Crighton is healthy and on the ice the Tigers are never out of any game, though I’ll give a slight edge to the hosts, who have a tad more scoring depth.
WINNER: ELIZABETH FORWARD.
CLASS A FIRST ROUND: #7 South Fayette (11-8-2) vs. #10 Sewickley Academy (7-14-0) (8:00) – Ice-O-Plex at Southpointe
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nick Schultz, South Fayette (18 G, 21 A; 39 pts. – hat trick in last meeting); Ed Lally, Sewickley Academy (26 G, 12 A; 38 pts. – 3 G in last two meetings)
MR. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SAYS: One of the most improved teams in the league did not finish the regular campaign well, but with Michael Coyne providing solid goaltending, the Lions should be able to take their first playoff game since rejoining the league. Schultz always seems to be quite the opportunistic forward and can spark their offense, though they must be responsible in their own zone and help out Coyne, especially with an extraordinary puck-moving D like Lally not afraid to jump into the rush.
WINNER: SOUTH FAYETTE.
CLASS AAA FIRST ROUND: #5 North Allegheny (12-6-2) vs. #12 Plum (7-11-2) (8:00) – BladeRunners Ice Complex, Warrendale
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Ryan Worsena, North Allegheny (12 G, 12 A; 24 pts. – 0 pts. in last two meetings); Hunter Brett, Plum (19 G, 10 A; 29 pts. – 2 G in last meeting)
MR. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SAYS: The Mustangs, in the play-in game, got under the skin of Mount Lebanon, a team known for stubborn defense, and now they face another traditional powerhouse that knows how to take care of business in its own zone and they’ve beaten NA once already. Although the Tigers have to work much harder to finish plays and usually count on Worsena to help do so, head coach Jim Black will have them ready for this one and is a proven postseason winner. In addition, Matt Goda has blossomed into an elite goalie who can make his team a factor in this year’s tournament.
WINNER: NORTH ALLEGHENY.
For continuing coverage of the Penguins Cup Playoffs, be sure to check back with Mr. High School Sports later this week, and also check out the Pittsburgh Youth Hockey Network for all the scores and brackets!