Mt. Pleasant, PA – The Holiday season is upon us and the weather is getting cold. While the hockey players who get paid a ton of money are locked out, the hockey players who play for the love of the game continue on with their season in the PIHA!
To start off the weekend at Hot Shots Arena, the clash of the top teams in the Appalachian’s Minor Division took place for the battle for the #1 divisional seed as the first place Downingtown Rampage took on the second place Scottdale Inferno in two separate sets of games.
Going into the 4 games, only four points separated both teams. The Rampage brought their undefeated 14-0 record on the road to Hot Shots Sports Arena, home of the Inferno. The Inferno themselves brought an impressive 14-2 record.
Both teams certainly did not disappoint the Hot Shots crowd with some amazing fast pace hockey that saw 3 of the 4 games go into overtime!
Game one started off with both teams trying to get their legs going and gain the early momentum for the series. The Inferno took the first lead of the night with a first period goal by Nick Pilotti whose wrist shot found the back of the net. The Rampage would get on the board in the second period while on the power play, when Matt Helhake’s slap shot from the point would tie the game. The game would go back and forth with end to end action and outstanding goaltending by the Rampage’s Alex Kozik and the Inferno’s John Rethage. Neither team could score in Regulation or in the first two sessions of overtime. In the second round of the shootout, Pete Psyrris would score for the Rampage to secure the victory.
Final Score: Rampage 2, Inferno 1 SO
Game two would be another close game between these two teams. The Inferno would find themselves up by a goal in the first period with goals by Sam Bejster and Dave Kimmick. The Rampage’s Nico Christino would keep the game within one at the half. The second half would start off with a power play goal by Logan Davis to give the Inferno a two goal lead. Nico Christino would make things interesting when he intercepted a pass and scored his second goal of the game, bringing the Rampage back within a goal of the Inferno. After a timeout to rest their team, the Rampage came out flying to try to tie the game up. The Inferno’s goaltender, Ray Reinheimer, who had an outstanding game, held his ground in net with a late barrage from the Rampage. With 45 seconds left in the game, the Inferno’s Matt Cole intercepted a pass and found a streaking Nick Pilotti down the rink for a breakaway goal to secure the regulation win for the Inferno.
Final Score: Inferno 4, Rampage 2
After an hour break the two teams took the court to start their next set of games. Game three would be a demonstration of great goaltending from the Inferno’s Rethage and the Rampage’s Kozik as both teams found themselves tied in a 0-0 tie at the half. The strong defense would continue for both teams until Nico Christino broke the deadlock just under 4 minutes left in regulation. With their backs up against the wall, the Inferno picked up their tempo late in the game and with 30 seconds left, Dave Kimmick took a pass from Pilotti and deposited it into the net to tie the game up and send another game into overtime. The Rampage started out the overtime with good puck movement and puck control as Matt Helhake found Phil Leroux who found the twine for the OT winner.
Final Score: Rampage 2, Inferno 1 OT
The finale of the night was once again another hard fought back and forth game. The Inferno jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals coming from Dave Kimmick and Matt Cole, but the Rampage’s Nico Christino scored a last minute goal to bring them within one at the half. Christino struck again in the early part of the second to tie the game up. The game continued to go back and forth for the rest of the period with the Inferno getting goals from Artie Leddon and Nate Guzewicz. The Rampage got goals from Blake Lowery and Christino’s Hat Trick goal to send it to overtime once again. Late in the overtime frame, the Rampage’s Matt Helhake struck to win the game.
Final Score: Rampage 5, Inferno 4 OT
Even though the Inferno received points in each of the games against the Rampage, they still remain behind them in the standings. The Inferno went on to help themselves with victories over the Pottstown Team Blue the following day, to keep the pressure on for the battle of first place in the Appalachian’s Minor Division.
In the Pro Division, the Scottsdale Inferno tightened their stranglehold on the Appalachian Division with four wins over Pottstown Team Blue this weekend.
Shane Davis kicked off the weekend for Scottsdale by opening game one with a pair of goals just 40 seconds apart. Matt Gerger added a tally at the end of the first period before Pottstown challenged. Nate Crammer and Chris Lerch netted goals in the opening minutes of the second frame to pull within one. Davis sealed the game with his hat trick goal and Shane Guzewicz added two for insurance though.
Final Score: Inferno 6, Team Blue 3
Game two was deja vu for Team Blue. Scottsdale opened with the first three goals of the contest – this time off the sticks of Guzewicz, Nate Gerger and CJ King. But, once again, Pottstown mounted a surge at the beginning of the second period. Lerch and Simon Lock rung up John Rethage for the pair before the Inferno goalie shut the gate as Nate Gerger and Kyle Rosendale ended any chance of a comeback by extending the Scottsdale lead to 5-2.
Final Score: Inferno 5, Team Blue 2
The third game of the series would not be as close. Rosendale, Matt Gerger, Matt Wojak and Blake Guzewicz all posted multiple goals as the Inferno cruised to victory. Nate Gerger and Wojak led the way with five point games while Rethage allowed just one goal to notch his second win of the weekend.
Final Score: Inferno 11, Team Blue 1
Again leading the way in game four was Rosendale. The league’s sixth leading goal getter scored six times en route to a 10-1 Inferno win.
Final Score: 10, Team Blue 1
Scottsdale’s Pro team now boasts a 14 point lead over second place Harrisburg in the Appalachian Division. A plus-60 goal differential has the Inferno tied with the Long Island Snipers for tops in the PIHA. The teams battled to a split record in their head to head matchups and are the two favorites to land the top seed in the Eastern Conference.