BY JONATHAN SKUZA
When it comes to playoff hockey, the hottest goalie wins.
Aden Brown of Pittsford (18-5-1) made 28 saves as he continued his strong string of post-season performances and guided the Panthers to a 4-2 victory over Orchard Park (VI) (16-5-2) in the NYSPHSAA Ice Hockey Division I regional round Saturday afternoon.
“Whenever with hockey, you gotta have a hot goalie,” Pittsford’s head coach Steve Thering stated about his goaltender’s performance. “The teams that are going deeper usually have a really strong back and they got really good goaltending and scoring support. He’s doing a great job. He’s just a sophomore but, he’s rising to the occasion.”
Brown has a 1.50 goals-against average since the start of the postseason for the Panthers. Brown has given up two goals in a game twice during Pittsford’s playoff run.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Panthers get outshot 14-5, Brady McMahon broke the scoreless tie early in the second period on the powerplay with assists from Will Masaschi and Lucas Procious. McMahon wristed a shot with a second left in the man advantage. The junior forward’s marker came on the only powerplay chance of the game for the Panthers.
The special teams for Pittsford were perfect on Saturday as the powerplay was 1-1 and the penalty kill was 4-4.
“Obviously you want to win the special teams battle whether it’s powerplay or penalty kill,” Thering stated about his special teams. “Our powerplay moves the puck really well. We had a bunch of chances before we scored that goal. We were fortunate enough to get that.”
25 seconds after Orchard Park tied the game, Henok Hankinson ripped a shot from just about the top of the faceoff circles to regain the lead for Pittsford with 6:15 remaining in the second. Colin Norton and Cole Mann set up Hankinson with the goal.
Masaschi got himself a goal after he weaved through some Quaker defenders to extend the Panther’s lead with 53 seconds to go in the middle frame.
Keegan Ahern went coast to coast in the third period to give Pittsford a three-goal lead with 11:11 to go. Keegan Garver and Logan Wood assisted on the impressive goal.
Tuesday’s contest saw a lot of physicality as many hockey fans see during the postseason. Pittsford has played a more physical style all season long and it has been one of the key reasons for its deep run.
“I think they rose to the occasion,” Thering said about his team’s physical play. “Orchard Park is very aggressive on the forecheck and very physical, they finish all their checks. We had to rise to the occasion. We couldn’t sit back and let them just continue to hit us, continue to win puck battles. We had to take it to them and initiate some ourselves in the first period.”
Frank Neeson scored the first goal for Orchard Park to tie the game at one in the second period with assists from Presley Schiliz and Chase Krtanjek. Schiliz scored the Quaker’s second goal with 8:44 remaining in the contest to cut the Pittsford lead to two. Krtanjek and Landon Kramer assisted on the tally.
The Pittsford Panthers will continue its quest for its first NYSPHSAA Ice Hockey Division I title as they will take on West Genesee from Section III on Saturday, March 11 at LECOM Harborcenter.
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