Varsity ice hockey pushes towards PIHL Championship

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An unpredictable season for the Seneca Valley Raiders’ varsity ice hockey team has resulted in a trip to Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Varsity AAA Semifinals.

With contributions coming all across the board, the balanced attack of the Raiders has, yet again, equipped them for another run at bringing a title to the school.

Seniors Hunter Mueller (defenseman), Giovanni Sarachine (forward) and Noah Watkiss (forward) record three of the top five point totals on the team. Mueller and Sarachine recorded double digits with 16 and 14 points, respectively, while Watkiss was not too far behind with nine.

However, other players at varying levels have played vital roles in the success of the team. Michael Spokane, a sophomore forward, finished the campaign with ten goals and four assists, while junior forward Ty Draper notched six of both goals and assists.

In terms of unpredictability and inconsistency, the Raiders epitomized those two categories during the regular season.

They did win in contests such as the division-champion Peters Township Indians, who finished with a 14-4 win-loss record and a +29 goal differential.

However, they suffered hiccups against Bethel Park, who finished with a 7-11 record, in addition to dropping a contest against the Plum Mustangs in a rather embarrassing fashion. Seneca Valley outshot Plum 28-16, but Plum, who also finished 7-11 with a -39 goal differential, won the game by a score of 4-1.

By the time the end of the regular season rolled around, the Raiders had accumulated 24 points at a record of 12-6. They finished second in the division, and were slated to rematch Bethel Park in a home contest in the quarterfinals of the PIHL AAA Playoffs.

In their quarterfinal match-up, Bethel Park jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period. However, led by a three-goal surge in the second period and an empty-net goal by Draper, Seneca won the game by a score of 4-1.

The team is still awaiting their semifinal opponent, but what is known is that the team sits just two wins away from capturing a championship.

Seneca Valley, who will have ten days in between games, are not scheduled to play again until March 15. The game is set to take place at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center on Neville Island, and will begin at approximately 9:15 PM.

In a year filled with ups and downs, head-scratching moments, and building opportunities, the Raiders could be building their momentum at the most opportune time, as a title for the school sits just two games away.

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