Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Greensburg Central Still Streaking

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Greensburg Central Still Streaking

Article excerpt

It has been said that the Class AA PIHL playoffs will be a wide- open affair, with perhaps nearly half of the 15 teams considered legitimate contenders to win the Penguin Cup.

Greensburg Central Catholic hasn't raised "Lord Mario's Cup" since winning the state championship in 1996 under head coach Butch Marietta. But it figures to be a contender -- despite its fifth-to seventh-place seeding -- because of its play in recent times.

The Centurions go into the postseason on a five-game winning streak, including a dramatic, 4-3 triumph against fellow contender West Allegheny two weeks ago. They've won their past three games by shutout. And with 136 goals scored on the season, only the Indians have scored more goals in Class AA this year.

"You look at our record and we had six losses, but four have come by one goal," said third-year head coach Joe Dytka, whose overall record was 15-6-1 this season. "We have good leadership with seven seniors . . . This team has grown."

While it's true GCC's recent defensive outburst has come against some of the weaker teams in the PIHL, it has kept opponents' shots on goal down for the most part.

Dytka credits this to his team's mixture of youth and experience. For instance, the Centurions' top blue-liner has been senior Doug Francken, a skilled player who is a frequent contributor on special- teams units. It's easy to pick out his 12 goals and 14 assists on the stat sheet, but his coach prefers to look at another stat; his impressive +39 plus/minus rating.

He's often paired with either freshman Dan Siejk or senior Brad Chew, with junior Shane Purvis heading up the second unit.

"It's a good combination because Doug likes to skate the puck up, but you can always rely on Dan or Brad to stay back," Dytka said.

The forward lines are also deep enough that Dytka can mix and match the skill players with muckers and grinders if he chooses. …

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