Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peters Pursues Another West Title Today

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peters Pursues Another West Title Today

Article excerpt

Despite being a two-time defending state champion, the Peters Township hockey team was supposed to struggle this season.

Players such as goalie Kyle Kittelberger and forward Mike Papciak, who had been so identifiable with the team, had graduated. Peters had 10 new varsity players and began the season by losing to South Park.

It appeared that after having what head coach Mark Cooper called "one of the greatest high school teams in Western Pennsylvania history" in 2003, the Indians were headed for a fall.

Not so fast.

Since that opening-day setback, the Indians have lost just one game. On Tuesday, they registered one of their trademark playoff blowouts, an 8-1 triumph against Kittanning.

At 3 p.m. today, they will play for their third straight Class AA Penguin Cup championship when they face Indiana at Mellon Arena.

"We pump everything up extra hard during practices," Cooper said, explaining how the Indians seem to find a higher gear at this time of year. "The kids before left a great legacy."

"No one knew how much depth we had under those superstars last year," said forward Gerry Raymond, who, along with senior Chris Clackson, registered a hat trick in the win against Kittanning, which put Peters in the Western Pennsylvania final for the third consecutive season.

Much has been said of Peters' outstanding offensive players -- Raymond, Clackson and defenseman Don Crogan, an adept skater and passer who finished second on the team in assists.

They've certainly come through of late on special-teams play. Clackson, for instance, took the puck off Nicholas Troup's broken stick at the blue line then skated through two zones to score a short-handed goal with 3:30 left in the first period Tuesday. That made the score 3-0, essentially breaking the backs of the Wildcats.

It was one of two short-handed goals the Indians scored in that game. They also had two power-play scores.

"We should be good [on special teams]," Cooper said. "We spent an hour and 45 minutes on them in practice!"

The Indians' defense, however, hasn't gotten much attention. It begins with the outstanding goaltending duo of junior Shane Frey and freshman Robert Madore. …

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