Vengeance Stay Hot, Sweep Cherokee

The Vengeance traveled to Toledo this weekend, beating the Cherokee 5-0 and 5-2. Pittsburgh has now won 9 consecutive games.

Justin Shepherd opened the scoring Friday night, depositing a rebound after a flurry in front of Cherokee netminder Ricardo Gonzalez 11:52 into the opening frame. Pittsburgh carried the 1-0 lead into the middle period. Toledo found themselves in penalty trouble, and the Vengeance capitalized with three powerplay goals. Justin Bioni netted his 4th of the season after a beautiful cross ice pass by Jacob Friedman 1:24 into the period. Dom Glavach added his team best 17th of the year, a seeing eye shot from the point. Less than a minute later Simon Soderberg added to the lead, finishing off another Friedman pass with a backdoor one timer.

The Vengeance carried the 4-0 lead into the 3rd, and the teams played a very uneventful final frame. Marks Mezsargs added his 2nd goal of the season with just over 30 seconds remaining to give Pittsburgh their 5 goal cushion.  Jacob Zab stopped 8 Cherokee shots in the closing period, totaling 37 saves for his 2nd win of the season and first junior hockey shutout.

The teams took to the ice once again Saturday night. Pittsburgh continued their momentum from the previous evening, outshooting the Cherokee 12-5 in the opening frame. The lone goal was scored with under 3 minutes remaining, as Nate Schwartz redirected a point shot from U18 callup Jeremy Jenkins. The tally was Schwartz's 9th of the year, and Jenkins's first point at the junior level.

The Pittsburgh powerplay stayed hot, and Simon Soderberg netted a shot from the top of the umbrella to give the Vengeance a 2-0 lead midway through the game. The Cherokee finally managed to put one on the board with under a minute left in the period, as Blake Mullins took advantage of traffic in front of goalie Caden Shell to draw Toledo back to within one goal heading into the third.

The Vengeance answered the call early, with Austin Martz setting up camp and deflecting a Chris Sturny point shot past Gonzalez 2:49 into the period.  A sloppy Toledo line change allowed Ben Oslick to find Schwartz with a 100 foot stretch pass, and Schwartz was able to use the latecoming defender as a screen to extend the Vengeance lead to 4-1 just over two minutes later. The Cherokee responded shortly after as EJ Gilbert snapped a shot past Shell, inspiring a disproportionate amount of chirping from a broadcast team still down by two goals late in the contest. Zach Servidio added some insurance late in the period with his second goal of the season and Shell stood tall the rest of the way, stopping 23 of 25 Cherokee tries in the 5-2 win.

The boys have a busy weekend ahead of them, starting by traveling to Jamestown for a Friday night tango with the Southern Tier Xpress. The teams will both travel to Pittsburgh for a rematch Saturday night at 6:30 at the Alpha Ice Complex, and the Vengeance will host the Wooster Oilers Sunday at 11:40.

The Vengeance have outscored opponents 36-13 during their 9-game win streak. They have not trailed since the 11:06 mark of the 3rd period in their game against Toledo on October 14.