Pittsburgh hosted Toledo in a best of three East Division semifinal that began Friday night at the Alpha Ice Complex in Harmar, Pa. The two teams battled to a scoreless first period in which Toledo would hold the shot advantage at 10-8. The Cherokee would break the scoreless battle with a goal midway thru the second period and carry a 1-0 lead into the third. The game would remain scoreless when with under 4 minutes to play Gavin Cummings would tie at 1-1 with assists going to Kenny White and Austin Martz. This would set up a sudden death overtime where the team that scores first goes home the winner. Nick Lyon would bang home the game winner on a rebound from a Cummings shot to send the Vengeance fans home happy with a 2-1 victory. Joel De Simone would stop 32 out of 33 shots in net for the Pittsburgh victory. “We started slow but De Simone kept us in it and we turned it up a notch at the end for the victory,” said Coach Dorsey.
Pittsburgh traveled Toledo on Saturday night to take on a Cherokee team looking to fight off elimination. The Cherokee would come out flying early and they would take a 1-0 lead after one period of play on a late short handed goal. Toledo would open up a 2-0 lead midway thru the second period on another short handed goal. Pittsburgh would outshoot Toledo 10-8 in the third period but could not get anything by their goalie to force a game three back in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Joel De Simone would stop 33 out of 35 in the net for Pittsburgh in defeat. “We play undisciplined hockey with poor puck management and Toledo took advantage of that,” said Coach Dorsey. “These are two evenly matched teams and every little mistake is magnified.”
Pittsburgh returned to the Alpha Ice Complex on Sunday to host the Cherokee for the third and final game of the series. Pittsburgh and Toledo would battle to a scoreless first period with the shots favoring Pittsburgh 16-13. Reid Miller would break the scoreless tie to put Pittsburgh up 1-0 with assists going to Justin Shepherd and Cam Smith. James Unger would add a late goal to put Pittsburgh up 2-0 after two periods with an assist going to Gavin Cummings. The Vengeance would strike early in the third for a 3-0 lead on a Vincent Casale goal with assists going to Dom Glavach and Anthony Szurlej. Goaltender, Joel De Simone would preserve the 3-0 victory by stopping all 34 Toledo shots he faced. “Great team effort today and I believe our depth up front really paid off for us in this series,” said Coach Dorsey.
Pittsburgh will take on the East Division regular season champion the Metro Jets in the East Final. The Jets finished the regular season 47-0 and defeated the West Michigan Wolves in three games to advance. The teams will play Friday night at Alpha Ice Complex with a 7:00pm puck drop before heading to Fraser, MI for games two and three.
“This is going to be our toughest test yet because Metro is the standard in the NA3HL,” said Coach Dorsey.