Last Updated: Tue Feb 28, 2023 - 2:47PM
Alex Thomas scored a hat trick, including the spectacular winning goal with just 2:32 left, to propel Norwin to a 6-5 victory against West Allegheny in the PIHL Class A Play-In Round at the Palmer Imaging Arena in Delmont. The Knights, seeded third from the Blue Division, improved to 16-4-1, and advance to the quarterfinals to face McDowell, the No. 2 seed from the Gold Division.
Upset-minded West Allegheny, the sixth seed from the Gold, scored the first two goals of the contest on Monday, both courtesy of Logan Balint.
The Knights quickly shifted momentum in their favor in the second period, though, tallying five unanswered goals. Joe Vecchio got Norwin on the board, and Thomas followed with his first of the night on the power play to deadlock the score. Thomas scored again less than three minutes later to stake the Knights to their first lead. Logan Robb extended the advantage, and Vecchio scored again, this time shorthanded, to push Norwin’s edge to 5-2 at the intermission.
The Indians chipped away at the deficit in the third frame, though, as Luke Gyergyo and Noah Figley tallied to make it a one-score contest with 10:42 remaining in regulation. West Allegheny notched the equalizer with 5:33 left, as John Wineland found the back of the net just seconds after the Indians killed off a Norwin power play.
Thomas provided the heroics, though, as he netted the winner by weaving past a West Allegheny defender, and then tucking a shot between the pads of Indians netminder Reilly Lada. Despite West Allegheny pulling their goalie in the closing moments, the Knights held on for the victory.
With three more goals and two assists, Thomas increased his league-leading totals to 41 goals and 75 points. Vecchio and Robb also notched multi-point efforts, while Dominick Costantino, Dom Cerilli, and Parker Toth added helpers. Owen Burmeister secured the victory in net, making 12 saves.
Balint led the Indians with two goals and an assist, while Gyergyo and Wineland each compiled a pair of points. Lada made 21 saves in the defeat.
Norwin’s quarterfinals matchup against McDowell will take place at the Erie Bank Arena on March 7 at 6:30, a rematch of last year’s Penguins Cup Championship in which Norwin prevailed.