The Pennsylvania Interschol-astic Hockey League playoff schedule says Meadville is facing a fourth seed in Peters Township. But the Indians (15-3-3) could just as well be the top seed, Meadville coach Jamie Plunkett said. The Bulldogs face the Indians at 6:50 p.m. today at Iceoplex at Southpointe in Canonsburg, just south of Pittsburgh. Peters Township, West Allegheny and Bishop Canevin were all tied for the second seed for the Class AA playoffs at the end of the year, but the Indians lost the league tie-breaker and slipped to the fourth seed. The league had an unbalanced schedule this year and Peters Township played PIHLplayoff top seed Greater Latrobe three times, going 1-1-1 against the Wildcats. “They are a really talented hockey team,” Plunkett said. “We know they put a lot of pressure on you.” Peters Township was third in the league with 123 goals, led by Matthew White’s 26 goals in 20 league games. White averaged 2.75 points per game and was the leading scorer in Class AA. The second-leading scorer is Matthew Lison, with 18 goals. Lison missed the game with Meadville on Nov. 25. The line with White, Kevin Hough and Andrew Rubeo might be the best line in the league, Plunkett said. Rebeo scored twice in the teams’ 4-4 tie at DeArment Ice Arena on Nov. 25. While the offense is productive, Plunkett said the team has talented, offensive-minded defensemen that keeps the puck moving. “They might not always get an assist,” Plunkett said. “I’m impressed with their defensemen. Often they start the rush with a pass deep in their own end. They do such a good job of finding the open man and moving the puck.” Meadville’s Taylor Nickerson will get the start in goal for the Bulldogs, Plunkett said. The senior is 11-5-3 in PIHL games this season. He has a 2.42 goals against and a .894 save percentage. Meadville was fourth in the league in goals allowed (49), while Peters was fifth (55). In front of Nickerson, Plunkett said the top two lines will be a combination of Drew Finton, Bill Espy, Dean Wisinski, Clayton Stockton, Brandon Bizzarro and Mike Nicolazzo. “Finton has played well. He has been our most consistent player all season long. Espy has tremondous skating ability. He can create so many chances. He just outskate so many kids,” Plunkett said. “Stockton has the ability to make plays. In the playoffs, your best players have to be just that. Dean Wisinski ... those kids have to get involved, if we are going to have success.” Espy (18), Finton (16) and Stockton (15) lead the Bulldogs’ offensive attack. Stockton leads the team with 13 assists and speedy forward Dean Wisinski is second with 12 helpers. “We need two lines that can match up with their lines,” Plunkett said. “And then hope we can get into a rotation where our third line matches their third line.” The third line will be freshman Cade Nickerson (center), Jarrod Kilburn (left wing) and Connor Lang (right wing). The defense pairings will be Chris Heaney and Rob Macielak and Chris Allegretti and Matt Orr, Plunkett said. He added sophomores Austin Scott and Kassel Weber could see some shifts as well. Both teams should be rested. Meadville has not played since March 3, when they beat Elizabeth-Forward 10-1. Peters Township’s last league game was March 1, a 13-3 win over Greensburg Central Catholic. “That would just be an excuse. Both teams have the same layoff,” Plunkett said. “If you can’t get ready to play at this time of year, you don’t belong in the playoffs. “This time allowed us to work on some things.” The up-and-down Bulldogs have won four of their last five. They had a season-best, six-game win streak earlier this season, but also had a five-game winless skid and a stretch where they won just three times in 10 games. Dominick DiRienzo can be reached at 724-6370, ext. 274 or by e-mail at ddirienzo@meadvilletribune.com.

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