Sabilla, Colts Gallop Past Plum, 11-3
By Joe Sager, PIHL Network
MT. LEBANON – Apparently, some rest is exactly what the Colts needed.
Chartiers Valley, playing in its first game in two weeks, scored early and often as the Colts stampeded past Plum, 11-3, Thursday night at the Mt. Lebanon Ice Arena.
Coach Lou Biancanello was pleased to see his Colts (9-4) get off to a quick start, especially against the Mustangs (6-6).
“We’ve been off the last two weeks as well,” he said. “Our last game, we jumped out on Latrobe a little bit and then kind of faded as the game went on and we got out of our game plan. We really stressed to go out there right away and play the right way from the start.
“Plum gave Canevin a battle and played really tough against them last game. I expected the same coming out here. Their goalie is really good and I expected a tough one,” he continued. “But, Justin (Sabilla) came right out and scored a huge goal for us right away and we got another right after that and we were kind of rolling then. We were able to keep building on that momentum. This is a game that we really needed because of the little slump we had been in. We needed to come out and have a good game like this against a good opponent.”
Sabilla set the tone early for Chartiers Valley. He broke in alone on goaltender Taylor Cestra and flipped a backhander into the net for a 1-0 lead just 2:00 into the game. Sabilla didn’t stop there, either. He completed a hat trick in the first period as the Colts posted a 5-0 lead. All told, he finished with six goals.
“I was surprised. I didn’t think it’d be like that. We just scored early and kept going,” Sabilla said. “I had the touch today. I scored on my first shift, so I figured I’d shoot a lot more and they just went in. We played the same way the whole game, both defensively and offensively, so that was really nice. It showed on the scoreboard. We’d lost a bunch of our past games. We came into this game knowing we had to win because they are close to us in the standings. We came out and won and we have two big ones next week – Canevin and Erie (Cathedral Prep).”
Sabilla’s seven-point night (he added an assist) vaulted him to the top of the PIHL Class AA scoring race with Canvein’s Matt Walsh. Both players have 48 points. In addition, Sabilla’s 35 goals were tops among PIHL Class AAA, AA and A scorers.
“It’s nice. He can really contribute to the team and he’s one of the top scorers in the league,” Colts goaltender Noah Stevenson said. “Having him on our team just really benefits us a lot.”
Stevenson was not tested regularly, but came through with a handful of big saves, including a highlight-reel glove snag in the second period. He stopped four of the five shots he faced before yielding to Alex Chabala to start the third period.
“It’s a little hard when you’re not facing a lot of shots, but you always have to be ready. You have to keep moving and keep ready,” Stevenson said. “We wanted to get a good lead and jump on them in the first period. Usually, we’re one of those teams that kind of waits until the third period. But, we knew had to get out here and get on them quickly. We knew that Plum was right behind us in the standings. We really need to get it moving and get these last games.”
Kevin Prince’s first two goals combined with Sabilla’s first three gave Chartiers Valley a 5-0 lead after the first. Evegeny Koptsov scored two times in the second, while Kevin Kocak and Sabilla both found the back of the net. Plum’s Andrew Walters scored the first of his three goals late in the period as the Colts posted a 9-1 edge.
Sabilla and Walters alternated goals in the final period as Chartiers Valley galloped to the win.
Biancanello appreciated the team’s all-around hustle as well as its offensive eruption.
“For about the past five games, our backchecking and defensive zone play hasn’t been what it should be. We focused on that for the past month,” he said. “I know we have offense; I know we can score goals, so that doesn’t concern me. But, we’ve been working on our defensive side of the game. The guys are a little embarrassed of where we are right now and they want to turn it up and do things the right way. They really came together. If we keep playing like this, I think we’re a really dangerous team.”