Live Friday WPIAL semifinal blog - West Allegheny beats Thomas Jefferson, 41-7

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from WPIAL Class AAA semifinal between Thomas Jefferson and West Allegheny. For score updates and notes from other semifinals look to the right of this blog for @PGVarsityXtra's Twitter account. If you have a score update, note of photo, tweet with #wpial.


More later

How about this one: Neshannock is now beating Clairton, 28-26. Wait. Clairton comes right back and takes 34-28 lead.


Neshannock giving Clairton a game. 26-22 Clairton ahead.

Central Catholic offense clicking tonight. Now leading Penn-Trafford, 35-20


Thomas Jefferson gets on scoreboard. Jacob Stein returns second-half kickoff 96 yards for TD. Mercy rule still in effect.


Mercy rule in second half.


Never have seen this from a TJ team. Jaguars can't tackle. Four TDs in past five plays for West A. 25-yard TD run by Terrence Stephens. If this stays, it will be mercy rule in second half. 

8:22 West Allegheny has scored touchdowns on three of its past four plays. Wow.


Can TJ stop the avalanche? Whitney White 65-yard touchdown run. 5:54 left in half.

McKeesport gets on board. Now trails Pine-Richland, 14-7.

Washington trailing Aliquippa by only 16-12. TD by Spina for Wash  High


This is jaw-dropping. Two plays 57 yards and Chayse Dillon scores on 55-yard run. With what's happening here, it makes you wonder what the competition was like in that Big Nine?

8:04 TJ goes three and out again. TJ has only one first down early in second quarter. Thomas Jefferson has virtually no passing game. It will be extremely difficult for Jaguars to come back. You don't see any long drives coming and they can't stop West A. Punt return jump started West A.


Six-play, 50-yard drive and Chayse Dillon caps with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Central Valley putting it to Ringgold, 14-0. Not a surprise there.

7:54 Great fourth-down stand by WA defense at midfield. TJ coach Bill Cherpak went for it on fourth and 2. WA now driving.

South Fayette 7, Seton-LaSalle 0


First play after kickoff TJ fumbles and Whitney White recovers. West Allegheny goes 39 yards in five plays. TD run of 5 yards by Terence Stephens. Opsatnik kick. 13-0

Pine-Richland scores first possession. DiNucci 7 of 7


Big play on special teams!! Great punt return by Tyler Amedure takes punt and goes 65 yards for TD. Broke three tackles. Looked to be stopped at midfield, broke loose and went down the sideline. PAT failed, though. 

Avonworth jumps to 7-0 lead on North Catholic. Hughley TD.

7:36 Three and out for West A.

7:31 West Allegheny receives. No Andrew Koester at QB. West Allegheny in wildcat.

7:26 Game time in a few minutes. Certainly not good crowd again. Attendance has been down all throughout the playoffs. You can't blame weather that much. Heck, it has been cold a number of years for the semifinals and attendance wasn't like this. I can't give you a reason.


Another cold, cold night. Regular season was filled with great Friday nights, but the weather for the playoffs has been bad and it has greatly affected attendance. Wonder what the crowd will be like here at Bethel Park? Half hour before the game and there might be 100 people here.

Will be interesting to see how much West Allegheny uses the wildcat formation. The Indians used it a lot last week. Most of the year they had been going out of a pro site.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

About the Maple Leafs - 11-14-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Maple Leafs.

When and where: 7:30 p.m., EST, Air Canada Centre.

TV: Root Sports, TSN4, TVA.

Record: 9-5-2, 20 points. The Maple Leafs are in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Leading Scorer: Phil Kessel (right), 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists).

Last Game: 6-1 home win against the Bruins, Wednesday. Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk each had a goal and two assists for the Maple Leafs.

Last Game against the Penguins: 5-2 home loss, Oct. 11. Jonathan Bernier made 36 saves for the Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: van Riemsdyk. He has a six-game scoring streak.

Ex-Penguins on the Maple Leafs: Randy Carlyle, head coach; Trevor Smith, center.

Ex-Maple Leafs on the Penguins: Tom Fitzgerald, assistant general manager, Jim Rutherford, general manager.

Useless Maple Leafs Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Carlyle is one of three people to win the Norris Trophy and Stanley Cup as a head coach. The others are Tom Johnson and Larry Robinson.

The last time the Penguins played the Maple Leafs, this happened:

Probable goaltenders: Thomas Greiss (1-0-1, 2.42 GAA, .923 SV%) for the Penguins. Jonathan Bernier (5-3-2, 2.57 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Maple Leafs.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Olli Maatta (neck) is out. For the Maple Leafs, left wingers David Booth (broken right foot), Joffrey Lupul (broken right hand) and right winger Brandon Kozan (high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve.

-Potential lines and defensive pairings: According to the team's Web site, the Penguins' primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 9 Pascal Dupuis
13 Nick Spaling  -  - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 72 Patric Hornqvist
19 Beau Bennett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
  17 Blake Comeau/38 Zach Sill - 57 Marcel Goc - 27 Craig Adams

58 Kris Letang - 7 Paul Martin
  10 Christian Ehrhoff - 41 Robert Bortuzzo
47 Simon Despres - 4 Rob Scuderi

-The Maple Leafs expected lines and defensive pairings are:

21 James van Riemsdyk - 42 Tyler Bozak - 81 Phil Kessel
26 Daniel Winnik - 43 Nazem Kadri - 71 David Clarkson
47 Leo Komarov - 24 Peter Holland - 25 Mike Santorelli
18 Richard Panik - 23 Trevor Smith - 32 Josh Leivo

3 Dion Phaneuf - 4 Cody Franson
51 Jake Gardiner - 46 Roman Polak
12 Stephane Robidas - 44 Morgan Rielly



-Malkin won't be the first one-time Penguins center to skate with Hornqvist and Spaling on his wings.

-Adams is expected to appear in his 303rd consecutive game and will surpass former center Jordan Staal for the second-longest consecutive games streak in franchise history. Only former center Ron Schock (313 games) has a longer streak.

-Despres has appeared in 99 career games.

-Adams has 99 career assists.

-Comeau has 97 career assists.

-Bozak has 198 career points.

-Robidas has 198 career assists.

-The referees are Brad Watson (No. 23) and Dan O'Halloran (No. 13). The linesmen are Shane Heyer (No. 55) and Jay Sharrers (No. 57).

-This will be the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game which is part of this weekend's induction ceremonies for the newest members of the Hall. Prior to the game, Rob Blake, Pat Burns, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, Bill McCreary and Mike Modano will be honored.

-Our live blog begins at approximately 7:15 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)



Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Hornqvist, Spaling familiar as linemates - 11-14-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

At today's morning skate, the Penguins used some reconfigured lines. Of particular interest was the second line. According to the team's Web site. Evgeni Malkin appears set to center Nick Spaling on the left wing and Patric Hornqvist on the right wing.

Both players were acquired from the Predators in exchange for Malkin's former right wing, James Neal. And as it turns out, this won't be the first time a player with ties to the Penguins has been their center.

Earlier this season, both players talked about their history as linemates:

Hornqvist - "Actually, it started in the minors seven years ago [with Milwaukee of the AHL). It was me, [former Penguins center] Cal O'Reilly, who was here for a bit too, and Spaling. It's been on an off since then. Obviously, he's a good linemate to play with. He always works hard, battles down low and is good to find pucks. And really around the net."

Spaling - "I've played with him and I've watch him play for four our five years. I know exactly kind of what he does. He's an easy guy to play with because you know he's going to be at the net. You know what he's going to do. You know he's going to shoot. I know his style of play. For me, it's comfortable. I know what he brings to the table and I think that helps.

(Photo: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

WPIAL semifinal predictions ..... TV games

Written by Mike White on .

Varsity Blog program note: Tonight's live semifinal blog will come from the West Allegheny vs. Thomas Jefferson game. For score updates and notes from other games, follow the @PGVarsityXtra Twitter account to the right of this blog. If you have a score update, note or photo, "tweet" it with #wpial.

Before we get to the WPIAL semifinal predictions, one note about TV games tonight. Root Sports will televise the Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny game, to be shown on delay, following tonight's Penguins game.

Xfinity Comcast television is doing the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth game, which can be seen "On Demand" starting tomorrow night.

Now, for the semifinal predictions, plus one PIAA game involving City League champion Brashear. 


Pine-Richland vs. McKeesport - I don't think there is any doubt that Pine-Richland's offense with quarterback Ben DiNucci (pictured) and his strong offensive line will move and score points. The biggest question is whether McKeesport's flexbone offense is good enough to keep pace with the Rams? I say no. Winner: Pine-Richland.

Central Catholic vs. Penn-Trafford - Penn-Trafford's offense is much more balanced than Central Catholic. But will that matter? I really like Penn-Trafford and this game is awfully interesting. Line play will be the key. I took Central Catholic at the start of the playoffs. Winner: Central Catholic.


Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny - A classic matchup between perennial powers. Do you think there has ever been a game with 11 WPIAL titles between the two coaches (Bob Palko with seven and Bill Cherpak with four)? Well, actually yes. West Allegheny played Woodland Hills this year and there were 13 between Palko and George Novak. It will be interesting to see if West Allegheny uses the wildcat offense tonight, like it did often last week. Run defense will be key for both teams. Winner: West Allegheny.

Central Valley vs. Ringgold - It has been 27 years since Ringgold has been in the semifinals. Standout running back Chacar Berry was slowed by a bad ankle last week. The Rams need him at full strength. But even so ... Winner: Central Valley.


Washington vs. Aliquippa - Aliquippa would be the favorite even if Washington was at full strength. But some injuries to key players could spell trouble to Washington. Winner: Aliquippa (fixed error from earlier this afternoon).

South Fayette vs. Seton-LaSalle - Seton-LaSalle's best player, Danzel McKinley-Lewis (pictured) did not play the first time the teams met. No doubt he will make a difference. But will he make THAT much of a difference? South Fayette won the first time, 41-14. Winner: South Fayette.


Clairton vs. Neshannock - There is no question that Neshannock will give Clairton its best game of the season. But it's hard to see Neshannock giving Clairton its first loss of the season. Winner: Clairton (fixed error from this afternoon).

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth - When CWNC beat Avonworth, 28-0, earlier this season, the game was scoreless at halftime. This one might be close the whole way, but the same team will come out on top. Winner: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.


Erie McDowell vs. Brashear - City League champion Brashear goes on the road to play McDowell in Erie Saturday afternoon. Brashear has had a week off since winning the City League championship. Terrific job by coach Rick Murphy in getting his team to peak at the right time and knock off No. 1 Allderdice. This isn't a great McDowell team, but still a level above Brashear. Winner: McDowell. 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Empty Netter Assists - 11-14-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Welcome back Pascal Dupuis ... to the first line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

-Welcome back Olli Maatta ... to the lineup next week?

-“The start of the game, I think it’s important to put teams off-balance with shots." - Penguins coach Mike Johnston on wanting his team to shoot more often.

-“I’m sure he’s got a target on his back. It’s not easy sometimes. It’s one of those flukey things. But no matter how many times you’ve done it, even if you talk to guys who have fought for years, anything can happen in a fight and you really do have to be careful.” - Crosby on Erie Otters star forward Connor McDavid suffering a broken hand in a fight Tuesday. McDavid is presumed to be the top overall pick in next year's draft.

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Maatta speaks:

-Welcome back Jeff Zatkoff ... to the Wilkes-Barre/Scanton Penguins' lineup after missing nine games due to a "lower-body" injury.

-Happy 45th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Greg Andrusak. A fifth-round pick in 1988, Andrusak spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1993-94, he saw action in three games and failed to record a point. During the 1994-95 campaign, Andrusak played in seven games and recorded four assists. In 1995-96, Andrusak only appeared in two games and didn't net a point. After spending all of 1996-97 with EHC Eisbaren Berlin in Germany, he returned to the Penguins in 1998-99. That season saw him play in seven games and record one assist. He did appear in 12 postseason games that spring and scored one goal. In the 1999 offseason, he joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent. In 19 regular season games with the Penguins, Andrusak recorded five assists.

-Happy 72nd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Bryan "Bugsy" Watson (right). Acquired midway through the 1968-69 season along with George Swarbrick and Tracy Pratt in a deal which sent for Earl Ingarfield, Gene Ubriaco and Dick Mattiussi to the Oakland Seals, Watson spent parts of six seasons with the Penguins. he finished 1968-69 by appearing in 18 games for the Penguins and recording four assists as well as 35 penalty minutes. His first full season in Penguins was 1969-70. He played in 61 games, netted 10 points and led the team with 189 penalty minutes. He played in all 10 of the team's postseason games but failed to record a point. Watson was limited to 43 games, eight points and 119 penalty minutes in 1970-71. He rebounded in 1971-72 by setting career highs in games (75), points (20) and led the league with 212 penalty minutes. He played in four postseason games that spring but failed to record a point. In 1972-73, Watson saw action in 69 games, scored 18 points and once again led the team with 179 penalty minutes. After 38 games, five assists and 137 penalty minutes in 1973-74, Watson was traded to the Blues along with Greg Polis and a draft pick in exchange for Steve Durbano, Ab DeMarco Jr. and Bob Kelly. In 304 regular season games with the Penguins, Watson scored 65 points and accumulated 871 penalty minutes, fourth-most in franchise history. In 14 postseason games, Watson did not score a point. At one time, Watson was the NHL's all-time leader in penalty minutes.

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins forward Ed Patterson. A seventh-round pick in 1991, Patterson spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1993-94, Patterson played in 27 games and scored four points.  In 1994-95, Patterson saw action in 35 games and recorded two assists. His final NHL season was 1996-97 and he was limited to six games and no points. He was released in the 1997 offseason. In 68 regular season games with the Penguins, Patterson scored six points.

-After the Jump: Kari Lehtonen comes up with the save of the year.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.