Indiana took care of two orders of business Sunday evening: advancing in the Chiefs Cup playoffs and putting its perplexing regular-season-ending loss in the past.
The Indians defeated Ringgold, 6-1, in a PIHL Open Division Chiefs Cup quarterfinal game at S&T Bank Arena.
It was a game Indiana was expected to win, but it provided a fresh start after a 7-1 loss at Baldwin on Friday night.
“One (goal) was to put what happened Friday night behind us,” Indiana coach Dom Glavach said. “Playoffs are a different game. It’s a whole different attitude. You cut your path the whole way. What you did in the regular season just determines what color sweaters you get to wear. We really wanted to come out and put it to them very quickly. We did that for the most part.”
The loss to Baldwin dropped Indiana to the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Conference. With three particularly strong teams in the tournament, that means the Indians (18-1-1) get a tougher-than-usual semifinal matchup with Hempfield (18-3). That game will be Tuesday at Indiana, time TBA.
On Sunday, Indiana rode a strong all-around effort led by Camden Lydick’s five-point night, and the Indians put Ringgold (9-12) away with a four-goal second period.
“It feels pretty good for the playoffs,” said Lydick, who had a goal and four assists. “Being a senior, it feels good to get your team going. It was one of those nights where I was finding everyone with the puck and we were all clicking on all cylinders.”
The team’s second-leading scorer with 57 points, Lydick was paired with fellow speedsters Dominick Glavach and Luke Lewandowski. The lanky Jess Bartholow, who leads the Indians with 35 goals and 65 points in 20 games, was flanked by emerging underclassmen Matt Swatsworth and Ethan Boyer.
“That’s the second game we went with that pair,” the Indiana coach said.
“Basically, we’re telling teams you’ve got to choose between covering Bartholow or covering speed. If you choose one, somebody (else) is getting the better matchup. … It’s a nice little look going into playoffs that teams have to adjust for, because they haven’t seen it yet.”
“We have two lines that can go out there and score, whoever’s not matched up,” Lydick said. “It was different, but it worked out pretty well.”
Lewandowski scored the lone first-period goal. Dominick Glavach and Bartholow extended the lead to 3-0 in the second period, and Lewandowski and Jacob Miller re-established the lead at 5-1. Lydick scored in the third.
Senior Bo Anderson got the start in goal and stopped 22 shots.
“We came out here, (goalies) Zane (McElhenny), Keldon (Spicher) and I all stretched out, and right before the game when we were all in our meeting, Dom walks in and says, ‘Bo, you’re going.’” Anderson said.
“It was really who was hot,” Dom Glavach said. “We thought Bo was a little warmer coming into this game. Bo’s a larger stature, he fills more of the net, and his play lends itself more to a game like this.”
Indiana had a solid bounce-back on defense in particular.
“Everybody had that emotional connection to this game because of the Baldwin game,” Anderson said. “I’m only as good as my defense is. They kept it to easy shots that just came in and bounced off me. I saved the first one, and the rest of them just came after that.”
The No. 3 seed, Hempfield beat Carrick, 6-4, on Sunday. Indiana defeated the Spartans, 3-0, on the road last Sunday after scoring an 8-7 overtime victory in the teams’ first meeting, Dec. 19 in Indiana.
[PHOTO: Luke Lewandowski of Indiana. (James J. Nestor/Gazette photo)]
“They’re a good team,” Lydick said. “There’s no overlooking that, but if we go out and play nose-dirty hockey like we did tonight, we’ll be OK.”
Indiana played perhaps its best defense all season the week before at Hempfield, and McElhenny posted a shutout. He’ll start in net Tuesday.
“We’re going to use Zane on the teams that move pucks side to side and Bo for guys that take those long shots,” Dom Glavach said. “Tomorrow at practice, what we’re going to do is make sure we really focus on our own end.”
Eleven penalties were called in the third period Sunday, and the hostility carried over after the game.
An apparent fight involving Indiana parents and Ringgold coaches broke out in a crowded hallway outside the Rams’ locker room. State police arrived after the fight had been broken up.
Indiana’s players and coaches were still on the ice in their standard postgame huddle when the fracas happened.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened,” Dom Glavach said. “I was just trying to keep the Indiana players where they belonged and out of harm’s way.”