I know soccer semifinals are tonight, football brackets are released later, and PIAA tennis gets into full swing — sorry, couldn’t help it — in a few days.
But take a minute to check out our PIHL preview in today’s paper. Link: http://triblive.com/sports/hssports/hockey/4943569-74/forward-valley-class#axzz2izHONED5)
Bradford Thornburgh is the No. 1 returner on a North Allegheny squad that was smacked over the head by graduation, losing the top five point-producers from a team that won Penguins and Pennsylvania Cup titles.
I asked Thornburgh whether the perception that North Allegheny lost to remain in contention too much bugs the Tigers.
“It’s tough to hear stuff like that,” Thornburgh said. “That’s only coming from what people see on paper. A lot of people haven’t seen us play as a team yet.”
Thornburgh had an 11-4-1 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage during the regular season in 2012-13. Those numbers jumped to 3-0, 1.29 and .957 in the postseason.
If he’s to put up similarly sparkling numbers, he’ll have to do it against the best. Check out the first five games of NA’s schedule: at Canon-McMillan, at Peters Township, home against Pine-Richland, at Butler and at Bethel Park.
Canon-McMillan should be much-improved with J.D, Oddi, Austin Tonkovich and a new coach; Peters Township has reached three straight PIHL finals; Bethel Park is loaded and has scorer Chris Siak; Pine-Richland reached the PIHL Class AA championship game last season; and Butler, the league’s preseason darling, lost to Seneca Valley in the final of the St. Margaret Foundation Fall Faceoff tournament.
Thornburgh talked about his own responsibilities with being one of the few veterans for North Allegheny.
“I just have to do the best I can to control the game,” Thornburgh said. “I want to make sure I’m not putting them in any tough situations.”