April 11, 1985
The reason for Mt. Lebanon’s 6-4 loss to Conestoga in the Class AAA state hockey final last Saturday at Warminster’s Face-Off Circle rink was simple, according to Lebos’ goaltender Hank Horn. “We just got beat by a better team,” Horn said. “I think we played real well and I think we tried our best, but they were better. There’s not much you can do when the other team’s better.” There wasn’t much the Lebos (14- 9-2) could do with Conestoga senior Scott Cowan. Cowan scored four goals, including three in the first period, to spur Conestoga (24-1). Phil Polomsky had two goals for Mt. Lebanon, while Mike Polomsky and Craig Maxwell scored once each. Conestoga held leads of 2-0 and 4- 2 in the first period, going up 5-2 early in the second period on a penalty shot by Chip Graham. Mt. Lebanon made it 5-4 by the end of the second period on goals by Phil Polomsky and Maxwell, but Cowan scored the third period’s lone goal to ice the Conestoga win. Mt. Lebanon Coach Bob Nascenzi thought Conestoga’s depth was the difference in the game. Conestoga skated seven forwards of equal caliber, while Mt. Lebanon used two lines with most of the offensive burden placed on the Polomskys and Maxwell. “You couldn’t tell one of their three lines from the other,” Nascenzi said. “They had depth and they were a very good skating team, very fast and very quick. Of course, Cowan was a pretty good player.” Oddly, Mt. Lebanon kept Conestoga’s first line, featuring high-scoring David Smink and Chris Cummings, totally off the scoreboard. Said Conestoga Coach John Titus, “We didn’t use a full three lines, more like seven forwards, but we also used five defensemen. I think we were a lot fresher at the end, and it showed in the third period. ” It sure did. After trailing by just one goal going into the third period, Mt. Lebanon could only muster five shots on goal in the final frame while Conestoga had 15. Conestoga outshot Mt. Lebanon on the game, 50-36. The game was a disappointing ending to a Cinderella playoff by Mt. Lebanon.
The Lebos finished third in the South Hills League’s Class AAA Division before rattling off three straight playoff wins, thanks to Horn’s clutch goaltending and the scoring of the Polomskys. Senior Horn finished the playoffs with a 2.75 goals-against average, making 141 saves in four games. Mike Polomsky had 10 playoff goals, while Phil Polomsky had seven. The sophomore twins accounted for 17 of Mt. Lebanon’s 20 state playoff goals. “I thought Horn was excellent,” Titus said.” I was very impressed with him. Normally when we get 50 shots, we’ll get anywhere from nine to 15 goals, but he held us to six. The Polomskys were excellent, too. There’s no doubt they’re very high-caliber players.” Said Nascenzi, “I’m disappointed, but it was Mt. Lebanon that made it this far, not Erie Prep, Baldwin or Upper St. Clair. It was a tough loss, but nothing to be ashamed of. The kids pulled together and came a long way.” The Polomskys expressed similar feelings. “It was a tough loss,” Phil Polomsky said. “We didn’t play as well as we did the first three games, but they only had one loss, so they had to be doing something right. But it was a really great year. We beat the three toughest teams from around here, so we showed we were better than a third-place team.” Added Mike Polomsky, “I wish we would have won, obviously. The game could have gone either way. We had a bad first period and we should have capitalized on a few more opportunities.” Whether Mt. Lebanon can perform similar feats next season will depend on whether the Polomskys capitalize on a few of their own opportunities. The talented sophomores are considering attending prep school next year but have not yet made a decision. “It’s really up in the air,” Phil said. While the Lebos lose Horn, they return sophomore Keith Bowen in goal, who filled in for Horn while he was hurt for the last half of the season. “I’m looking forward to next year, I really am,” Nascenzi said. “Our freshman team did very well this season, so we have a good feeder system. If we get the Polomskys back and Bowen keeps developing, we should do very well again.”
CREDIT: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mark Madden – Post-Gazette Sports Writer