Mercer County rivals join forces to help lead Neshannock to state championship

Sports

Over a half dozen players from Mercer County are on the Neshannock hockey team via a co-op program with the Lancers in the PIHL final

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – The Neshannock hockey team has made some history this season. The Lancers have reached the PIHL Class B final for the first time after coming up short in the semis the last two seasons.

“I mean, it was incredible but we knew — celebrate, enjoy it and then right back to work,” said assistant coach Matt Smith.

The Lancers aren’t your normal high school team. With few schools having hockey programs in Mercer and Lawrence counties, Neshannock is a co-op program, featuring over a half dozen players from Kennedy Catholic, Hickory, Grove City and Mercer.

“It is really cool,” said Lancers forward and Kennedy Catholic junior Thomas Malvar. “I have even grew up with some of these guys and have been playing with them a really long time. So to be with these guys again, it is really fun.”

“I think it is great, made us all family,” said Neshannock senior defenseman Gage Giordano. “Just working hard and we are going to win this.”

Even some of the biggest Mercer County rivalries are put aside with this Lancers group.

“Hickory is even Grove City’s rival, so it is good to make some friends there too,” said Lancers center and Grove City senior Hunter Harris.

“We get different personalities, different friend groups,” Smith said. “Different skill sets so they all kind of come together and they have touched on it. It is a family.”

Neshannock is just one win away from a Class B championship, which is set for Tuesday night. The Lancers will get a familiar foe in their way in Ringgold, a team they lost to earlier this season in overtime.

“It would mean so much,” Harris said. “Ringgold has been a huge rival and they have been dirty to us before. We just want to win so bad.”

“Man, it would pretty much mean the world to me,” Malvar said. “These guys are like my family, like literally. So many tournaments with these guys, so many games. If we can just win this game it will mean the world to me.”

The faceoff is slated for 9 p.m. at the RMU Island Sports Center.

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