Last year was supposed to be the best PIHA Final series, and it was, and then 2017 was played. This year’s Founders Cup Finals were played this past weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado and man what a series. When the dust settled the Pittsburgh Inferno would take home their first Founders Cup, while the Thunder would again go home wondering what just happened. “This one hurts, and will for a long time. Not just the way things happened but how hard the guys fought. Just a shame, we really thought we had a championship this year,” said Head Coach, Larry Holmes.
What is Coach Holmes referring to? Well the series was a barnburner from the start as both games 1 and 2 on Friday night went to overtime with both teams taking one. Saturday night the Inferno took the series lead again taking game 3 (in OT) but then could not score in game 4 as the Thunder tied things up. Sunday obviously had to be some more of the same and it did not disappoint. Game 5, again took overtime as the Thunder took their first series lead only to come out and give away game 6 (4-1).
Then there was game 7, and what a game it was. The Thunder went up early on an early goal by Ryan Wass-Tursick and then a 2-goal lead when Cody Ayers buried a bullet in the back of the net with only 2min to go in the game. As most might have thought the Thunder would take home their third Founders Cup, there was a team from Pittsburgh that never had a doubt they still had a chance and with only 40 seconds to go Tyler Davis would give the Inferno some hope. After a Thunder breakaway and another opportunity at the empty net, Inferno D-man, Alex Galbreath would take advantage of a scrum in front of the Thunder net with only 4-tics on the clock to grasp the life from the Thunder bench and tie the game and send this epic Game 7 to overtime. This is where a hero must emerge and the Inferno found him under the name Matt Gerger. Gerger would find the back of the net after firing a slapshot past goaltender, Dan Lamb to give the Inferno a reason to celebrate. The goal would come with only 1:40 to go in the first OT and would be the 37th shot Lamb would face in Game 7.
Matt Gerger’s OT winner in Game 7 would be his third OT winner in the series and would seal the Playoff MVP award. Gerger would end up with a stat line that would be unbelievable in a Tuesday night rec league, let alone a PIHA Finals. (See Below!) His clutch performances each and every time the Inferno needed it was nothing less than amazing.
2017 PIHA Founders Cup Finals “Tail of the Tape”
– Regarded as the best PIHA Finals in the league’s history
– 7 games, 5 of 7 had to be decided in OT
– 38 total goals scored, 351 total shots on goal
– League MVP, Matt Gerger Stat Line (9g, 2a, 4GWG)
– Suffolk Sting takes home their 4th KIHA Cup in a row as Semipro Champions
– Team Colombia made their first appearance at the Finals with a great showing finishing 3rd