After winning Penguins Cup title in Class AA, Plum hockey faces new challenge in AAA
By: Drew Karpen
Monday, September 25, 2017 | 11:00 PM
Expectations are always raised the year after winning a championship.
Usually, those expectations come from within the organization. In the case of the Plum hockey team, it came from the PIHL.
Since defeating Latrobe, 6-1, at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in March in the Class AA Penguins Cup championship, the Mustangs have moved up to Class AAA to open up this season.
“We didn't expect to get bumped up to Class 3A, so we will see how it goes,” third-year coach Vinnie Somma said. “We are excited for the opportunity.”
All offseason, the Mustangs have been preparing for life at the next level. From practice, to their opponents and venues, to even their own roster, everything is different this year.
Plum will be entering its new challenge with a new roster with 11 players from last year's championship team gone to graduation.
“It has been exciting,” Somma said about the classification move. “We are looking forward to playing new teams. We haven't played any of these teams. It will be a good challenge for the team.
“It gives a huge opportunity for younger guys to fill that hole and make a name for themselves in the new Class AAA bracket.”
The Mustangs will have one player returning with experience, and it just so happens to be at one of the most valuable positions on the ice.
Senior goalie Sergio Benitez will be returning as the backstop for Plum.
“If above all else, if you can have one guy coming back, you need a good goalie,” Somma said. “He knows how to finish the game. He has proven himself to be a winner.”
Benitez and the Mustangs will look to pick up a win in their season-opener Oct. 2 against Peters Township at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in Lower Burrell. The Indians enter the season as the defending PIHL Class AAA champion.
“What is the point of playing teams that aren't any good,” Somma said. “They are a bigger school and are one of the better teams. You only get better playing those teams. It is very exciting.”
Drew Karpen is a freelance writer.