Franklin Regional hockey eyes title that got away

Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Franklin Regional came up a little short in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Class 2A finals in 2021. The Panthers fell 2-0 to Baldwin.

But with 10 starters returning, including their top seven forwards, the Panthers have their eye on the title that eluded them.

“I hope we continue to play well,” Franklin Regional coach John Winebrenner said. “We’re playing well. It was encouraging how we played in a couple of preseason tournaments.”

Franklin Regional (2-0) opened the season with a 6-3 win against Hempfield and a hard-fought 6-4 win over a talented Penn-Trafford squad.

The Panthers also played well in two preseason tournaments, splitting games with Penn-Trafford and finding success in the Saint Margret’s tournament, defeating Canon-McMillan and Central Catholic and falling to Mt. Lebanon by a goal. They also had a scrimmage against North Allegheny.

“We have a lot of players back,” Winebrenner said. “The core of the team returns.”

Returning forwards include Chase Williams (two goals), Zach Abdallah, Luke Lavrich (two goals, three assists), R.J. Kelly (goal, three assists), Luke Beatty (three assists), Ben Yurko (three goals) and Zach Zeto (two goals, one assist).

Franklin Regional graduated three players: goaltender Gunner Fulton and forwards Jake Rettger and Joey Borgia.

In the playoffs, Franklin Regional edged Hempfield (4-3) and Montour (5-4) before falling to Baldwin.

Also back is backup goaltender Alex Rauber. He’ll share time with Nolan Schilling.

Another player returning is senior defenseman Adam Hoff, who played junior hockey in New England.

“We gave great depth,” Winebrenner said. “We have five good defenseman and we’ll be a very fast team. The key is staying healthy.”

With Baldwin moving up to Class 3A, Winebrenner expects challenges from South Fayette, Thomas Jefferson and Penn-Trafford.

Franklin Regional was scheduled to return from two weeks off by playing Latrobe on Oct. 28 and West Allegheny on Nov. 2. They’ll have another big battle with Penn-Trafford at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Center Ice Arena in Delmont.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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