Franklin Regional motivated to make Penguins Cup run

Saturday, February 12, 2022 | 11:01 AM

When the Franklin Regional hockey team plays a game, the Panthers do so with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2021 Panthers reached the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Penguins Cup championship game in Class 2A, but lost to Baldwin.

“Every time we play a game, we talk about that game,” senior defenseman Ben Yurko said. “We want to get back to that game. It’s been our motivation all season.”

Franklin Regional finds itself in a good position heading into the final games of the regular season. The Panthers are battling Armstrong and Penn-Trafford for first place in the Class 2A East Division. The Panthers and Riverhawks entered last Thursday’s games with 27 points and the Warriors had 26.

“We have 13 seniors, and we’ve played together for a long time,” Yurko said. “We have chemistry and play well together.”

Franklin Regional coach John Winebrenner said the four seniors — Yurko, defenseman Luke Beatty and forwards Zach Abdallah and Zach Zeto — have all contributed and when the team needs them to make a play, they respond.

“After losing in the Pens Cup, this team has worked hard and has come back hungry,” Winebrenner said. “They are focused, and they know what it takes to get back into the finals.

“They show up every night and play hard. They know in the playoffs it’s one and done. They don’t want that to happen. We’re scoring more goals this season.”

Abdallah has 12 goals and 16 assists. Zeto has 14 goals and nine assists, while Beatty has seven goals and 15 assists and Yurko has six goals and 10 assists.

Chase Williams is the team’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 25 assists, and Matty Knizner has 14 goals and five assists.

“The four seniors are leaders by example,” Winebrenner said. “They make the other guys around them better. They know how to pick up a team.”

Yurko said the team gained a lot of confidence when it defeated Baldwin in a holiday tournament. Baldwin is now playing Class 3A.

“It was the first time we’ve beaten them,” Yurko said. “It got us going. We’re jumped up.”

One team in the other division playing well is Thomas Jefferson. The Jaguars beat both Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional.

“It’s going to be a battle to the end,” Winebrenner said. “We have to play more disciplined in the playoffs. You can’t afford to take penalties in the playoffs. You have to stay focused.”

If Franklin Regional defeats Hempfield (Feb. 14), Latrobe (Feb. 21) and Shaler (24), it will win the East Division.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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