Goalie calls his shot as Baldwin blanks Franklin Regional for Pens Cup Class AA title

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | 9:57 PM

Baldwin junior goaltender Ed Nowicki told his coach after a semifinal win that he’d get a shutout in the finals.

Nowicki lived up to his prediction.

He made 29 saves and Baldwin defeated Franklin Regional, 2-0, in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Class AA Penguins Cup championship game at Robert Morris’ Island Sports Center. It was the Highlanders’ first title since 1988.

“The kids were getting tired of hearing 1988,” Baldwin coach Justin Glock said. “We were so close last year, and it’s so satisfying for the guys. I know a lot of people were pulling for us. We envisioned this from the start of the season.”

Baldwin was set to face Latrobe in the 2020 finals before the coronavirus ended the season.

It was the second time this season that Baldwin had defeated Franklin Regional. In the regular season, Baldwin won 2-1 in overtime. In that game, Franklin Regional pelted Nowicki with 48 shots.

Nowicki’s biggest save Tuesday came in the second period when the Panthers’ Zach Zeto raced down on a breakaway. Nowicki calmly made the save against his friend.

“We talked before the game. It was kind of cool that he got a breakaway,” Nowicki said. “I just stayed square and made the save.”

Glock said Nowicki’s performance in the first two periods preserved the win.

“Ed played so well in the Thomas Jefferson game, and we were giving him a hard time for allowing two goals,” Glock said. “You gave up two buddy, and he said, ‘I’ll get a shutout the next game,’ and lo and behold, he does it.

“He’s unbelievable and such a humble kid. He deserves all the praise. If it weren’t for him in the first two periods, we would have been in big trouble.”

Baldwin grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period when Zach Borman ripped home a rebound. The lead went to 2-0 with 11:01 left when Carson Kress outhustled the Franklin Regional defense and flipped a shot over Franklin Regional goaltender Gunner Fulton’s left shoulder.

Fulton made numerous saves to keep the Panthers in the game, finishing with 31 stops.

“Nowicki is a tough goaltender, and we knew it would be difficult,” Franklin Regional coach John Winebrenner said. “We gave it our all. I couldn’t ask more.

“I’m proud of them. We came in as the seventh seed, and we made it to the finals. We worked hard and won six straight to get here.”

Glock said his defense did a good job lifting sticks and clearing pucks.

“That’s what we’ve taught them,” Glock said. “We knew Franklin Regional would come out firing.”

Winebrenner added: “We had our opportunities that we missed on.”

Baldwin will play in the state finals against the Flyers Cup champion, either Haverford or Downingtown West, at 2 p.m. Saturday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

“Franklin Regional is a good team, and we knew they were going to put guys in front of me,” Nowicki said. “They were trying to take away my eyes. So I had to work with the defensemen.”

Winebrenner said he’s already looking forward to next year. The Panthers graduate three players – Fulton, Jake Rettger and Joey Borgia.

Watch a replay of this game on Trib HSSN.

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

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