Hockey player/golfer Abdallah is Franklin Regional’s version of Happy Gilmore

By:
Monday, April 19, 2021 | 5:26 PM


Zach Abdallah is a hockey player who plays golf. Or is it the other way around?

Either way, he would make Happy Gilmore proud.

“Hockey led to golf for me,” the Franklin Regional junior said. “I started playing because of (golf teammate) Michael Wareham. Now, I play all the time.”

Abdallah exchanged his woods and irons for a stick and ice skates this PIHL season, and he has helped the Panthers reach the Class AA championship game for the second time since 2017.

The Panthers will skate against Baldwin for the title at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center.

Abdallah brings championship know-how to the final since he won a WPIAL Class AAA golf title with Franklin Regional in the fall.

“I have been playing hockey since I was 4,” he said. “My dad first got me into dek hockey. Winning two championships in the same year would be pretty cool.”

Junior forward Jeff Anderchak also played on the golf team.

Abdallah netted the winning goal in a 5-4 win over Montour in the semifinals. That after the forward said his team’s playoff hopes seemed dim earlier in the season.

“Our captain, Chase Williams, called a team meeting,” Abdallah said. “We were out of the playoffs and on a (three-game) losing streak. We said if we don’t pick up our game, the seniors are not going to be able to play in the playoffs. We wanted to play well for them.”

The Panthers (13-6) won four in a row to get into the Penguin Cup tournament. They held off Hempfield, 4-3, in the quarterfinals before another nip-and-tuck outing against Montour.

Back to Happy Gilmore, Abdallah said he gets references all the time.

“I have only seen the movie once,” he said. “You have to pay for it now to see it. I guess people see my swing and know I must play another sport. I have like a slap-shot swing.”

A hockey player with a baseball grip has translated well for Abdallah, who trusts his swing.

“We’ve heard from other teams that his slapping swing is not consistent or good enough for him to do well,” Panthers golf coach Jeff Traphagen said. “But being a WPIAL finalist in golf this past year, and placing tied for 19th at the finals, is not that bad considering it was his first trip to the individual postseason.”

Abdallah shot a 73 at Champion Lakes Golf Course near Ligonier, which was a team low at the fourth-lowest score of the tournament.

“He is an incredible young man that will play with just about anyone, and help them around the course if they are not a strong player,” Traphagen said. “I have had quite a few hockey players on our team, and aside from attempting to balance any scheduling conflicts, I would say it was a success leading our team to a championship. I welcome their athleticism and feel their hockey skills can transition to the course successfully.”

Abdallah had the third-lowest scoring average for the WPIAL champs and was a sleeper playing in the No. 6 spot in the team finals.

“We knew he could slam the door on a championship if it was close,” Traphagen said.

Abdallah finished the regular season with seven goals and 14 assists for a 21-point total that ranked third in the team.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Tags:

More High School Hockey

Gateway hockey celebrating 50th anniversary season
Shaler hockey coach preaches calculated risk taking
Young lineup off to strong start for Plum hockey
Norwin hockey program moving in right direction
North Hills hockey hopes last year’s strong finish carries over

click me