Irons, Amatucci thriving in goal for Latrobe hockey
Sunday, January 19, 2020 | 8:32 PM
Most hockey teams are fortunate to have one all-star goaltender.
Latrobe could make a case it has two.
Senior Greg Irons and sophomore Vinny Amatucci have split time for the unbeaten Wildcats (12-0), who sit atop the PIHL Class AA standings.
“Both are playing very well,” Latrobe coach Josh Werner said. “The coaching staff and I have been very pleased with their work ethic, preparation and how they’ve played the games.”
So far, the goaltenders have shared time equally with six games apiece.
“Going into the year, I told both goalies that, no matter what, they have to earn their playing time. That goes for their preparation and how they work in practices as well as how they perform in games,” Werner said. “They both accepted the challenge. I’ve never seen two goalies work so hard in practices and games to become better. It just so happens we’ve been rotating them every other game. Is that how it’ll be, going forward? It depends on them. I keep telling them to make me make that tough decision. No matter what happens, I know they will be out there playing their hardest.”
Both goaltenders played last season. Irons went 7-0 as the backup to Gage Handwork. Amatucci earned a couple of starts in a holiday tournament. This season, Irons and Amatucci have formed a perfect duo.
“It’s really good. He and I get along very well. It’s more of a friendly competition,” Irons said. “One of the things I really like about it is it creates a lot of competition between us and keeps us working hard in practices and games to improve each other.
“Playing time is not given to us. We have to show our coaches in practice and in the games that we want the position. Just because I am senior, I’m not just given it and that’s how it should be.”
Amatucci has enjoyed working with Irons.
“Going into the year, I thought I’d get a game here or there,” he said. “Greg has been great about it. He is a mentor for me. He is really nice. It’s just really fun because I don’t have to worry about him getting upset about the situation. He’s been there for me.”
Both goaltenders lean on each other in games and practices for pointers.
“We talk with each other about what we should work on,” Amatucci said. “He is really good at mentoring me. He tells me all the time about varsity shooters. He’s been a great mentor.”
They have the luxury of playing in front of a solid, veteran team, too. Latrobe has allowed a PIHL-low 14 goals in 12 games.
“Having that team in front of us is a big reason why both of us are so successful,” Irons said.
Amatucci said: “We knew it was going to be a pretty good year with all the seniors we have. Getting to share the net for this team has been an honor.”
The PIHL selected Irons to participate in Sunday’s Class AA All-Star Game. He will join teammates Alex Walker, Cole Ferri, Darick Hrtyanski and Lane Ruffner.
“It’s a nice honor,” Irons said. “It makes me pretty proud and feel pretty good about the way the season has gone.”
The Wildcats will honor seniors Nick Byrd, J.S. Florek, Ean LaMolinara, Josh Martino, Colten McCutcheon, Jarred Stein, Hrtyanski, Irons, Ruffner and Ferri on Feb. 10 before their game against Quaker Valley. It is a group aiming for a long postseason run.
“We’re trying to make it to the Penguins Cup,” Irons said. “That’s our goal.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
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