Latrobe hockey relishes 2nd chance in Penguins Cup playoffs

Sunday, March 12, 2023 | 4:29 PM

Latrobe is not about to waste a second chance at PIHL glory.

In 2020, the Wildcats hockey team made the Penguins Cup championship, but the covid pandemic sent Latrobe to the penalty box for something it didn’t do. The Wildcats never came out.

The championships were canceled, and Latrobe packed it in for the season wondering what might have been.

Move ahead to this season, and another postseason opportunity has appeared out of thin air. Ninth-year Wildcats coach Josh Werner won’t totally chalk it up to karma for his 14 seniors, but he’ll take the opportunity Latrobe was given after Bishop McCort was forced to forfeit its 2-1 overtime Class 2A quarterfinal win over the Wildcats for using an ineligible player.

“My heart dropped. … It was like a dream,” Wildcats senior forward Peyton Myers said. “There was a lot of sadness after we lost. We were depressed because we’re thinking, this is our last high school game of our lives. You never get that back.”

But Latrobe (12-7) did, and it will take on South Fayette (16-3) at 9 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center in Moon Township.

The winner will meet Armstrong (18-3) or Thomas Jefferson (13-8) in the championship at 6:15 p.m. March 21 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

“We’ll take it,” said Werner, who was thrilled for his team and empathetic toward Bishop McCort when the league called to tell him the Wildcats were in the frozen four. “I am excited for our guys. It’s such a big group. To get another opportunity at the promised land, so to speak, is amazing for them.”

Suddenly, the team’s annual postseason pasta dinner was back on, and Werner had to find ice time for a practice.

“As you can imagine, our locker room was emotional after the loss (to Bishop McCort),” Werner said. “We gave the seniors an opportunity to say something. It was hard to take. It was over. It’s amazing to think we’re back in it.”

Werner also thought back to 2020, when uncertainty wore on his team like a bad headache.

“We were going to play in high school nationals that year, too,” he said. “We were on the bus on the way back from a semifinal win when we heard about covid canceling the season.”

Myers recalls the disappointment that came with the finals that never were.

“That year didn’t get to be finished,” he said. “This is our chance to finish this year the way we want. We want to do it for us, but also everyone that has been supporting us.”

Latrobe lost twice to South Fayette during the regular season — and one other time in an exhibition during a holiday tournament — and all three games were tight. The Lions won 3-2, 5-4 and 5-4. The second league game went to a shootout.

A 40-minute delay occurred in the first matchup because of an injury to a South Fayette player. The Lions used a five-minute power play to put away the Wildcats.

“We want to take it to them,” Myers said, “when it counts.”

Latrobe has won four Penguin Cup titles, the last in 2013.

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


More High School Hockey

Plum grad excited to take over alma mater’s hockey program
Norwin’s Alex Thomas trades skates for shoes to play in international ball hockey championships
Successful 2nd season for PIHL girls league ends with Southeast on top
Freeport teammates Madyson Kirsch, Rowan Wible make big impact in PIHL girls league
Title contenders face off as PIHL girls division’s 2nd season begins