Latrobe hockey team dominates Hempfield

Friday, December 21, 2018 | 9:51 PM

The high school hockey banners at Nevin Arena are dominated by Latrobe’s accomplishments, including three consecutive Pennsylvania Cup championships from 2008-10, and the Wildcats stirred those memories Friday night.

Three Latrobe players scored two goals apiece, and the Wildcats registered five power-play goals in a 7-1 rout of Hempfield in a penalty-filled PIHL Class 2A Southeastern Division game, their third win in a row.

“Five power-play goals doesn’t happen very often,” Latrobe coach Tyler Batch said. “We certainly took advantage of those opportunities.”

Greg Ferri, Jarred Stein and Cole Novak scored twice for Latrobe (9-2), and goaltender Greg Irons stopped 23 shots.

“It was definitely a total team effort,” Batch said. “It’s a perfect example of everyone doing their job.”

Hempfield (8-3), which had a four-game winning streak stopped, was playing without three regulars, including injured forward Jared Gerger, the team’s second-leading scorer.

The others were forward Dan Pronin and goaltender Sean Lanager.

For Hempfield coach Tom Eisaman, though, it was no excuse. He couldn’t really figure out one, but he tried.

“For whatever reason, whatever it was — the time change or what — we looked dead tired,” Eisaman said.

The game was moved back a day from its originally scheduled Thursday date because of a conflict. Varsity games in the PIHL rarely, if ever, are scheduled before 7 p.m.

“We’ve never played this early in the day,” Eisaman said. “People have their routine, kids get home from school … who knows? I don’t have an explanation for it, but it’s definitely the worst game we’ve played this year — and probably last year, too.”

Yet Latrobe faced the same circumstances and came out crisp.

Ean Lamolinara opened the scoring in the first period for the Wildcats, who entered the day with 16 points and tied with three other teams, including Hempfield.

After Trent Gray provided the Spartans with their only goal to send the teams into the second period tied 1-1, Latrobe scored four goals in the second.

The flurry was capped by a pair by Novak goals in a span of 1 minute, 23 seconds.

“It was 1-1 coming out of the first period,” Eisaman said, “and I thought we were horrible in the first period. We just didn’t have our legs, we didn’t skate well, we didn’t move without the puck and we stood around and looked a lot.

“It was just one of those games.”

Ferri’s first goal 15 seconds into the period put Latrobe ahead for good 2-1. Stein followed with his first of the game before Novak scored both of his.

Three of the four goals in the period came on the power play as the teams combined for 40 penalty minutes, including 28 by Hempfield.

Both Latrobe goals in the third period — by Ferri and Stein — also were on power plays.

“It was nice to see those go in,” Batch said. “But, Hempfield is a good team, and they were still missing a few guys. It might have made a difference. I don’t know. But we had a game plan coming in and executed it to a ‘T.’ ”

Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.

ljanga is a Tribune-Review freelancer. You can contact ljanga at [email protected].

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