Norwin notebook: Emergency goalie comes through for hockey team

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Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 11:01 AM


A bout of adversity didn’t stop the Norwin hockey team from winning, and it didn’t stop an offensive player from suiting up and playing goaltender.

Norwin had to face Freeport without junior goalkeeper Owen Burmeister, who suffered a concussion while playing for his youth team the previous weekend.

Knights coach Mike Robinson said the concussion initially went undiagnosed, and Burmeister played against Fox Chapel in the game before Freeport.

The all-star netminder took another hit to the head and this time had to sit.

Burmeister was the only goalie on the Knights’ roster. But as the Knights would have it, senior forward Sean Hanley donned pads and a mask and made 13 saves as Norwin rallied to win 3-2 in a shootout Jan. 26 at Kittanning’s Belmont Ice Complex.

“He did great,” Norwin coach Mike Robinson said of Hanley. “He made some timely saves for us during the game, which was huge. I mean, that is the hardest position on the ice. So for him to come in and make 13 to 15 saves to keep us in it … is all we could ask of him.”

Robinson said the Knights’ defense tried to keep Freeport’s shots to the outside to better serve Hanley.

“We backchecked like our life depended on it and we dictated play in the O-zone,” Robinson said. “We outshot Freeport, 50-15. (Freeport’s goalkeeper) played outstanding and kept that game in reach for his team.”

The Knights also were down two other key starters in Mario Cavallaro and Joey Vecchio.

Dom Cerilli’s goal in the fourth round of the shootout won it for the Knights (10-4-1), who needed a win after losing two in a row.

Dominick Costantino and Alex Thomas also scored in the shootout for Norwin.

Costantino and Logan Robb scored in regulation for the Knights.

“It was an interesting and fun game, and one I’ll remember for sure,” Robinson said.

Hey now, you’re an …

Alex Thomas began the season injured. He returned to make the PIHL Class A all-star game and helped the Gold team to a 6-6 tie against the Blue.

Thomas scored two goals and added an assist in the Class A game played Jan. 29 at Robert Morris’ Island Sports Center.

Lighting it up

Norwin’s boys basketball team took to the rims at Seton Hill and put on a show from behind the 3-point arc.

All Norwin needed to see was the first one go in.

From there, it was nothing but net and nothing but Knights.

Norwin connected on a season-high 13 of 19 3-pointers and had four players score in double figures as it throttled Latrobe, 69-41, on Jan. 29 in the Shootout at Seton Hill.

With standout Adam Bilinsky playing his second game since returning from an ankle injury, Norwin (11-6) played with confidence that showed in its ball movement, depth and range.

The 69 points were a season high for the Knights.

“If you move the ball, you’re going to get good shots,” Knights coach Lance Maha said. “The ball doesn’t have eyes. We were organizing, making crisp passes and getting good shots up.”

Bilinsky finished with 20 points. He, Justin Weaver and Jackson Pons all made three 3-pointers, while Ryan Edwards and Noah Vogel hit two each for the Knights.

Weaver finished with 13 points, Ryan Edwards added 11 and Vogel, 10.

“When teams give us the space to shoot it, we’re going to knock down shots,” Bilinsky said. “We can get past any press.”

Vogel, who came back from a knee injury he sustained during football season, scored the first seven points for Norwin to grease the wheels.

Then, all Latrobe could do was watch as the Knights pinged passes around the horn and swished 3s.

“I am loving my role,” Vogel said. “I worked a lot for it and was proud to make a start. We’re not a selfish team. We push each other and we know our roles.”

On the mat

Norwin was set to open the WPIAL team wrestling playoffs Feb. 1 with a Class 3A first-round match at against Latrobe at Canon-McMillan.

The Knights were tripped up by rival Penn-Trafford in a match that settled the Section 3 title.

The Warriors (6-8) won 35-31 to share the section title with Norwin (14-2) and Franklin Regional (7-1).

Penn-Trafford won the first five bouts to build a 23-0 lead, but Norwin came back with six wins, four via forfeit.

“We gave up too many bonus points and didn’t score enough,” Norwin coach Kyle Martin said. “We’re giving up too many pins. We’re reverting back to a style that doesn’t work.

The Knights got wins from Gage Mamie (139) and Nick Puskar (152) to go with three forfeits to pull ahead 25-23.

“As for the playoffs, it does matter where we get seeded,” Martin said. “We’ll just have to come back and wrestle better. Even though we had guys out of the lineup, that’s no excuse.”

Poolside

Norwin senior Anna Little can call the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming Championships a success. Little won the 200-yard individual medley at the event held Jan. 28 at Derry.

Wehner nominated

The third annual Willie Thrower Award, which recognizes the top quarterback in the WPIAL and City League each season, has its five finalists.

They are Payton Wehner of Central Catholic, Keyshawn Morsillo of Westinghouse, Armstrong’s Cadin Olsen, Sto-Rox’s Josh Jenkins and Cruce Brookins of Steel Valley.

Wehner is from North Huntingdon.

Recruiting news

• Ohio University, Miami of Ohio and Eastern Michigan offered Norwin junior football standout Jackson Pons, a wide receiver and defensive back.

• Norwin tight end and defensive end Noah Vogel picked up two more Division II PSAC offers from Edinboro and Shippensburg.

• AJ Clemens of Norwin has a football offer from Cal (Pa.).

On campus

Updates on Norwin alumni playing in college:

Baseball

Elevated expectations for Seton Hill baseball: What else is new?

The perennially contending Griffins were picked to finish first in the PSAC West Division for the third straight season.

Seton Hill finished 33-19-1 last season and went 2-2 in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional.

Senior shortstop Owen Sabol, a Norwin grad, was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-Region team as an honorable mention pick. Sabol, who had a team-best 15 stolen bases, hit .298 last season with 17 doubles, a triple, five homers and 26 RBIs.

Men’s volleyball

• St. Francis (Pa.): Junior outside hitter Joey Ferragonio (Norwin) had a season-high nine kills and six digs, but the Red Flash fell to North Greenville, 3-2. In 16 sets played, Ferragonio is hitting .615.

Thiel: Sophomore JC Govannucci had a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs in a 3-1 loss to Penn State Behrend. Freshman Tyler Hussey had six kills for the Tomcats in a 3-0 loss to Mount Union.

Women’s basketball

• Chatham: Freshman Alyssa Laukus had 15 points and six rebounds to lead Chatham to a 63-57 victory over Bethany.

Illinois-Springfield: Freshman Brianna Zajicek is averaging 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds and has scored in double figures 15 times in her first season with UIS. She transferred from Alderson Broaddus.

Pitt-Greensburg: Senior Sidney McCully had 17 points and sophomore Melina Maietta (Greensburg Central Catholic) added 15 as UPG defeated Mount Aloysius, 72-36. Freshman Chloe Lukondi chipped in nine points for the Bobcats in a 72-36 win over Mount Aloysius, then scored 10 in a 65-61 win over Alfred State.

Wrestling

Bucknell: Junior Kurt Phipps picked up a pair of wins as the Bison defeated LIU (38-4) and Rider (19-15). Phipps, ranked No. 23 at 133 pounds, won by decision and major decision to move to 24-8.

Buffalo: Freshman 165-pounder Chase Kranitz had a 4-1 record, with a fall, for the Bulls. His first collegiate win came at WrangleMania in November in Bethlehem, Pa. He scored a first-period pin.

Clarion: Sophomore John Altieri was 11-6 this season, competing at 149 and 157 pounds for the Golden Eagles. He had registered three major decisions and three falls.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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