Penn-Trafford hockey tops Franklin Regional for 3rd straight victory

Monday, January 8, 2018 | 10:47 PM

Some tweaking here and there by coach Rob Baker has helped to provide the Penn-Trafford hockey team with a vastly different look in the second half of the PIHL season.

The surging Warriors won their third game in a row Monday night, avenging an earlier loss to Class AA South/East Division-leading Franklin Regional.

Jack Hughes scored two goals and assisted on another and Joseph Gismondi scored twice as Penn-Trafford stopped the Panthers, 6-4, at Center Ice Arena.

“We took a look at things and we just wanted to get back to playing basic hockey. We changed our system,” Baker said, explaining that much of the problems stemmed from how Penn-Trafford was fore-checking opponents and operating on the power play.

“We just kind of wanted to get back to simplifying things,” he said. “It's made a world of difference.”

Vincent Passante and Ryan Mickey also scored for Penn-Trafford (7-6), which pulled away to a 6-2 lead with three unanswered goals to start the third period. Reno Patrick stopped 28 shots for the Warriors.

“He's played phenomenal for us,” Baker said of Patrick. “He held us in it tonight. Once again, we were out-shot. We nearly always get out-shot.”

Ethan Yohe and Nicholas Carretta each scored twice for Franklin Regional (8-4), which saw a three-game winning streak end.

The Panthers entered the night one point ahead of Latrobe and two ahead of Hempfield for the division lead.

“We let them come back. We overlooked them,” Franklin Regional coach Brian Kurtz said.

The Panthers dominated the Warriors, 5-1, in the second game of the season.

“It was addressed in practice and it was addressed tonight,” Kurtz said. “We just didn't respond well. We tried to focus, but we got out of the way we wanted to play.”

Franklin Regional, which last rolled to a 10-0 victory over North Hills on Jan. 2, came out fast and took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Yohe at 2:30 of the first period. Penn-Trafford equaled the score at 12:37 on Gismondi's first goal of the night.

“I have to credit my teammates for creating chances,” Gismondi said. “This is a pretty special win for us.”

Carretta's first goal a little more than a minute later gave Franklin Regional a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.

Passante beat Franklin Regional goaltender Daniel Soltesz at 3:09 of the second period to tie the score again before Hughes' power play goal at 8:03 gave Penn-Trafford the lead for good.

“That second goal was the difference-maker in this game to me,” Kurtz said. “That put us on our heels. I hate to say it, because you don't usually say this about it, but I think the worst thing that could have happened to us was to get that early lead. We just had too many defensive zone breakdowns, and we didn't create traffic in front of their net.”

Penn-Trafford went on a scoring tear to start the third. Mickey made it 4-2 at 2:31, followed by Hughes' second goal at 3:28 and Gismondi's second at 8:33 for a 6-2 advantage.

Yohe scored another power play goal for Franklin Regional at 15:05 and Carretta followed 29 seconds later with his second of the game, but the deficit for the Panthers was too much to overcome.

“We've started playing pretty well, and we showed that in an (exhibition) tournament over Christmas at Harmar against some pretty good competition,” Baker said. “This is a huge win for us. In the second game of the season, they beat us up pretty good.”

Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.

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