Penn-Trafford playoff run ends with loss in Penguins Cup finals

Sunday, March 24, 2024 | 11:01 AM

It was a great run while it lasted, but the Penn-Trafford hockey team’s quest for the Class 2A Penguin Cup championship ended with a hard-fought loss to Thomas Jefferson.

The eighth-seeded Warriors held two leads against the second-seeded Jaguars, but a big second period helped propel TJ to the 8-4 victory March 18 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Thomas Jefferson scored five goals in the period, three coming late to break open a close game.

“I think our legs got tired in the second period and they took advantage,” Penn-Trafford coach Chris Cerutti said. “Until that point, we were in the game. It still was a great run and good performance by the players.”

Penn-Trafford showed its mettle in the third period, scoring two goals to trim the score to 6-4. In fact, the Warriors dominated the action until TJ’s Jake Stock’s empty-netter with 2:04 left sealed the victory.

Chase Bonson gave Penn-Trafford a 1-0 lead on the power play before TJ tied the score late in the period by scoring from crease.

Penn-Trafford grabbed a 2-1 lead early in the second period when T.J. Ferguson slapped in a shot with 14:25 left.

But Thomas Jefferson was relentless and tied the score when Scott Allan chipped the puck past goaltender Tyler Funk at 9:51.

Less than two minutes later, Allan took a feed from Nathan Weiss and backhanded the puck past Funk at 7:54 for a 3-2 lead.

“Coming into the game, we didn’t want to be involved in a track meet,” Cerutti said. “We tried to slow them down, but I feel we got a little tired and they opened things up.”

Penn-Trafford came out flying in the third period and Bonson scored with 15:36 left to make it 6-3.

The Warriors had a couple more chance, but TJ goalie Ronnie Porupsky made a few big saves.

Penn-Trafford refused to quit and cut the lead to 6-4 when Aiden Drotos put in a rebound with 4:46 left.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Cerutti said. “They came back out in the third period and could have keeled over — ‘Oh, it’s TJ’ — but they made it a game at the end. We fell a little short.

“Our best defense against their attack is to play in their zone. Once we got the first goal, we relaxed.”

Despite the loss and the disappointing end to the regular season, Cerutti said he saw a lot of good from the players.

They knocked off No. 1 South Fayette, 4-3, in the opening round and then beat rival and No. 4 Norwin, 6-3, in the semifinals.

“It says a lot for our programs,” Cerutti said. “When I came here six years ago, playoffs were an afterthought. Two years later, playoffs were expected and maybe we’ll have some success.

“Fast-forward to three years ago, we were expected to make a run at the Pens Cup. We had never made it, and this year we made it. I told the seniors, ‘You’ve been a part of this and now you’ve set a bar for future teams.’”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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