Trib HSSN’s PIHL Team of the Week: Latrobe IceCats

Sunday, January 6, 2019 | 10:39 PM

Last season, the Latrobe IceCats won a division title and were the No. 1 seed in the Class AA Penguins Cup Playoffs. Their playoff exit came sooner than hoped, as it bowed out in the first round, losing 1-0 in overtime to No. 4 Quaker Valley.

Fast forward to the second half of the 2018-19 season, and Latrobe is racing toward another division championship. After a 5-0 win over Moon, Latrobe is two points ahead of all of the other teams in the Southeast Division of Class AA.

As a result of the win, Latrobe is this week’s TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Team of the Week, for the week running Monday, Dec. 31, 2018 through today.

“We played in a tournament and didn’t play very well right after Christmas,” Latrobe coach Josh Werner said. “We had a lot to prove to ourselves going into Thursday’s game about what kind of team we want to be in the second half of the season.”

Latrobe dominated its defensive zone, which led to a five-goal burst between the three periods at Kirk Nevin Arena on Thursday.

Latrobe led in shots on goal 30-12, and scored on its only power play, while killing off two penalties in the win.

Werner said one of his team’s biggest issues has been giving up leads late in games. He wanted his team to come out and play a good first couple of periods and then close out the game in the third.

“We only gave up three shots on goal in the third period so we did that,” said Werner. “It was a great team effort. Everyone came to play. It shows when we play well as a team, what the outcome can be.”

Gregory Ferri scored the first goal of the game at 3:49 in the first period, before the IceCats netted three in the second, two of which came from Cole Novak.

The goaltender in Thursday’s game, Gregory Irons, stopped all 12 of the shots he faced, including some Moon chances on the Tigers’ two power plays.

“One thing we talked about that we needed to do better is having our defensemen make better first passes out of the zone,” said Werner. “We also got into shooting lanes. We made some plays on the power plays they had. Irons played lights out and made some big saves early on to get us settled in.”

Latrobe has lost just two games this season by two goals each. The IceCats lost 4-2 to Mars in late October and 6-4 to Hampton in late November.

“We have made a god bit of progress. We were vulnerable, but we’re looking to turn a new page in the second half of the season,” said Werner. “What happened in that tournament and in the first half is behind us and it doesn’t mean much. We’re looking to make sure we’re ready to play consistent hockey and three periods of hockey going forward.”

Moving forward, Latrobe will take the ice against Baldwin at 7:15 p.m. Monday, before upcoming games against Franklin Regional, Upper St. Clair, Plum and North Division-leading Pine-Richland.

PIHL Honorable Mentions (Week Of Dec. 31):

Upper St. Clair picked up a 6-2 win over Hampton on Thursday as well, allowing the Panthers to keep pace with the IceCats in Class 2A’s Southeast Division. The Panthers play Franklin Regional on Monday in a game you can watch on the TribLIVE High School Sports Network.

Bishop McCort picked up a shutout win, 9-0 over Greensburg Salem. The Crimson Crushers are 8-3-0 and lead the East Division in Class A by three points entering the PIHL week.

Ringgold raced to a 10-1 win over Trinity in Division 2 action, while Carrick defeated Bishop Canevin 4-1. Ringgold is still four points behind Burrell for first place in Division 2, while Carrick moved into a tie with Central Valley for fifth place in the same classification.

Kyle Dawson is a freelance writer.

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

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