Penn-Trafford tops West Allegheny to win GCC preseason tournament
Describing what was gained from the preseason is something Penn-Trafford goalie Reno Patrick easily put his finger on.
Beating West Allegheny, 5-1, to win the Greensburg Central Catholic preseason tournament Thursday night at Kirk Nevin Arena gave the Warriors confidence.
It isn't a hallmark win for the Warriors. Penn-Trafford beat an Indians team that finished 2-17 last season and was relegated to the PIHL's Class A.
The Warriors, who open their Class AA schedule next Monday at Center Ice against Shaler, clearly still are learning. Penn-Trafford has an idea what will help make it better.
“Wins. We're trying to win the tournament so we can have a successful season,” Patrick said. “Just chemistry. That's it.”
Penn-Trafford had to break things down and rebuild.
Heavy losses from graduation forced its hand. Only three players with experience — Derek Tamino, Ben Leslie and Patrick — return from last year's varsity squad, which finished 7-12 and missed the PIHL playoffs.
Penn-Trafford looked the part of a young team against West Allegheny. In the first period, the Warriors blitzed the Indians, getting four goals from four players.
Tyler Bosack, Nate Mickey, Jack Hughes and Leslie scored in the first period.
“We worked well as a team, we moved the puck well and played physical on the forecheck,” said Leslie, who added another in the third period. “We strayed away from that in the second period, but in the first we played really well on the forecheck.”
By the next period, Penn-Trafford was getting caught off guard on line changes and lost on defense.
“When we went in at the ice cut, we stressed playing together as a team as well,” Penn-Trafford coach Rob Baker said. “As you see in the third period, our attack-zone time was unreal. We brought the shots way back down. We only gave up three shots and majorly outplayed them.”
Overall, the shift allowed West Allegheny to tilt the ice, scoring once and having a 9-8 edge in shots on goal.
“We got a little too selfish and goal hungry, and everyone was trying to get that breakaway goal,” Leslie said. “It really shows when we get up we have to keep the pedal to the medal and keep playing well.”
In the third period, Penn-Trafford returned to form offensively. The Warriors finished with a 33-16 edge in shots on goal.
More importantly, they had an opportunity to skate around with a trophy. It's a big part of why Penn-Trafford wanted to play in the event.
“This tournament was meant to get our chemistry built up,” Tamino said.
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.