Tough opening game for Penn-Trafford hockey
With an almost entirely new roster, this year's Penn-Trafford hockey team's first goal is improvement.
The Warriors return only a few players with varsity experience from the team's program-best 19-2-1 record last season, and that means this season will be a case of new players having to learn on the fly.
That was the case in the team's season opener against Norwin last Thursday, when the Warriors got on the board first but surrendered six goals in a 9-minute, 30-second span to fall, 11-3, at Center Ice Arena.
Patrick Cortazzo, Michael Granata and Jonah Graffius had the goals for the Warriors, who had a three-game winning streak against Norwin snapped. Goaltender Jacob Proskin stopped 32 of 43 shots in his first varsity start.
“We expected a little bit better than this turnout,” second-year Penn-Trafford coach Brian Lehneke said. “We only had two or three guys out there that had played varsity before, and it took them a while. Once they got used to it, I thought we played a better third period than we did the first two.”
Lehneke said that this year's team will need contributions from the players who do have a little varsity experience, including Cortazzo, forward Tyler Wyckoff and defenseman Jake Miller, who is Penn-Trafford's top returning scorer with three goals and nine assists in 2011-12. Other players with experience, such as Daniel Cox and Andy Power, were not available for the Norwin game, but are expected to play big roles.
While there may be growing pains for the Warriors, however, the team's first goal remains the same for this season.
“We have the same goals as last year. First and foremost, the goal is to make the playoffs, and then, you want to reach more goals from there,” Lehneke said. “We have some good kids, and once they get their feet wet, I think they're going to be all right.”
Proskin was under fire to start the game against Norwin, as the Knights recorded the first 10 shots on goal in the game. But it was Penn-Trafford who found the net first, as Cortazzo flipped home the rebound of the Warriors' first shot of the game, which was taken Miller.
Norwin came back on a roll, scoring four goals in the three minutes after Cortazzo's tally. Granata stopped the bleeding with a booming slap shot from the blue line that resulted in an unassisted goal, but the Knights added two more goals to finish the first period with a 6-2 lead.
Graffius' goal in the second period cut the lead to 8-3, and it came on the power play with assists by Miller and Cortazzo.
“We swept Norwin last year, and a lot of those (Norwin) kids played in those games,” Lehneke said. “They remember that, and they came out ready to play today.”
For Norwin, Dan Merz, Alex Moxie and Marc Swankler had hat tricks, and Tim Palmer scored the other two goals.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.