| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Latrobe hockey team keeps rolling

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional senior Austin Avampato, right, reaches his stick across to try and take the puck from Latrobe's Robert Vasinko during the teams' meeting at Center Ice Arena on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012.
Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012, 9:15 p.m.

Don't bother trying to match up against the Latrobe hockey team — line after line, talented player after talented player, the Wildcats keep rolling at you seemingly in waves.

“We don't have to worry about matchups,” Wildcats captain Josh Singley said. “We have enough guys, we just roll our bench ­­— and it works.”

It's worked so well that the deep Wildcats are in first place at 6-1 and are on the short list of teams to beat in PIHL Class AA this season.

Latrobe has outscored opponents, 53-12, has five players averaging at least two points and boasts four more skaters averaging at least one goal. Thirteen players have at least one goal (10 have two or more), and all but two players on the roster have a point.

“A big plus for us is we're getting production from all of our players,” coach John Winebrenner said. “You look around league, most teams have four or five guys who put up points. We have 10 or 12 guys putting points on the board consistently, which makes a big difference.”

Latrobe was almost too deep for its own good to begin the season. With so many players qualified for duty on the first line, discovering the proper combinations took some thought and experimentation.

It wasn't until after the Wildcats' only loss — Nov. 19 to Chartiers Valley — that Winebrenner and his staff shook things up and ultimately settled on the lines they employ now.

“We made some changes in the lineup, and it's made a big difference both in offensive production and on the defensive side of the puck,” Winebrenner said.

No player has been more productive offensively than Singley, a senior who leads Latrobe in goals (11) and assists (13).

Forward Adam Ferguson and defenseman Rob Vasinko serve as alternate captains, and Shane Brudnok is another of Latrobe's senior leaders. Brudnok and Singley are the final key components left from Latrobe's most recent of three consecutive state championships from 2008-10.

A four-year starter at goalie, Brudnok has a 1.73 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

“He's the backbone of our team, and he has been since his freshman year,” Singley said. “We rely on him to step up big for us every night — and he always comes through.”

Ferguson ranks second on the team in goals (nine) and assists (nine). Junior Chris Johnson has eight goals and six assists in Latrobe's seven games, and a pair of freshmen — Dalton Hunter and Brendan Johns — each have 12 points in six games to tie for fourth on the team in scoring.

Junior Nate Winebrenner and sophomores Joe Wright and Can Carr also are valuable forwards. Carr has versatility in that his two-way play translates well to the blue line when Latrobe needs an extra defenseman for a shift or game.

Sophomore Dan Staffen and junior Drew Tonks join Vasinko as the heart of the defensemen corps.

Only about a third of the way through its season, Latrobe has an eight-point grip on the Section 3-AA lead.

The Wildcats also already have defeated two of the other section leaders (Pine-Richland and Moon), and Winebrenner has no reservations about proclaiming that his team is aiming to win every game it plays the remainder of the regular season so it can get the No. 1 seed in the Penguins Cup playoffs.

“The ultimate goal for us is what we've said from Day 1 — to bring another state title back to Latrobe,” Vasinko said.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Pirates acquire pitcher Blanton from Royals for cash
  2. Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
  3. Teenage boys arrested in connection with armed robberies in Shadyside
  4. Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
  5. ‘Greed is not criminal,’ says judge in McCullough trial
  6. Pittsburgh authority hires firm to end long vacancy at North Shore retail space
  7. Work release inmate walks away from Armstrong County Jail
  8. Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
  9. Multiple delays to slow travel between Alle-Kiski Valley, Greensburg
  10. Police: Avonmore mayor found stranger’s lost wallet, took cash from it
  11. Connellsville man arrested for firing handgun at city’s East Park