Latrobe hockey team hoping to make run in season's 2nd half
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Last season, the Latrobe ice hockey team rolled through Class AA on its way to a 20-3 record and a state championship. This season, the Wildcats have scrapped their way through 10 games to compile a record of 5-4-1.
Although their record may be hovering around .500, the team is still developing. The 2013-14 Latrobe team believes that they're in a position to peak at the right time.
Despite losing key contributors from last year's squad to graduation, Latrobe entered the season confident that with a few tweaks to their aggressive offensive schemes and some progression as a team, they could be successful. But through 10 games this season, it's clear that the Wildcats are still adjusting.
“It's been a period of adjustment so far, that's exactly what it is,” Latrobe's coach John Winebrenner said. “We have an aggressive system, but we've been adapting the system to fit some of the younger guys. We've been making the appropriate changes to see what works best for them.”
Winebrenner's alterations have led to a balanced offensive attack. So far, six players have double-digit point totals.
“With the changes we've made, lots of guys have made tremendous progress,” Winebrenner said. “It's more of a team effort this year”.
Seniors Chris Johnson and Adam Ferguson have led the effort so far for the Wildcats. Johnson has notched 14 goals and 26 points in the young season. Ferguson leads the team in assists and has accumulated 21 points.
Latrobe also has received major contributions from forwards Brendan Johns, Dan Johnson and Dalton Hunter.
Ferguson, a co-captain who tallied a hat trick in the team's last game — a tie against Erie Cathedral Prep — echoed the sentiments of his coach.
“It's been hard but the younger guys have been stepping up,” he said. “They know their roles. It's not an individual show in Latrobe. It's a team effort.”
While the Wildcats' offense has maintained its scoring touch this season, its defense is still a work in progress. The team has struggled to reproduce last season's defensive dominance. In 10 games, the Wildcats have allowed 54 goals. Last season, the unit gave up just 31 goals in 19 games.
Despite their struggles, it's a unit that Winebrenner believes will improve as the season goes on.
“We just have to be more consistent,” he said. “Normally we don't have too much trouble scoring. We've got to focus on the other side of the ice.”
Thanks to the solid defensive play from seniors Joe Wright and Drew Tonks, as well as Nathan Winebrenner and big-hitter Dan Staffen, the Wildcats have reason to believe that there is room for growth.
First-year starter, goalie Timothy Ruppen, also figures to improve with more experience With the first half of the season already in the books, the team knows it has to ramp up the intensity after the holiday break.
It's a challenge they welcome, according to Ferguson.
“We've been in high-pressure situations before,” he said. “We've been there. It is going to be all up to everybody performing their roles and trusting that.
“As a team, we want to come back firing in the second half of the season.”
While duplicating last year's success has proven to be a difficult task, this year's Latrobe squad believes its best hockey is yet to come.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Russian winger Plotnikov could join Penguins in August
- Pittsburgh Regatta will go on without boats, water events
- Rescuers use hoist to lift horse from Washington County sinkhole
- FBI questions Allentown mayor, seizes contract documents
- Rossi: Rutherford shines as old boss pouts
- Hempfield woman seriously injured in crash
- LaBar: What’s killing professional wrestling
- Crane tips over, smashes into roof of building at Pitt
- Former Jeannette coach held for trial on charges of assault on teen girls
- Shaken by economic, political turmoil, MLB forsaking Venezuela
- Young Nebraska girl’s organs give 2 Pittsburgh-area boys a chance to live