Share This Page

Penn-Trafford hopes semifinal run propels team to bigger things

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 6:28 p.m.
Doug Gulasy | Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford goaltender Eric Phelps makes a save during a Class AAA Penguins Cup semifinal game against Peters Township on March 12, 2014, at Robert Morris' Island Sports Center.

For the second time in three seasons, the Penn-Trafford hockey team advanced to the semifinals of the PIHL's Penguins Cup playoffs.

While the Warriors' most recent run ended there, the team is hoping to keep the momentum from its playoff success going into future seasons.

Penn-Trafford's 2013-14 season ended with a 6-1 loss to No. 2 seed Peters Township last week in the semifinal round at Robert Morris' Island Sports Center.

“Hopefully, it's something we can build off of,” Penn-Trafford coach Brian Lehneke said. “We have a good core coming back. I think we lose 11 seniors this year, so we still have eight or nine guys coming back from this semifinal year. I'm sure they got a little bit of a taste and want to get back there.”

The Warriors fell behind early against Peters Township, as Jonathan Dagnal scored two goals in 33 seconds to put the Indians up 2-0 less than two minutes into the game. Penn-Trafford battled back, getting 13 shots on goal in the first period, but Peters Township Brian Baker kept the Warriors off the board.

Peters Township scored two more goals in the second period before sophomore Cam Williams scored for Penn-Trafford to cut the score to 4-1 heading into the third. However, two early goals by Peters Township effectively ended the Warriors' chances of winning.

“I thought we played a good game,” Lehneke said. “We just couldn't get the puck behind Baker. I thought for a lot of the game we did have it in their end. We just unfortunately couldn't put the puck past him. Peters Township's definitely a very good team.”

The Warriors played the semifinal game without captain Jake Miller and alternate captain Andy Power, who Lehneke said were unavailable.

Penn-Trafford rebounded from a 3-17-1 finish last season to make it to the PIHL playoffs. The Warriors Upper St. Clair, 4-0, in the first round of the playoffs and defending champion North Allegheny, 6-5, in the quarterfinals.

“(They showed) a lot of heart and hard work,” Lehneke said. “Last year, most of the guys were on the team, with the exception of two or three players. They worked hard from last year all the way to the end of this year. That's something where they can (hold) their heads high.”

The Warriors finished the season as the No. 2 offense in PIHL Class AAA and also yielded the seventh-fewest goals.

Several key players should return for next season, including forwards Marc Anthony, Jordan Eisenstat and Cameron Williams; defensemen Dylan Baker, Steve Cheswick, Jacob Graffius, Shane Riley and Kenny White; and goalie Eric Phelps.

Still, Lehneke said the team would miss the contributions of its seniors.

“They all brought good leadership, good hard work ethic,” he said. “All through last year they never quit, even though we didn't win many games. It helped propel them into this year, where we came close to winning our section and ended up being semifinalists.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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.