New coach set to lead Latrobe hockey

| Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 9:36 p.m.

The Latrobe hockey program is synonymous with PIHL success, winning four titles in the last six seasons.

This year it will look to add a Penguins Cup championship trophy under new coach Josh Werner.

The Latrobe Hockey Club Board of Directors opened up the position at the end of April and interviewed all coaches that applied. The board felt Werner was the top candidate and so began a new reign in the program.

“We, collectively as a group, felt Josh Werner was a well-qualified coach with extensive playing and coaching experience in the sport,” Greater Latrobe Hockey Club president Leslie Rossi said. “He is a good fit for our program, and we are excited to have him work with the players in our club to keep the strong tradition of solid hockey teams at Greater Latrobe going.”

Werner replaces John Winebrenner, who led the team to an 11-8-3 mark and a PIHL Class AA quarterfinal appearance last season. The Wildcats were eliminated from postseason play after losing to Armstrong.

Werner brings a wealth of hockey playing experience and several years worth of coaching knowledge to his new position. After spending a season as Ringgold's coach, Werner said he jumped at the opportunity to coach a program with such a rich history.

“Going from an Open Division team in Ringgold and coming into a Double-A school with such rich history and success, it's an honor,” he said. “Once I saw the position open, I wanted to hurry up and get an interview and hopefully be a candidate for them.

“I'm so excited. I just want to get the season started already.”

Prior to joining the Wildcats organization, Werner helped improve a Ringgold team that went 3-17 before his arrival to a seven seed in the PIHL playoffs and a 9-11 mark last year. He pulled double-duty last season, coaching the Rams and the Mon Valley Thunder Bantam B team.

Werner, a 2008 graduate of Serra Catholic, played four years for the Eagles before playing four years at Cal (Pa.). Werner said the philosophies he will bring to the Wildcats are simple. He said he hopes to work with his new squad on fundamentals that take place in the offensive and defensive zones.

“I like to preach team defense,” he said. “That'll be my first goal. We want to be the best defensive team in the league.

“We want all three or four of our lines to contribute on both ends of the ice. That's one thing I'm really going to bring.”

For Werner, becoming a head coach is more than just on-ice, game day preparation. He said his role puts him in the position to help mold young high schoolers into better men.

“The one thing that I pride myself on is our work off the ice, and that's something I brought to Ringgold,” he said. “I like to do a lot of off-ice workouts, and I'm really on the kids about their school work.

“I want them to be good hockey players and better people and go on, whether it's juniors or whatever it may be.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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