Road to the Penguins Cup 2015-16

Road to the Penguins Cup 2015-16

Drew Palmer, Sports Editor

Last year the Icecats opened the season with three losses for the first time in 11 years, but rebounded well enough to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference of the AA division with a record of 10-8-1 under first year head coach Josh Werner. This year, Werner wants his Icecats to get off to a quicker start and improve as the season goes on, with an overall goal of not only reaching the Penguins Cup finals, but being able to hoist the Penguins Cup at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh like the Cats did in 2013 after beating Pine Richland in the Penguins Cup finals, then going on to win the Pennsylvania state championship.


“It’s a big difference from last year because we all had a pretty big goal in hand to start the season. This year, we’re going practice-by-practice, game-by-game, shift-by-shift,” said Werner.


Greater Latrobe won four Penguins Cups and Pennsylvania state championships in six years, while also gathering a streak of seven straight division titles that ended two years ago. The pedigree still remains in the organization as Werner learned last season, and plans to work on getting back to a level of play that will get the Cats to Consol this March.


The Icecats participated in the annual St. Margaret Fall Faceoff Tournament and played a few tough games, losing to Canon-McMillan and Butler Area by scores of 3-0 and 7-5. These games were good learning experiences for the Icecats as they squared off against two of top teams in the AAA class. “It gave the kids some excitement to play those teams because we competed with them. It shows that if we compete with those two teams we can compete with any team in Western Pennsylvania, it was a great building block,” said Werner.


Returning letterman for the season include seniors Brendan Johns, Ryan DeFelice, Ian Greiner and Garrett Lawrence; juniors Cory Gates, Dan Johnson, Jack Schultheis and Ryan Pal; sophomores Blake Rossi, Vincent Yaniro, Alex Singley, JT Schimizzi and Jason DeFelice.


Along with the returning letterman, Werner has added five other players into the mix, including junior Carter Atkinson; sophomores Evan Clarke-Deaver, Paxton Knupp, Zach Kubitz, and freshman Cole Novak.


“This is a good group of young guys. I expect a lot from them this year, and they expect a lot from me,” said senior forward Brendan Johns.


Some of the players on the Latrobe team play for other organization, Like junior forward Cory Gates who plays for the Pittsburgh Huskies. “It’s a big difference from travel to school puck, the speed changes, teammates change, and the atmosphere is different,” said Gates.


Although the five departures, Greater Latrobe returns last years leading scorer, Brendan Johns who finished fifth in Class AA with 26 goals and 17 assists to post a total of 43 points. “We look for him to do the same thing he did last year, be a role model to the kids and show them how it’s done,” said Werner. Johns lead the team in the preseason tournament with seven points, with Dan Johnson posting four.
This year the Icecats have returned to the old full-bodied Cat logo on their chests. The same logo that the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Penguins Cup and Pennsylvania state champions donned on their sweaters.