PIHL AA Penguins Cup Final Preview: Penn-Trafford vs. Thomas Jefferson

The Warriors look for their first Penguins Cup while the Jaguars have won four titles

Sun Mar 17, 2024 - 10:31AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Sun Mar 17, 2024 - 4:28PM

No. 8 Penn-Trafford Warriors vs No. 2 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars

Date: Monday, March 18th

Location: UPMC Lemieux Complex in Cranberry

Faceoff: 6:15 p.m.

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford finished as the eighth and final playoff qualifier in Class AA, as the Warriors went 7-9-4 in the regular season, compiling 18 points. Additionally, PT sputtered down the stretch of the campaign, losing seven of its final eight tilts, including a setback to previously-winless North Hills in the regular-season finale. The postseason has been a different story, however, as the Warriors opened the playoffs with a stunner against top-seeded South Fayette. In their 4-3 victory at the Mount Lebanon Ice Center, the Warriors netted a pair of power play goals, including the go-ahead tally by Gavin Paterson in the final minute of the second period. Ben Zierski and Cam Kiste tallied goals for PT in the opening period, and Robert Thatcher’s empty netter in the final minute of regulation sealed the victory. Freshman goalie Tyler Funk made 31 saves in the win. In the semifinals last Tuesday, the Warriors exploded for five goals in the second period to claim a 6-3 win against fourth-seeded Norwin. Drew Hall scored two goals and added an assist for Penn-Trafford, while Kyler Doran added a goal and two helpers. Funk earned the victory between the pipes once again, making 24 stops against the Knights. Chris Cerutti, a PT grad, is in his sixth season at the helm of the Warriors.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson was dominant during the regular season, compiling a mark of 18-2-0. With 36 points, the Jaguars tied with South Fayette for the top spot, but TJ fell to the second seed as a result of the tiebreaker. Tied through two periods against No. 7 Hempfield Area, the Jaguars scored a pair of goals in the third to secure a 5-3 victory in the quarterfinals at the Ice Castle Arena in Castle Shannon. Scott Allan paced the attack for the Jags, registering a goal and two assists. In the semifinals against sixth seed Franklin Regional, TJ produced a dominant showing, prevailing 9-3. Both Allan and Jake Stock recorded hat tricks, with Stock also dishing out a pair of assists, while Allan had one helper. Furthermore, Andrew Oliver amassed a goal and three assists. Former NHL player John Zeiler, a graduate of TJ, is the bench boss for the Jaguars.

About the Matchup: The teams split the two regular-season meetings, as PT claimed a 3-2 victory on the road in December, while Thomas Jefferson notched a 5-1 win on the Warriors’ home ice in January. The Jaguars have eliminated Penn-Trafford from the postseason each of the past two years. While Penn-Trafford is in pursuit of its first PIHL Penguins Cup, Thomas Jefferson has won four titles, most recently in 2022.