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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Dylan Trombetta and Rob Behling both won Penguins Cup and state championships last season.

Both are hoping for repeat performances this year.

Pine-Richland's Trombetta and Mt. Lebanon's Behling join Chad Fritz of Richland and Morgan Nickerson of Meadville as the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Highmark Players of the Month for December. All four were honored at Tuesday night's Penguins game against the New York Islanders.

In the North Division, Trombetta recorded 10 goals and 19 points in five games for the Rams, last year's Class AA Penguins Cup and Pennsylvania Cup champs.

"It's a great honor. My brother got it last month, so it was my goal to get it this month," he said. "I am pretty happy to get it."

A sophomore forward, he registered two four-goal games in December for unbeaten Pine-Richland (13-0).

"We're doing well right now. We're undefeated," Trombetta said. "Hopefully, we go through the rest of the season undefeated and keep it going in the playoffs and win another state championship."

In the South Division, junior goaltender Behling posted a 4-1 record and .600 goals against average through five games. Against top competition, two of his four wins were shutouts. During the month, he stopped 95 of 98 shots.

"It's a great honor, but when a goalie wins this award, it's a lot about the team," he said. "I have a great team in front of me, Obviously, we won the state championship last year and this year is just a continuation of that."

It is his first season taking over the starting goaltending reins for the Blue Devils, who won the Class AAA Penguins Cup and Pennsylvania Cup championships a year ago.

"We're definitely not as good as we were last year, but we're going to keep the bar at where it was and we're going to try to defend our state championship," Behling said.

Fritz, a junior center excelled in the East Division with seven goals and nine points in three games. Last month, he averaged 3.0 points per game for Richland.

"It's a great honor. I couldn't have done it without my coach and my team and the support of my family," he said. "We're not doing so great as a team, but everyone is working really hard and that's all anyone can ask for."

In the West Division, junior Nickerson recorded 11 goals and 18 points in five games with Meadville. He scored two game-winning goals and notched three hat-tricks. In December, he averaged 3.6 points per game.

"It's a great thrill. It's phenomenal that the Penguins support youth hockey in the area. Everybody looks up to them and it's a great way for them to give back to the community," he said. "We had a disappointing loss in the playoffs last year, but everyone came back determined in the offseason and worked really hard, so we'll see how things go this year."

The Penguins honor high school hockey players of the month four times each season.



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