You can call them the Cardiac ’Cats.
Latrobe’s Jeff Rossi found the back of the net 1:19 into overtime to give the Wildcats a 3-2 win over Franklin Regional in the 84 Lumber PIHL Penguins Cup Class AA championship game at Mellon Arena.
The senior gathered in his own rebound in front of the Panthers’ net and lifted a shot into the goal to give Latrobe the victory.
“I couldn’t believe it happened,” Rossi said. “It was crazy.”
The Wildcats (22-3) will play the winner of Saturday’s Flyers Cup Class AA championship game for the state championship on March 29 at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
It was the second-straight overtime win for the Latrobe, which beat West Allegheny, 3-2, in the semifinals a week ago at Mellon Arena.
“Anytime you get into an overtime game, the stakes are so high. When you win it, you feel like you’re on top of the world,” Latrobe coach Ron Markowski said. “We were a No. 2 seed last year when we got knocked out of the playoffs, in overtime. Back in July, when we first started our training camp, we set this as an objective. We felt we could challenge for this Penguins Cup and that was our goal all along. We’re so happy to have achieved it.”
Franklin Regional (20-4-1) got on the scoreboard first when John Miller found the back of the net six minutes into the game when he converted on a two-on-one. Chad White assisted on the goal.
Rossi knotted the score at 1-all 1:20 later. Alex Stahl’s shot clanged off the boards and popped to the far post. Rossi skated in and chipped the puck into the goal. Andrew Ong added an assist.
JeffJoe Regula put the Wildcats on top, 2-1, just 1:37 later as he swept in from the near side and slid the puck into the net.
Ryan Crossey one-timed a shot into the goal with 6:29 left in regulation to knot the game at 2-all. Eugene Mack and Adam Baumgardner had the assists.
Rossi ended it 1:20 into the extra frame with his second rebound goal of the contest.
“You dream for this all your life. Words can’t describe it,” he said.
84 Lumber PIHL Penguins Cup Championship Series
No. 1 Pine-Richland (23-0) vs. No. 6 Bethel Park (16-5-2), 8:30 p.m. at Mellon Arena
Latrobe 3, Franklin Regional 2 OT
No. 1 Mars (21-1-1) vs. No. 2 Quaker Valley (22-2-0), 6:30 p.m. at Mellon Arena.