Hockey: 2017 East Season Recap

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Nolan Puhala had an unforgettable season and he carries his Plum teammates along for the ride.

In his final year, the senior forward led the entire PIHL in goals scored with 39 and his 62 points were second only to Pat O'Neal of Indiana in Class 1A despite playing in only 17 of his team's 19 games as he helped Plum to its first Penguins Cup title since 1989 with a 6-1 victory over surprise finalist Latrobe.

Puhala had two goals and five points against the Wildcats and scored the team's only goal in a 3-1 loss to Downingtown East in the state championship game.

Having one Penguins Cup title is nice. Winning two in a row, well that's something special.

It's also what Franklin Regional did this season as the Panthers were the only team able to defend their 2016 title.

And what a season the Panthers had.

Franklin Regional gave up just 17 goals in regular season games and that includes five in their only loss against Bishop McCort. More impressive, 11 of those 17 goals came in their final three regular season games.

Scoring against Franklin Regional was a little easier in the playoffs, but it had enough offense to pull it out. The Panthers trained late in the PIHL Class A Penguins Cup semifinals against Thomas Jefferson, but scored three goals in the final 3:15 to make it into the finals against East Division rival Indiana.

Madison Barker of Indiana became the first female goaltender to start in a Penguins Cup final, but she couldn't win as the Panthers pulled away with a 6-1 win and got a rematch with West Chester Bayard Rustin in the state finals.

This time the game was much closer and Franklin Regional had ample opportunities to pull it out, but the Panthers lost, 2-1, on a goal by Matt Owens at 3:07 of overtime.