Ice in their Veins

Another historic night for the North Allegheny Tigers as they brought home the Penguin Cup.


Photo Courtesy of North Allegheny Sports Network

The Tigers gathered around the Penguin Cup for the fourth time.

The North Allegheny Ice Hockey Team has won the Penguin Cup for the fourth time in program history. On Monday, April 19th, the Tigers defeated the Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 4-1 at the Robert Morris Island Sports Complex.

“It’s been a really long and tough year for everyone on the team, but the wait was 100% worth it,” junior defenseman Ryder Wilson said. 

With head coach Mike Bagnato and assistant coaches Derek Bubb, Andrew Siess, and Dawson Richard behind the bench, the Tigers played an extremely close game, leading by a single goal in the first and second periods. The team killed off three penalties in the second period.

They were then able to pull ahead and score three goals, including one empty netter, in the third period.

Finally, the game was over. Gloves flew in the air as the entire team and coaching staff gathered to congratulate one another on their victory. 

The triumph brought back memories from the last time the Tigers earned the Penguin Trophy in 2019, when they defeated Peters Township 3-0.

This year’s championship, however, felt especially rewarding. At the beginning of the regular season, the Tigers had a disappointing amount of offensive hustle.

“At the start of the season, I did not think we would go very far. This year was a complete surprise,” senior assistant captain Karl Fuchs said. 

But they were able to turn it around when it was time for playoffs.

“[The offense has] grown as players and given us, defenseman, a chance in our own end. They are the reason we were able to beat Peters in the semi-final,” junior Connor Chi explained.

Another key element of the team’s success was their goaltending. Senior Josh Bailey was the net minder.

“He was amazing. He played the biggest role in our success during the playoffs,” Fuchs said. 

Due to COVID-19, the class of 2020 team did not have the opportunity to play in back to back championships. This year’s seniors headed into the playoffs with that in mind.

“I feel a lot of us seniors wanted to win for those guys that didn’t get the chance to,” senior defenseman Matt Gentile said. 

After the championship, the Tigers played in the Class AAA Pennsylvania Cup Championship against Malvern Prep on Saturday, April 24th at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. The game began on a high for the Tigers, but their state championship run was, unfortunately, short-lived. The team fell to Malvern Prep 4-2.

Despite the loss, the seniors will cherish the season.

“I’ll remember the friendships I’ve formed with my teammates, and of course, the final moments and subsequent celebrations,” Gentile concluded. 

Many are saying that the one of the reasons the team was so successful was their senior goaltender, Josh Bailey.  

“He was amazing. He played the biggest role in our success during the playoffs,” Fuchs commented. 

Many stand behind this opinion. North Allegheny Sports Network writer Randy Gore mentioned Bailey in his game summary, calling his performance on the ice “dazzling.” 

It is safe to say that many were dazzled by the entire team’s work and performance as they strived to reach their goals. Their collaboration and excellent teamwork is what made the Tigers your 2021 Penguin Cup champs!