Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

PIHL

2019-20 PIHL Season Preview: AA

In August, I sent out a questionnaire to the coaches in the PIHL. Between the questionnaire and watching games during the St. Margaret and Greensburg-Salem tournaments we were able to get enough information from over half of the associations to make a legitimate assessment of the associations. Only associations viewed and returned emails receive previews.

PREVIEWS: Class-BClass-A – Class-AA – Class-AAAPREDICTIONS

TOP TWO TEAMS FROM EACH DIVISION QUALIFY FOR THE POSTSEASON

NORTHWEST

Mars
Home Rink: Baierl Ice Complex, Warrendale
Meadville
The Bulldogs elected to move up to Class-AA after two seasons of Class-A play as Jamie Plunkett believes the depth of Class-2A will be a greater challenge for his young squad. Cohl Weber dons the ‘C’ for the Bulldogs, and junior Jordan McCurdy takes over in the crease.
Home Rink: Meadville Area Recreation Center, Meadville
Moon
Home Rink: Baierl Ice Complex, Warrendale
Quaker Valley
Home Rink: Baierl Ice Complex, Warrendale

SOUTHWEST

Baldwin
A strong end to the 2018-19 season lead the Fighting Highlanders into the season with a renewed energy, and a 2-1 record in the St. Margaret Tournament show that the squad is ready to compete in the tougher of all of the divisions in the upcoming season. A returning Paul Zmuda highlights the team’s leadership.
Home Rink: Ice Castle Arena, Castle Shannon
Montour
The second of the three rising squads, The Spartans come in with the designation of being the Class-A Penguins Cup champions. Returning for Clay Shell’s squad is the majority of the scoring, as prolific scorer Michael Felsing gained size in the off-season as well as newly-minted captain Dustin Geregach.
Home Rink: RMU Island Sports Center, Neville Township
South Fayette
Home Rink: Mt. Lebanon Ice Center, Mt. Lebanon
West Allegheny
An early front-runner in the wide-open Class-AA, Brian Boehm’s Indians continue to impress season-over-season. Joshua Ferry can steal a game, and with tri-captains Nolan, Bandi and Gyergyo at the leadership helm, the final elevated Class-A team heads to a new home at the Island.
Home Rink: RMU Island Sports Center, Neville Township

NORTHEAST

Armstrong
The River Hawks are the first team that is affected by compressor failure at the Belmont Ice Complex, making things a bit more complicated for a squad in the second year of a rebuild. Goaltender RT Bowser starts the season on the injured list. Gavin Grafton looks to hold the ship until the 2018 Penguins Cup winner recovers. Armstrong returns Jacob Townsend, Spencer Wood, Ethan Prugh, Noah Oliver, Maddox Rearic and Hunter Townsend, solidifying the young core.
Home Rink: Belmont Ice Complex, Kittaning
Hampton
The Talbots had one of the strongest second-halves in 2018-19, and were the only team to defeat Pine-Richland in the PIHL last season. Returning is All-Star goaltender Jake McGee, but the senior is sidelined with an injury. Back-up Brendon Frankel proved more than capable during the St. Margaret Tournament. Luke Reiser, Joe Pankowski, Adam Dembowski and Ethan Varley are players who stood out in the preseason.
Home Rink: Frozen Pond Arena, Valencia
Plum
The Mustangs are still a young squad led by senior Daniel Baranowski, Logan Schlegel and Nick Pushic. Nick McMasters had a very strong second-half and looks to build on that. A young defense will be lead by Parker Gable and John Hanlon, while Sam Pine and Joe Miller will be joined and challenged by senior Connor Hutchison in net for Phil Mains squad.
Home Rink: Pittsburgh Ice Arena, New Kensington
Shaler
The Titans are an interesting squad in the upcoming season. In 2018-19, they graduated only their starting goaltender, and are returning all of their skaters. Steve Stayduhar’s squad looks to improve in all aspects of the game, and are led by Adam Baginski, Dominic Cerra, Dylan Sarnowski, Reid Crepps, David Cerra, Sam Stayduhar, and William Junker.
Home Rink: Alpha Ice Complex, Harmar Township

SOUTHEAST

Franklin Regional
Graduation took its toll on the Panthers, but they still maintain major parts in Trent Lunden and Kevin Cakanac and Joe Scherpereel. Nick Zeto had a solid St. Margaret Tournament, as well as Adam Hoff. Jake Fulton takes over in crease for graduated four-year starter Daniel Soltesz.
Home Rink: Center Ice Arena
Greater Latrobe
The Wildcats have been at the top of Class-AA for years, and with returners in Alexander Walker, Gregory Ferri, Alexander Schall, Darrick Hrtyanski and Jared Stein they should remain in that conversation. I’ll flat out state that I expected defenseman Lane Ruffner to be graduated by now, but here we are, talking about his senior year.
Home Rink: Kirk S. Nevin Arena
Hempfield
Home Rink: Kirk S. Nevin Arena
Penn-Trafford
The Warriors return break-out F Jack Hughes as Ryan Mickey and David Tamino are going to be leaned upon to lead a very young team with multiple JV call-ups… but some of the slickest new threads in the league.
Home Rink: Center Ice Arena

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