Pittsburgh Hockey Digest


Lamison provides scoring from the blue line for Westmont Hilltop

Michael Lamison looks for a pass in the PIHL Class-A All Star Game at Alpha Ice Complex Jan. 29, 2017. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The Flood City is no stranger to the sport of hockey. The Cambria County War Memorial Arena was constructed in 1950, and in the interim years has hosted a succession of minor-league and junior teams. It also served as the backdrop for the movie Slap Shot and hosted the 2015 Hockeyville, USA celebration of the sport, which featured a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

But the War Memorial isn’t just a venue for the highest levels of the sport. Since 1980, Westmont Hilltop High School, located in suburban Johnstown, has fielded a varsity hockey team. This year’s team doesn’t necessarily feature the same amount of antics as a Slap Shot vignette, but they’re drawing attention regardless.

The 8-6-2 Hilltoppers sit comfortably in playoff position with two games remaining in their Single-A Eastern Conference schedule. With just 62 goals on the season, Westmont Hilltop isn’t blessed with a prodigious offense, but they’re getting by just fine, mostly thanks to a big contribution from the blue line.

Senior Michael Lamison, a small but quick defenseman for the Hilltoppers, has made a remarkable impact for his team this season. by helping to spark the offense for a team in need of scoring. A coast-to-coast defenseman, Lamison utilizes his speed to push the puck up the ice and generate scoring chances. Lamison is so fast, in fact, that he can beat multiple defenders through the neutral zone and get the puck to the net.

Even after exerting tremendous amounts of energy to create offense, Lamison still is able to backcheck quickly to the defensive zone to break up any odd-man advantage. Lamison is aware that he’s dangerously quick and noted that his skating is something he constantly works on.

“You have to be a good skater to be a good hockey player,” said Lamison. “I always try to improve my skating and be as fast as I can on the ice.”

Skating isn’t the only thing that Lamison has improved on. Justin Arcurio, an assistant coach for Westmont Hilltop, raved about the many different aspects of the game that Lamison has progressed on.

“I think Michael’s vision is his greatest quality,” said Arcurio. “He’s developed a lot over the years with sort of his awareness on the ice. He has such a great work ethic and has really learned to work in the corners.”

With all of these great defensive abilities, it’s a surprise that the original intention for Lamison was to play offense.

“Michael isn’t a defenseman by trait and is really a forward by nature,” said Arcurio.

The scoresheet does show some gaudy scoring statistics. With 8 goals and 20 points in only 15 games this season, Lamison is currently second on his team in scoring.


Lamison is a sneaky player. If you take his eyes off of him, he’ll have the puck in the net before you know it. Being a smaller player, the opposition can tend to forget about him on the blue line. Lamison said that his teammates are responsible for him being able to take advantage of those chances.

“We’ve developed great chemistry over the years and the guys sort of know where I’m going to be,” said Lamison. “I try to rely on my positioning a lot.”

While he’s a smart player in his positioning, Lamison also isn’t afraid to lay his body into an opposing player. But Arcurio thinks that Lamison could add a little more nastiness to his game — or just take his city’s most famous hockey export to heart.

“I think that he needs to learn to be a little more mean sometimes,” Arcurio said. “Yes, he’ll check someone on occasion and makes good hits, but he’s almost too afraid to hurt someone. Sometimes he just needs to throw the body and not worry about the other player.”

Regardless of how he checks, Lamison has been a tremendous leader for the Hilltoppers. From the back end of the ice, Lamison leads by example. Arcurio has worked with Lamison over the summer and has admired the work ethic that he displays.

“I’ve worked with him three to four days each week and can honestly say that he is one of the hardest working players that I’ve ever seen,” Arcurio said. “There’s no quit in this kid. You say something once and he does it. We’ve really taken it for granted just great if a player he is.”


With just a few games left in his senior year, Lamison is trying to enjoy his final days as a Hilltopper.He recently attended the PIHL Single-A All-Star Game along with teammate Nathan Shorto, representing his team in the league’s best-on-best competition.

“It was a great opportunity to play with the best players in the league,” Lamison said. “It was also a great chance to meet some of the other guys from other teams that I normally never get to talk to in a season.”

Lamison isn’t exactly sure of what life after hockey will bring. If all goes well, he would love to try out for a junior league team and continue his hockey career there. If not, Lamison hopes to attend college and remain involved with the sport. With a player as hard working and passionate as him, it’s impossible to imagine him away from hockey for too long.

“I love it here,” he said. “I have great teammates and I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.”

To Top