Pittsburgh Hockey Digest


Matt Krieger finding scoring touch for TJ

Matt Kreiger carries the puck for Thomas Jefferson against Chartiers Valley at Mt. Lebanon Ice Rink. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

For a hockey team at any level, finding ways to generate consistent offense is vital.

Through their first six games of the PIHL season, the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars are a team that has been able to do just that.

“We have a lot of talented kids up front,” Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Crousey said. “For the first time, we have a legitimate third line that gives those other top six a break. It keeps them fresher and enables them to go longer.”

One of the Jaguars most consistent offensive threats has been junior forward Matt Krieger. However, he is no newcomer to the hockey world. Krieger, who began skating at the age of three and playing at the amateur level at the age of seven, says that the speed and physicality of the game are what immediately captured his attention.

“There’s really nothing else that can compare to the speed and intensity that hockey brings,” Krieger said.

This season, Krieger leads the Jaguars with 11 goals and ranks second with 15 points in only four games. Krieger, who has three hat tricks for TJ this season, ranks third in Class A in the goal-scoring category, but he doesn’t take all the credit for himself.

“It feels good because I have two players on my line with Danny Harrold and Joey Oliver and they do a good job on the wings of being able to get me the puck so I can have solid breakouts,” Krieger said. “They always crash the net and put in the pucks that I don’t have the opportunity to put in and vice versa.”

The Jaguars top three in terms of scoring happen to be a part of the Jaguars first line which consists of Krieger, Oliver and Harrold. Oliver has contributed nine points (four goals, five assists) in five games. Harrold leads the team with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in six games.

Krieger said that he has only played with Harrold for two seasons and wasn’t even on the same line with him at the beginning of last season. However, they were put on the same line in a game last year against Serra Catholic and the rest was history.

“We just clicked ever since,” Krieger said of Harrold. “He is a highly experienced player who can keep up with the speed. He has really nice hands and is an easy person for me to pass to and to receive passes from.”

Not only has Krieger had an impact for the Jaguars, but he also plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite under-18 team.
Krieger says that though playing so much can be physically demanding, he enjoys it.

“Playing for both teams is a good experience because of the friends and the memories you make,” Krieger said. “It’s fun to travel and experience new places, but it’s hard because of how abusive hockey is.”

When it comes to modeling his game after players at the NHL level, Krieger likes to think that he plays a similar style as two of the best players in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise.

“I like to play like Sidney Crosby. I like to be more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, but it’s been the opposite this year,” Krieger said. “These last few years I’ve probably played more like Evgeni Malkin, who is more of a power player and more of a goal scorer.”

Though Krieger still has a whole year in a Jaguars uniform beyond this season, Crousey believes his hockey career can continue at a higher level beyond high school.

“If he keeps working as hard as he does, I’m sure someone on a junior team will give him a chance,” Crousey said. “It’s what he makes of it after that.”

The Jaguars return to the ice on Dec. 1 as they host Beaver at Rostraver Ice Garden. Thomas Jefferson took a 7-6 loss in their last meeting with Beaver, but have hopes that this next meeting will include different results.

“We just need to get back to the way we played against Baldwin and Chartiers Valley, two very good teams,” Crousey said. “We played a lot better defensively and we didn’t make many mistakes in our zone. That [Beaver] game we did and they finished.”

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