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Norwin graduates boost Pitt-Greensburg hockey team

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 4:02 p.m.
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Norwin graduates (from left) Nico Vecchio, Anthony Maraodi, Dan Merz and Dan DeMarchi pose with the trophy after the Pitt-Greensburg hockey team won the College Hockey East championship on Feb. 23, 2014, at Center Ice Arena.

Norwin graduates Anthony Maraodi, Dan Merz and Nico Vecchio don't always skate together for the Pitt-Greensburg hockey team. But when the Bobcats need a spark, coach Tim Baldwin puts the three together in the hopes of creating one.

More often than not, it works.

Maraodi, Merz and Vecchio finished the season as the top three scorers for Pitt-Greensburg (21-6), which recently won its first College Hockey East championship and will compete this weekend in the Collegiate Ice Hockey Association's national playoffs in Newark, Ohio.

“It's nice to get out there together because we all know each other and know how each other plays,” Merz said. “That chemistry definitely helps when we're in a pinch and need a goal or a big play or something like that.”

The Norwin ties run deep at Pitt-Greensburg, which is in the midst of the longest postseason run in program history. Defenseman Dan DeMarchi, another Norwin graduate, also plays for Pitt-Greensburg. Baldwin lives in Irwin.

“They've been wonderful this year,” Baldwin said. “Everyone across the board has stepped up to the plate and done what they had to do. Having Norwin boys on the team has definitely made a difference.”

While Maraodi, Merz and Vecchio are the team's top scorers, DeMarchi is a shutdown defenseman.

“He's a great defenseman,” Baldwin said. “He's not necessarily the quickest one out there, but he makes the play every time.”

After losing in overtime of the CHE championship game last season, Pitt-Greensburg had a more successful experience in 2013-14.

Playing a schedule that included nonconference games against the likes of Robert Morris and the University of Pittsburgh, the Bobcats finished 19-6 in the regular season and outscored opponents, 247-103. Pitt-Greensburg then defeated Carnegie Mellon, 9-7, in the first round of the CHE playoffs and Community College of Allegheny County, 11-5, in the championship game.

“It was a lot of fun for everyone,” said Merz, a freshman. “A lot of the guys on the team have been there for years now, and they've been really close to winning it the past couple years. It was nice to win it for them. This being my first year, it was really nice to get it, and hopefully we can get it a few more times.”

The Bobcats will open the CIHA playoffs at 2:10 p.m. Thursday with a game against Medaille College. Although offense remains the team's specialty — Pitt-Greensburg is averaging nearly 10 goals a game — Merz said the players are focusing more on defense in the days leading up to the game.

The team is taking a businesslike approach to the game but is hoping to have fun as well, Merz said.

“We obviously want to win, but we obviously want to have fun when we're going, too,” Merz said. “That's been the main thing with our team this year: We have fun everywhere we go. It's going to be hard keeping the fun down in order to get down to business and get to the national championship.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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