Northern area represented well in PIHL All Star Game
The PIHL All-Star game is one of the most highly anticipated events of the high school hockey season. The best of the best are on hand to play, and the game often is a magnet for players across the area to come out and enjoy some elite-level hockey.
The game will be played at the RMU Island Sports Center with the Open Division playing at 11 a.m.; the Class A game at 1 p.m.; the Class AA game at 3 p.m. and the Class AAA at 5 p.m.
As usual, a great deal of talent will be showcased from the Seneca Valley, Pine-Richland, Hampton and Shaler school districts. From Seneca Valley, coach Anthony Racco, forward Chris Marziotto and goalie Tanner Pfeffer were selected to the team. Forward Luke Reed and defenseman Jacob Sarachine are listed as alternates for the Class AAA Southwest team. The Southwest team will face the Northeast team, where Shaler forwards Michael Klena, Luke Grossman, defensemen Joe Dorow and Cameron Stott have earned positions on the team. Matthew Bour, a defenseman, was chosen as an alternate.
“I appreciate being a part of the team, but I am more proud of my team,” Racco said. “The players (who were selected) deserve to represent our team. The players are excited and welcome the opportunity.”
Pfeffer said he thinks the game is a special one, because there are all good players getting recognized.
“I have played against a lot of these kids before, so this will be cool to be a part of this,” Pfeffer said.
Being a goalie in these all-star games can lead to a busy afternoon. The scores often are high as many players are looking to get a goal in the game as opposed to playing the usual amount of defense. Pfeffer said he is ready for whatever workload is set before him.
“I pretty much know there will be little defense, but that just means I will get the chance to make some big saves,” Pfeffer said. “I just want to make sure I don't let too many get by me when I am out there.”
Marziotto said this game will be a first for him.
“It's awesome, because this is my first all-star game,” he said. “This is a big thing for me. Getting to have Tanner and my coach is good, and I know there are a lot of great kids out there.”
Marziotto is so excited, he is already thinking about the possibility of getting to play next season's game, as well.
Grossman said that it is the coaches that pick the players, so that in and of itself is a huge honor for him.
“To be picked as one of the top forwards in the section makes all the hard work worth it,” Grossman said. “Getting to go with Mike, Joe and Cam is great because we are all good friends. It's special to play with such talented players.”
Grossman said he was surprised to be selected, because he was not expecting it.
“I wasn't really paying attention to the announcement, but then I heard my name, and that sort of snapped me back,” he said.
Klena said that after playing hockey since he was a sixth grader, it is nice to be a part of this game and that all the extra ice time he logged over the summer and with his Triple A team helped.
“I hope I get a chance to play with my Shaler line,” Klena said. “The speed of the game is going to be great.”
While the local Class AAA squads will be pitted against each other, Class AA action will feature division rivals Hampton and Pine-Richland teaming up for a change.
Anthony Scolari, Hampton's coach, and Mike Bagnato, the man in charge of the Rams, will be on the benches as allies.
Joining Scolari will be forwards Zach Kosick and Joe Vita, defenseman Andy Coyle. Ethan Homitz was selected as an alternate forward.
For the Rams, Zach Richey, Dillon Kessy and Ryan Cole made it as forwards. Kyle Cunningham made it on defense, and Brendon Bagnato as a goalie.
“Obviously it is a pleasure to coach so many talented players,” Scolari said. “The Northeast roster is pretty formidable. It is nice to have some of my players, and although we didn't get everyone in we wanted, we got a chance to see some of our seniors rewarded.”
Scolari is hopeful Homitz will get bumped up but said Vita, Coyle and Kosick deserved the invite.
“This will be a fun day,” Scolari said. “It's a fun reward for the players. The coaches support the players and want to make sure it is a good time in a safe, respectful game.”
Kosick got a chance to play in the game last year, and he said it was fun.
“To be around all those good players, it's easy to put the puck in the net with all the hard workers out there,” Kosick said. “It will be fun to play with some of my Hampton teammates, but it will be fun to play with the other guys, too.”
Vita said this is a great event, and it is great because the league really cares about the players.
“I am happy to be on the team, but even more happy to represent Hampton. Any of my Hampton teammates could have made it. I feel blessed.”
Vita said it is fun to meet new people, and getting the chance to play with and against some big-time prospects is pretty cool, especially when a few years down the road they are playing for big college or even pro programs.
Mike Bagnato agreed with Scolari in that the day will be fun for everyone involved, and he is proud of his team and players who were named to the squad.
“All five of our guys are instrumental to the success of our team,” Mike Bagnato said.
“This is the most complete Pine-Richland team we have had. I am not trying to rush this year at all …”
The end of the year probably means the last time he will coach his son, Brendon, and long-time player Richey.
“The message is no pressure and have fun,” Mike Bagnato said.
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.