ShareThis Page

Hempfield hockey to lean on veteran defense

| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 2:09 p.m.
Shaler's Jason Fischerkeller skates against Hempfield's Ethan Grant during a game Oct. 18, 2016, at Alpha Ice Complex.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler's Jason Fischerkeller skates against Hempfield's Ethan Grant during a game Oct. 18, 2016, at Alpha Ice Complex.
Shaler's Mitchell Werry skates around Hempfield's Jake Anderson during a game Oct. 18, 2016, at Alpha Ice Complex.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler's Mitchell Werry skates around Hempfield's Jake Anderson during a game Oct. 18, 2016, at Alpha Ice Complex.

Hempfield's hockey team is set on the blue line.

The Spartans just hope their defense leads to some offense as the PIHL season progresses.

Seniors Jake Anderson, Ethan Grant, Drew Mull, Kane Mills and sophomore Trent Gray are back on defense, and junior Isaiah Forsyth is new to the program. In addition, goaltender Nolen Ferree is back in the crease.

“It's a big plus having all that experience,” Hempfield coach Denny Zeravica said. “We have six solid defensemen. I think it'll be a big help to us, especially early in the season until the forwards get their feet wet. If we have to play close games, we have the experience in the back end to help us.”

Hempfield thought it would have experience at forward, too. However, some players received opportunities to play at higher levels.

“We only had two seniors last year,” Zeravica said. “All these top scorers I thought I had coming back, now they're all away playing somewhere else. It's great for them and I am proud of them, but now it's more opportunity for younger players.”

Jared Gerger, who paced the squad with 27 goals and 39 points, returns to lead the way.

“Jared had a fantastic year last year and looks to be a leader and one of the top dogs, not only on our team, but in the league,” Zeravica said.

Nick Koziara (7 goals, 19 points) finished fourth in team scoring, and Matt Bartus (5, 12) was fifth. Those two return to add experience up front. Connor Lawrence is another veteran forward. Matt Traczynski, Christian Konieczka and Nick Lippa are some of the newcomers expected to make an impact.

“They'll get their opportunities this year. I really like what I've seen,” Zeravica said. “As the season goes on and they get more familiar with the game at this level, I think they'll fit right in and help pick up some of the scoring punch we lost with the guys leaving.”

They got their first taste of varsity hockey in the Greensburg Central Catholic preseason tournament. Hempfield went 2-1. Its loss came to South Park, 1-0, but the team had a 39-20 edge in shots.

“I thought we played pretty well in that tournament, and it was a great experience for us,” Zeravica said. “The game we lost was really physical. It gave these young guys a taste of what it'll be like during the PIHL season.”

The Spartans have lost in the Penguin Cup semifinals three of the last four years. They hope to get back — and go deeper — this year.

“Some of these guys have played in a couple semifinal games. They know how close we've been and the hard work it takes,” Zeravica said. “I think a lot of these seniors, especially, are very confident in the team we have and feel there's no reason why we can't be back in same position this season.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.