Senior-laden Plum hockey squad ready for AA battles
By Michael Love
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
The Plum varsity ice hockey team lost only two seniors from last year's squad that qualified for the PIHL Class AA playoffs.
The Mustangs, who finished 11-10 in the regular season, bowed out in the quarterfinals, but not until after a spirited effort in a 7-3 loss to Chartiers Valley on the Colts' home ice at the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center.
Plum kicked off the playoffs with a 4-3 win against North Hills.
A lot of talent returns for the Mustangs, including a plethora of senior leadership, and second-year head coach Dave Stonebraker said he likes the way his team has come together only a couple of days before the start of the regular season.
“We will be counting on the seniors to be productive on the ice and leaders on the ice, the bench and in the locker room,” Stonebraker said. “There are leaders in all phases on the ice.”
The 10 seniors on this year's team are forwards Andrew Walters, Jordan Gable, Todd Ruggiero, James D'Andrea and Andrew Pagano; defensemen Nick Sciulli, Derek Zgibor, Dom Macioce and Zach Crawford; and goaltender Taylor Cestra.
“Like last year, the goal is to get all the talent to mesh enough to produce victories,” Stonebraker said.
Walters finished second in scoring in all of Class AA last year with 34 goals. He added 12 assists.
Gable led the team in assists (20), and he scored 10 goals.
Sciulli and Zgibor return as starters on defense. Crawford played on the Plum junior varsity team last year, while Macioce is new to the Mustangs hockey program.
Cestra returns between the pipes and is a third-year starter.
“Taylor is a seasoned veteran with a lot of experience,” coach Stonebraker said. “She's a top-notch goalie who has helped us win some big games. She will look to continue that trend this year.”
Backing up Cestra again this season is sophomore James Borriello.
“There are a number of good goalies in the Plum pipeline,” coach Stonebraker said.
Coach Stonebraker said sophomore forward Dave Stonebraker, junior forward Joe Randazzo, sophomore forward T.J. Kelsesky and junior defender Zach Kuhn also are expected to make an impact this season.
Randazzo was an impact player on offense last year, as he scored 13 goals (second to Walters) and was third on the team with nine assists. Kuhn and Stonebraker added five and four goals, respectively.
Kelsesky, who played in four regular-season varsity games last season, is a nephew of Plum native and Columbus Blue Jackets star R.J. Umberger.
Nick Mardirossian, who would have been a senior forward on this year's Plum team, was selected to play Junior B hockey this season with the New York Apple Core organization based on Long Island.
Apple Core plays in the Empire Junior B Hockey League.
Plum 2012 graduate Jake Kuhn is playing as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh.
“One of the goals of the program is the development of talent and skills so a player can go on to play Junior hockey or in college,” coach Stonebraker said.
Plum kicks off its season on Monday against Moon at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington. The opening faceoff is set for 8:20 p.m.
The Mustangs then will play Bishop Canevin on Nov. 1 at 7:10 p.m. at the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center.
“The first week will be a daunting task for the players,” coach Stonebraker said. “Both Moon and Bishop Canevin are great challenges. The kids will have the task of coming out ready to play.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.