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Hampton hockey teams answers any questions about ability

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:51 p.m.
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Hampton's Zach Kosic (11) tries to maintain possession of the puck as Gateway's Ryan Taylor defends during their game October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Hampton's Eric Leya (4) carries the puck into the corner while being trailed by Gateway's Zach Dusch during their game October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Hampton's Eric Leya (4) and Ryan Hornung break down the ice during their game against Gateway on October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA

As former Hampton assistant Anthony Scolieri was preparing for his first season as head coach this fall, he had a few questions that needed to be answered.

Could the Talbots successfully compete in Class AA?

Would they adjust to their new head coach?

Would the team embrace a defensively responsible mindset?

Could winger Ethan Homitz emerge as a difference-maker as a sophomore?

But there were at least two things Scolieri had no question in his mind about: Zach Kosick's scoring and Cam Raidna's goaltending.

“I expected this out of Zach Kosick,” Scolieri said of the player who is averaging more than three points per game. “And he's been delivering.

“And with Cam, that was one way you knew that, no matter what else is happening around him, Cam would keep us in games.”

Kosick, a junior, is an alternate captain who is third in PIHL Class AA in points. Raidna, also a junior, leads the classification in shutouts with three. He is third in Class AA with a 2.60 goals-against.

“He's a phenomenal goaltender who battles so hard each and every night,” Scolieri said. “I think Cam can play college hockey at some level. He's just a great kid.”

Raidna is blessed with great quickness and puck-handling skills, has a good glove hand and is difficult to beat down low.

“It makes such a difference for a team when you have a guy like Cam back there,” Kosick said. “We're at an advantage right away because we think we have the best goalie out there.”

Hampton just might have the top scorer, too. Kosick has 25 goals in 13 games to rank second in Class AA. He also has 15 assists.

“Zach has a bigger body and knows how to use his wingspan to his advantage,” Scolieri said. “And he has a very good shot.”

Kosick and Raidna are primary reasons why Hampton (8-4-1) has the fourth-best record in PIHL Class AA. Only four teams have allowed fewer goals; only five have scored more.

To that latter end, Homitz has proved to be a perfect complement for Kosick on the Talbots' top line. Homitz has 16 goals and 16 assists through 13 games.

“His play has been kind of a revelation,” said Scolieri. “He's come into his own as a sophomore. He makes things happen all the time.”

Senior Eric Leya (24 points in 13 games) and sophomore Ryan Hornung (14 points) each have spent time on the top line with Kosick and Homitz. Senior Joe Vita, an alternate captain, is another one of the Talbots' top forwards.

Team captain Andy Coyle (13 points in 13 games) leads a defense that also includes senior alternate captain Sean McDermott, junior Jackson Baker and sophomores Emmett Clark, Nico Katsafanas and Josh Jan.

Scolieri still longs for the Talbots to tighten up the consistency in their defensive game, noting that Class AA is much deeper in terms of quality teams. Hampton was a Penguins Cup semifinalist in Class A last season.

“If we can keep possession of the puck in the offensive zone and show a renewed commitment to the forecheck,” Scolieri said, “we'll be tough to beat.”

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