Freeport uses balanced offensive, defensive approach
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When the PIHL season opened, Freeport knew that it had a strong team.
If there was any concern, it was at the goaltending position. But three young goalies — sophomore Dominic DiGiacobbe and freshmen Matt Huston and Katie Hill — have filled that position quite well.
Through 20 games, Huston, DiGiacobbe and Hill were 6-3-1, 5-1 and 4-0, respectively. Huston was ranked No. 3 in Class A with a .901 save percentage through the team's first 20 games.
“I'm pleasantly surprised by (the play of all three),” Freeport coach Dave Hepler said.
Other younger additions to the team also have made an impact.
“We had a bunch of good freshmen that came up and some goal scorers came up and some defensemen came up, as well, and they are learning a lot more things from the veteran players,” Hill said.
“Everyone's contributed and that's what you need to do in a team sport,” Hepler said.
Through 20 games, the Yellowjackets were 15-4-1. The Class A, Section 3 champion — heading into the Penguins Cup playoffs, which began earlier this week — Freeport is a balanced team, not overly powerful on offense or defense.
“We're not trying to be either one of those. We're just trying to be a good solid hockey team every time we go out,” Hepler said.
Forwards Cole Hepler and Gregory Newman led the offense this season, scoring 32 points each through 20 games. On the blue line, Brendon Zack led Freeport's defense.
“I just feel like we have a really good group of kids, and they understand what we're trying to get done and they play together really well,” Dave Hepler said.
Freeport's weakness has been taking too many penalties.
“I'm pretty sure we're one of the most penalized teams in the league,” DiGiacobbe said.
Through Feb. 24, Freeport had the highest number of penalty minutes at 324. Mars was the next with 315.
In some games, Freeport was playing the equivalent of a whole period shorthanded.
“That cannot happen in the playoffs. You got one shot at it, you got three periods and that's it,” Hepler said. “You cannot give the other team an opportunity on the power play to put the puck in the net.”
Freeport has a strong power play, which helped to counteract some of the damage the penalties created. As the end of the regular season approached, Freeport was able to cut down on the number of penalties it was taking.
“It's gone down quite a bit, actually,” Hill said.
The coaching staff has been trying to emphasize the importance of staying out of the penalty box.
“The message is definitely getting across,” said DiGiacobbe.
Hepler said the Yellowjackets would have to play smart, clean hockey in the playoffs.
“They've gotta get into the game, focus, know what's at hand, be relaxed and play their game,” he said.
“As long as we're disciplined and everyone is on their game, (we) feel like we can beat anyone,” DiGiacobbe said.
Amanda Iannuzzi is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
- Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
- Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
- Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
- Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
- Warrant issued for man accused of killing Brookline woman
- Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
- Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
- Emails among Governor Wolf’s aides reveal concern over AG Kane
- Heyl: Longtime disc jockey Jimmy Roach to turn dismissal into brighter times
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin says Latrobe session won’t differ from normal practice