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TJ's forecast looks bright for 2013-14 PIHL season

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The early prognosis for the 2013-14 for the Thomas Jefferson varsity hockey team evokes optimism.

This past season, the Jaguars skated to first place in section play, finished with a 14-8 regular-season record, and advanced to the PIHL Class A playoffs.

Thomas Jefferson dropped a tough 4-3 decision in overtime to Westmont Hilltop in the first round of the playoffs.

But with no less than nine juniors expected back for 2013-14, head coach Bill Crousey is anticipating even better results next season.

“The TJ hockey team took great strides in learning what it takes to be a good team this season,” he said. “The players gave the necessary effort to be a winning team all year. Having a winning season and claiming our section title brought great pride to our team.

“Next season has the potential to be even better. I plan to build the team around the entire (junior) class. However, the players need to realize how difficult it will be to take the next step. They played good hockey all year, but they will need to play at a higher level next year to go further in the playoffs.”

The junior members of the 2012-13 squad included the Jaguars' two leading scorers in forwards Zach Uhlyar and Brendan Mason, who clicked for 67 and 40 points, respectively.

Uhlyar netted 30 goals and 37 assists, while Mason accounted for 18 goals and 22 assists.

Uhlyar, the Jaguars' team captain, was honored as a PIHL player of the month for November.

He also was selected to PIHL Class A Southwest Conference all-star squad.

Two other junior forwards, Nick Tamburi and Brian Zovko, registered 33 and 16 points, respectively, while junior defenseman Kevin Ringling had 19 points.

Nick Ripepi, a junior goaltender, accounted for 13 wins, a 4.34 goals-against average, .867 save percentage, plus two shutouts.

Ringling, an assistant captain, and Ripepi were PIHL all-stars, while sophomore forward Tommy Kimmick was an alternate for the all-star showcase.

Kimmick finished as the team's third-leading scorer with 35 points — 23 goals and 12 assists

Rounding out the junior class on the 2012-13 squad at Thomas Jefferson were forwards Rynne Surgot and Jason Ceccarelli, along with defenseman Kevin McCormick.

The lone senior on this year's team was forward Matt Bowers, an assistant captain who recorded 23 goals and 12 assists, good for 35 points.

“Matt was a PIHL all-star this season, and provided great leadership (for TJ),” Crousey said. “However, there are many among our strong junior class that can fill his void.”

Along with Kimmick, forwards Brady Parkinson and Ryan Beveridge, defenseman Brad Delenko and goaltender Maxwell Stanton are sophomores who are expected to make an impact next season.

Mike Krieger, a forward, and John Petras, a defensman, are top freshmen prospects for the Jaguars.

The local squad went into the PIHL playoffs on a four-game winning streak.

The local squad outscored Serra Catholic, Deer Lakes, South Fayette and Freeport by a 35-19 overall difference down the season's home stretch.

The team's two shutouts came against Bishop McCort and South Park.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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