Freeport juniors to skate in hockey showcase
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Freeport juniors Cole Hepler and Brendon Zack launch javelins and baseballs this time of year, but pucks still beckon.
Hepler, Freeport's top returning javelin thrower, and Zack, an infielder for the Yellowjackets, will shirk their spring sports responsibilities during the next few days to participate in America's Hockey Showcase at Robert Morris University's Island Sports Center as members of Team Pittsburgh. Both hope ice time in front of college and junior club recruiters will help them in their pursuit of next-level hockey.
The 20-team, pool-play tournament, which features all-star squads of seniors and juniors from across the country, begins Wednesday morning and continues through Sunday. Team Pittsburgh opens with Team New York at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“I knew it was just a great opportunity to get noticed by whoever I might choose to go play for,” said Hepler, whose brother, Zach, a 2007 Freeport graduate, participated in the event.
“Any opportunity that comes, I'll pick the best from what is offered. I hope to play in the same league my brothers did, the (Ontario Junior Hockey League), or maybe the (North American Hockey League), where a couple of my teammates from the past couple years will be playing.”
Hepler, a forward, is hardly an unknown in Pennsylvania hockey circles. He has led Freeport in points each of the past three seasons — this winter, he finished with 22 goals and 16 assists. And he belongs to one of the area's premier amateur teams, the Class AAA Pittsburgh ViperStars.
But a few days of competition with standouts from Florida, California, New England and pretty much everywhere in between shouldn't hurt his efforts to garner attention.
Zack, who had 14 goals and nine assists as a defenseman for the Yellowjackets this past season, hopes the Showcase might serve as his big break.
“I know I still have another year of hockey. I figured they get to know my name, and hopefully I make Team Pittsburgh next year, so they'll see me again and realize, ‘Oh, this kid has talent,' ” Zack said. “I'd go anywhere to play hockey. I love this game.”
Both survived a three-day tryout in late March that involved about 80 players from the Pittsburgh area in order to make the team.
Team Pittsburgh coach Lou Biancaniello hopes he and his staff picked a group that will again contend for the tournament championship — Team Pittsburgh made the finals each of the last two seasons. But the ultimate goal, he said, is to burnish the reputations of Team Pittsburgh's players.
Both Hepler and Zack plan to catch the eye of busy recruiters without relying on selfish or showy play.
“I'll try not to do too much to impress the scouts,” Zack said. “You end up making big mistakes instead of little mistakes that everybody makes. You get noticed for the wrong reasons, I guess.”
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.
- PIHL Class AA power Armstrong retools as it readies for season
- Armstrong hockey aiming for return to Consol
- Quaker Valley hockey team joins Class AA after years of success in Class A
- Service project brings Quaker Valley hockey team together
- Seneca Valley hockey team hopes to maintain momentum from strong preseason