Hempfield hockey team hopes to improve in coach's 2nd season
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It took longer than he hoped, but Hempfield coach Denny Zeravica finally has his team looking how he envisioned.
Hempfield went just 6-20 last year in Zeravica's first season with the PIHL Open Class team. But with a second season of teaching his system, he expects different results.
“It's basically a whole brand new team,” Zeravica said. “My first year here, (the system) was hard to get across. We had a bunch of seniors and they more wanted to do their thing and run the system from their last year.”
There's certainly a learning curve that comes with a new system. The Spartans are fortunate to have last year's captain, senior Mike DoNofrio, returning. With his help, the younger players have been picking up the system in a hurry, which has led to results on the ice.
Hempfield finished second in the Greensburg Central Catholic preseason tournament, winning its first four games before losing to Penn-Trafford of Class AAA.
“It really helped us out with our confidence, and we were able to kind of get a feel for where we were all at as far as playing style,” senior defenseman Zach Iezzi said. “It's definitely helpful to see what we need to work on and where we are as a team going into the season.
Anthony Ciocca led the team in scoring in the tournament after missing the majority of last year due to a tailbone injury. Zeravica expects him to be a top contributor throughout the rest of the season.
“He loves the game, he's talented and he just wants to play,” Zeravica said. “He's a competitor and stubborn at times. If he could be out on the ice every minute, he would.”
The team-wide attacking system Zeravica implemented demands a lot from his players, especially the defensemen. With DoNofrio leaving the defense to play forward this year, Iezzi and fellow senior Billy Hayden will handle the bulk of the defensive work.
“(DoNofrio) is probably the best player I've ever skated with,” Iezzi said. “He is good at every position. He benefits all of the people on the ice whether they're defensemen or offensemen. We're going to lose some talent on the defensive end but we can all pick up the slack.”
The 14-man team, that also features centers Conor Cortazzo and Avery Lavella and sophomore goalie Garrett Ciaramella, will certainly have to battle depth issues. Still, Hempfield is ready for a big leap forward.
“We want to go and win our division. That's our main thing to start with.” Zeravica said. “You know, our kids, they talk about winning every game, and if we do, that's great. I'm glad the kids have those expectations in themselves. I think a lot of that comes from the preseason and how strong we played.”
Hempfield will open the regular season Monday at 9:15 p.m. against Keystone Oaks.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- RB Williams believes he’s making seamless transition to Steelers
- LaBar: Sting making history fighting for WWE title
- Kanye, Cyrus and Minaj provide memorable moments at VMAs
- No certainty for Pirates’ call-up veterans
- Rossi: Continuing legend of Pirate Ray
- ‘Super giant’ natural gas field found off Egypt in Mediterranean Sea
- Flash!: Savor Pittsburgh, Space Art
- Animal welfare groups see opportunities in dialogue about Vick signing
- Steelworkers scoff at ATI earnings claim
- New Kensington firemen honor fallen brother, ‘hero’
- Attorney’s skill, love of sports benefited athletes