Thomas Jefferson hockey team looks to build on last season's success
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Thomas Jefferson hockey team is about to find out if there is truth to the old saying that it's harder to stay on top than it is to get to the top.
Last season was a renaissance for the Jaguars. They went 14-9 and finished atop Class A Section 1. That was the first time they had a winning record since the 2007-08 season.
“I believe the biggest reason for the team's big improvement last season was that for almost all the players, it was their third year of learning our system,” coach Bill Crousey said. “They were able to apply what we were practicing and execute that plan during the games most of the time.
“The only way for that to continue is to stay focused on playing our game and not get sucked into the way other teams play. The team still has plenty of players that can score, and the goals should come.”
Perhaps chief among those returning players is Zach Uhlyar. The senior captain was the third-leading scorer in Class A a season ago with 67 points (30 goals, 37 assists).
Tommy Kimmick, Brendon Mason, and Nick Tamburi also should provide offense.
“Every night, I'm going to come play the game and do whatever it takes to win,” Uhlyar said.
While the offense should have no problem scoring, the defense will need to keep the team out of shootouts. Goalie Nick Ripepi led all Class A goalies with 13 wins last season. A five-man rotation of Kevin Ringling, Brad Delenko, Kevin McKormick, Brian Zovko and Michael Krieger will be the defense.
“We struggled at times against the better teams in the league in keeping the puck out of our net,” Crousey said. “The goaltending this season is the strongest we have had since I began coaching three years ago.
“Nick Ripepi is our go-to guy in net and should give the team a chance to win every night.”
After winning the section title, the Jaguars were knocked out in the semifinal round by familiar foe Westmont Hilltop, who won all three of their meetings last season. In order for the Jaguars to remain a top team, Crousey said, they must challenge and beat the best opponents.
“There are plenty of teams in Class A this season where we have to play our best hockey to have a chance,” he said. “We were 1-5 versus the top teams (Quaker Valley, Mars, Westmont Hilltop and Freeport) last season. That needs to change for us to take the next step.”
The Jaguars are off to a good start after Tuesday's 6-2 victory over Mars, a team that lost in the Penguins Cup finals to Quaker Valley a season ago.
Uhlyar registered a hat trick, and Kimmick added a goal and three assists. Ripepi made 34 saves.
The victory provided the team an early boost, as the Jaguars showed no signs of a hangover from last season.
“That win shows us we are capable of doing it again,” Uhlyar said.
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.
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.
- Solarize Allegheny powers up with communities
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Architecture: Pittsburgh history in 10 houses
- Record golf ball collection drives Connellsville native
- Newsmaker: Tamika Duck
- Historic WWII-era landing ship tank docking at Heinz Field
- Cooking Class: Grilled Escarole Salad at E2
- Road Trip! Destination: Cincinnati
- As plants grow and change shape, your home may be due for a landscape update
- Quick grilled chicken doesn’t skimp on flavor
- Timing drives former KHL star Plotnikov