Uhlyar, Thomas Jefferson hockey team explode out of the gate in PHIL

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson's varsity hockey team opened the PIHL season with an impressive 6-2 win against Mars last week.

Senior forward and captain Zach Uhlyar picked up offensively where he left off last season by netting a hat trick against the visiting Planets.

Forwards Dom Tamburi, Tommy Kimmick and Nick Tamburi accounted for the other three goals for the Jaguars. Kimmick also was credited with three assists.

Goaltender Nick Ripepi stopped 34 shots for the Jaguars, who were outshot, 36-26.

Thomas Jefferson is competing in Section 1 in the PIHL Class A Southwest Conference again this season, along with South Fayette and South Park.

TJ finished 14-8 overall last season, won the division title, and outscored the opposition by a 138-95 overall margin. The Jaguars advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals in 2013-13.

“The team is avoiding setting many goals so as to not look ahead to any destination,” Bill Crousey, Thomas Jefferson's head coach, said. “We are simply going to try and play the best possible hockey we can. If we can do that I believe the we will have a strong season. (We) will rely on its nine seniors to lead the way.”

Senior leadership will be provided by Uhlyar, Nick Tamburi, forward Brendan Mason, defensemen Kevin Ringing, Kevin McCormick, Brian Zovko, Jason Ceccarelli, forward Ryne Surgot and Ripepi.

“This team should be the deepest since I began coaching at TJ. We will roll three lines and use five defenseman, and (we) also have two quality goaltenders,” Crousey said. “The lines aren't set yet due to the fact that a few of the new players are pushing for more playing time. As in the past the team should score goals.”

Thomas Jefferson also waltzed past South Fayette in its second game this season, winning by an 11-2 score last week.

The Jaguars were sparked by Mason, Ringling, Beveridge and Dominic Tamburi, who netted two goals apiece; and Uhlyar, Nick Tamburi and forward Brady Parkinson, with one goal apiece.

Ripepi and Jordan Blosl shared time in the net.

Last season, Uhlyar registered 30 goals and 37 assists to rank third in scoring in Class A. Uhlyar was complemented by Mason's 18 goals and 21 assists.

Crousey also is expecting significant offensive contributions from Nick Tamburi, Mason, Kimmick, Ceccarelli and Parkinson this winter.

“One of the biggest things to watch (this season) will be the play of our third line, which as of now will consist of forwards Ryan Beveridge, John Petras, Dom Tamburi and Danny Harrold,” Crousey said.

“That group will need to give the team quality shifts every game for us to be successful. The question is can we play team defense to keep it out of our net.”

Ringling, McCormick, Brad Delenko and Michael Krieger are the Jaguars' top defensemen.

Ripepi is back in the net as the starting goaltender. Last year, Ripepi posted a 13-8 record, 4.34 goals-against average and .867 save percentage. He also had two shutouts.

“Jordan Blosl gives us two good goalies,” Crousey said.

The Jaguars return to the ice Thursday against Quaker Valley at Bethel Park Blade Runners. Game time is 8:20 p.m.

“My biggest concern is that the team remains hungry like last season,” Crousey said. “We cannot play like we deserve to win. The team needs to play like it wants to win more than ever.”

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

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