Return to Consol Energy Center motivates Hampton hockey team
Cam Raidna wasn't around for the 2010-11 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League season, but Hampton's senior goaltender has heard plenty about the Talbots' 5-0 loss to Mars in the Class A Penguins Cup final at Consol Energy Center.
“Just hearing them say how much fun it was, how it was something bigger than anything they've experienced before,” said Raidna, who lived in North Carolina at the time. “That makes me want to get down there even more and help them finish the job.”
Depth spread across three lines, the return of left wing Andrew Lynch and the steadiness of Raidna in goal have Hampton (4-0) thinking more like the group that dressed in a professional locker room than the one that finished 10-7-2 and lost in the PIHL Class AA semifinals a season ago.
Even with a first-year coach in Matt Ranallo, little has deterred Hampton from creating some lofty goals.
“The day I was named coach, we called a team meeting and went through everybody's goals for the season,” Ranallo explained. “All the goals were the same. They all wanted to win a Penguins Cup.”
To make that happen, Hampton will need plenty of goals from the top line of senior center Zach Kosick, junior right wing Ethan Homitz and Lynch, a junior left wing who sat out last season to concentrate on travel hockey.
Kosick scored 34 goals and finished with 52 points in 2012-13. Along with Anthony Franks and Cullen McMahon of Chartiers Valley, he's one of the top returning point producers in Class AA. Homitz contributed 18 goals and 40 points.
The line had 24 points during wins over Erie Cathedral Prep, Armstrong and North Hills, with Homitz and Kosick scoring five goals apiece.
“I've seen shifts where he's decided he's going to score a goal that shift and sure enough he'll score a goal,” Ranallo said of Kosick. “When he's determined, there's not much that can stop him. I've seen him take over shifts, periods and games.”
The second line features senior Eric Leya, junior Will Maguire (three goals) and junior Ryan Hornung. Freshman Justin Weinbrenner, junior Mike Stritzinger and sophomore Luke Cirlingione comprise the third line.
Senior Jackson Baker, junior Emmett Clark and senior Zach Twerdok are Hampton's top defenseman.
“Our team's not just a one-line team; we're pretty deep,” Kosick said. “We have three really strong lines.”
And an outstanding goaltender.
Raidna, who's had a winning record each of his three years as a starter, has a career-best .919 save percentage and a goals-against average (2.50) that's close to his previous best of 2.45, achieved during the regular season of his sophomore year.
“Cam's focus has been so much stronger,” Ranallo said. “He's a great communicator on the ice, always directing our defense — letting them know where the pressure's coming from.
“He excels at moving the puck forward. Sometimes having him is like having a third defenseman on the ice, a little bit like Martin Brodeur.”
But while Raidna might be busy impersonating the New Jersey Devils legend, Kosick spent part of this offseason in the role of a salesman, recruiting Lynch to play high school hockey again.
“We told him if Hampton hockey has one year to win it, this year would definitely be the year.”