Thomas Jefferson hockey team looking for strong second half
By Joe Sager
Published: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, 9:39 p.m.
It has been seven seasons since a team other than Quaker Valley or Mars has won a PIHL Penguins Cup Class A championship.
Thomas Jefferson hopes to break that trend in 2014.
As usual, the Quakers and Planets sit atop the Class A standings with 20 points, while the Jaguars come out of the holiday break with the fourth-most points (13) and a 6-4-1 record. Their first win of the season was a 6-2 stunner over Mars to open PIHL play.
“Mars is a big win for us to start off the year. It's probably the most complete game we've played,” TJ captain Zach Uhlyar said. “We have lost some games that we felt we could have won.
“We're going into the games knowing we have the talent and drive to win. We have high expectations.”
The Jaguars have nine seniors on their roster and lost just one player from last year's squad, which advanced to the Penguins Cup playoffs but lost to Westmont Hilltop, 4-3, in overtime.
“The seniors have talked about it, and we want to make a statement our last year and be remembered by the putting best team on the ice as possible,” Uhlyar said. “Everybody is driven because this is the year to do it.”
Thomas Jefferson's offense has been productive. The Jaguars' 53 goals rank third behind Mars (72) and Quaker Valley (66).
Nick Tamburi (23 points) and Uhlyar (22) lead the team, and Tommy Kimmick and Brendan Mason have 18 points each.
“Zach and I have been playing together for the past eight or nine years — ever since mites. We play pretty well together,” Tamburi said. “We help each other out. We know where each other is on the ice. When one of us scores, you'll most likely see the other with an assist on the goal.”
While offense is nice, Uhlyar knows the entire team must help goaltenders Nick Ripepi and Jordan Blosl, especially once the postseason arrives.
“Our offense is really talented, and we mesh well together, but everyone has to help out on the defensive end,” he said. “We know we have the scoring power. We want to keep our goals-against as low as possible, and we need the forwards to help out on defense. We've been better, but it still needs to be better.
“Taking penalties has been the one killer, too. We're taking probably five or six a game. That can't happen if we want to be a top team. That's one thing we have to change coming back from the break.”
Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Crousey said he hopes his Jaguars find some consistency in the second half of the season.
“It's one of the things we tried to make clear. We need to come ready to play every night. We can play with the top teams and beat them, but we have to stay focused the whole 51 minutes. If we have a breakdown, it'll go the other way,” Crousey said. “Some of the games, we start slow. It's not a light you can turn on and off. You have to come ready to play. We have to be ready to go as soon as they drop the puck.
“When we're moving the puck and sharing it well and skating and working hard, we're a nice team to watch,” he added. “When things aren't going well, we have bad habit on focusing on the bad instead of pushing ahead.”
Staying healthy is a key for the Jaguars, too.
“We want to make another run in the playoffs,” Crousey said. “We had a couple guys injured for last year's playoff game. We want to stay healthy and play smart.
“If we play our game, we know we can make a run at the Penguins Cup.”
Joe Sager 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.
- Armstrong stops Latrobe to reach PIHL semifinals
- Freeport’s Hepler will continue hockey career in Alaska
- Baldwin hockey captures Open Class championship