Hampton ice hockey begins with Kosick
Rising to the challenge seems to be a theme for the Hampton Talbots hockey team this season.
The seniors are under the direction of their fourth coach in four seasons. Despite that inconsistency, the team saw a 7-0 start to the season turn into a 7-5 record, forcing it to once again to rise to a challenge.
If there was any question to who could step up to help this team get on the right track, coach Matt Ranallo got his answer before he even set foot in the arena with his new team.
“When I was named the head coach, Zach (Kosick) was the first player to reach out to me,” Ranallo said. “He told me he wants to lead this team to a Penguins Cup and wanted to be the captain and that he was a go-to guy … that was important and showed character.”
Kosick's approach was a bit aggressive, but he is totally a team player.
His 19 points, 10 goals and nine assists make him second on the team in scoring, but he shares the credit for all of it.
“I am lucky because I have Ethan (Homitz) and Andrew (Lynch),” Kosick said. “I am not out there doing it myself — I have great chemistry with my linemates. And it is not just our line, we have three strong lines that can score. That is our strength.”
Kosick said playing for his fourth coach in as many seasons was not as difficult as it may sound as he is used to change.
“Matt brought a lot of plays and power-play ideas and defensive (strategy),” Kosick said. “He also organized team meetings, and we did stuff outside of hockey like going to college hockey games together and meeting at teammates houses.”
Kosick hopes all the work and bonding will help get the team back to the Penguins Cup Finals. Kosick was part of the team that played for the Penguins Cup three seasons ago. The Talbots didn't win the game, but the experience left an impression on the young player.
“We had a lot of fans there, and it was cool to play on the Pens' rink,” he said. “This year we had some goals to win the St. Margaret's Tournament (where we made the semifinals) but we really want to get back to Consol (Energy Center). We all realize what it takes, and we have a motto, ‘the scrappy Talbots,' and our hope is to get to the cup game and win it all.”
Ranallo said Kosick brings confidence and desire to the team.
“When I need to get a point across, he is the guy I can count on to lead by example and show the team how to do something,” Ranallo said. “He is a big, strong kid who plays the game right and leads the team.”
Kosick tries to keep the team at a good level — not too high and not too low. He keeps the team focused on the first step to reaching its goal, which is making the playoffs.
To help the team get better, he knew he had to improve his individual game. So he made a point to cut back on his penalties, wok on his shot and get better on his back-checking to help out the defense.
“Zach is strong in puck pursuit,” Ranallo said. “Even his fore-checking, carrying the puck into the zone. He has a knack for getting the puck on his stick, and when he has the puck, that's when magic happens.”
In addition to his role on the Hampton team, Kosick plays a split season of AAA hockey for the Shaha Panthers.
The split-season team gets underway before high school hockey starts, takes a hiatus during the high school season and resumes for a tournament once high school hockey has concluded.
Kosick likes this format because he can have the best of both worlds and has several teammates and friends joining him.
He is hopeful that hockey is in his future when his season with Hampton concludes. He is looking into college hockey or trying out for another team.
Hampton will be back in action Monday, Jan. 13, when the Talbots host the Moon Tigers at 9:10 p.m. at Ice Connection.
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.