Mars hockey team packs PIHL All-Star squad
The future looks promising for the Mars hockey team.
The present is not that bad, either.
The Planets have a mix of young and old among their five representatives for the PIHL Class A All-Star Game on Feb. 9 at the RMU Island Sports Center. Sophomores Beau Heakins, Mike McCann and Ian Newman join seniors Nick Makozy and Craig Mazzotta as the Mars representatives on the Southwest Conference squad.
“For sure, it's nice for those guys to be recognized for their hard work and quality play,” Mars coach Steve Meyers said. “Anytime you get five guys in the all-star game, it's a good thing.”
Makozy, Mazzotta and Heakins form one of the PIHL's top lines. The top three Planets scorers, they account for 43 goals and 45 assists through the team's first 18 games.
“That line has clicked for us,” Meyers said. “All three have been pretty dynamic for us.”
Makozy leads Mars (14-4) with 21 goals and 36 points. Classmate Mazzotta is next with 12 goals and 31 points. Both players were expected to shoulder most of the offensive burden for the young Planets this year. The two paced the team last season when Mazzotta had 41 points and Makozy finished with 38.
“They have both been great for a few years now,” Meyers said. “They came through our program and did well. It's nice for them to get recognition. They have both been real good workers for us.”
Heakins joined the top line this year. He had nine goals and 21 points in his first 15 games. Last year, he had eight goals and 17 points in 12 games played.
“He has fit in nicely on their line,” Meyers said. “We thought that'd be how it worked out at the beginning of the season. Beau is a big body, and he goes to the net hard.”
Newman and McCann have been solid on defense for the Planets.
“They have stabilized our young defensive corps for us,” Meyers said. “Ian Houk-Graves hasn't played too many games for us, so we needed someone to step up for us. They came back this year and did that.”
Newman has 13 assists in 15 games played.
“Ian Newman has shown the biggest improvement last year to this year,” Meyers said. “He was odd man out on defense last year. He has been really good for us.”
McCann had six assists in 17 games played. His father, Dan, passed away in late November.
“Despite everything he's been through, Mike has kept playing well,” Meyers said. “Ian and Mike have stepped their games up to a new level this year.”
The five all-star representatives are the most one school is permitted to have at the game. For the Southwest Conference squad, Quaker Valley, Thomas Jefferson and Mars are the three schools with five representatives apiece.
“It's nice to have a deep roster,” Meyers said. “We are a pretty young team. I think we only have four seniors on offense and two on defense. Ian Houk-Graves and Paul Maust have missed about half of our games because of their amateur team. You never know what will happen year to year with amateur teams, so having young guys step up definitely helps, that's for sure.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.