Share This Page

Hempfield enjoying turnaround, ready for Open Cup

| Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, 10:12 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Anthony Ciocca is checked by Greensburg Central Catholic's Neil Solan during their game at Kirk S. Nevin Arena on Feb. 20, 2014 in Greensburg.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Billy Hayden and Greensburg Central Catholic's Ryan Marietta chase a puck during their game at Kirk S. Nevin Arena on Feb. 20, 2014 in Greensburg.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Jacob Bartus chases the puck in front of Greensburg Central Catholic's Tony Pacelli during a game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, at Kirk S. Nevin Arena in Greensburg.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Jacob Bartus #13 and Avery Lavella #24 celebrate a first period goal against Greensburg Central Catholic goaltender Patrick Teich during their game at Kirk S. Nevin Arena on Feb. 20, 2014 in Greensburg.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Anthony Ciocca battles Greensburg Central Catholic goaltender Patrick Teich and defenseman Zach Banko #8 in front of the net during their game at Kirk S. Nevin Arena on Feb. 20, 2014 in Greensburg.

Hempfield reached the PIHL Penguins Cup Class AAA playoffs following the 2010-11 season, but the Spartans didn't stay long, dropping a 6-5 decision to Central Catholic.

Senior captain Mike Donofrio, a freshman on that team, expects the Spartans to stick around a little longer this season as a member of the Open Class.

“We're ready,” Donofrio said. “It's the first time we've been to the playoffs in awhile, so we're ready. It's a little different being in a new league, but we're going to roll in there with confidence.”

Hempfield (18-3) beat Carrick, 6-4, in a first-round game Sunday night.

Hempfield, which won a total of 10 games during Donofrio's sophomore and junior seasons, finished second to Indiana (18-1-1) in Section 3. The Spartans (34 points) entered the postseason as the No. 3 seed.

Much of the credit for Hempfield's sudden turnaround should go to the team's seniors, second-year coach Denny Zeravica said.

Zach Iezzi, Billy Hayden and Mike Adams have anchored the defense, and Anthony Ciocca ranked 10th in the classification with 52 points during the regular season.

Avery Lavella added 41, and Donofrio has played a role imaginable.

“The senior leadership has been fantastic this year,” Zeravica said. “I can't say enough for all of them.”

Sophomore goaltender Garrett Ciaramella ranked at or near the top of the classification in wins (15), shutouts (four), goals-against average (1.75) and save percentage (.915).

Though it wasn't as unexpected as Hempfield's turnaround, Baldwin entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed after posting an Open Class-best 37 points, two more than Indiana.

Few have been able to stop Anthony Alaimo, who ranked fourth during the regular season with 59 points, including 25 goals.

Alaimo plays on a line with center Max Milan and fellow winger Brian Dee, who was ninth with 54 points in the regular season.

“I have great linemates,” Alaimo said. “We connect well. Brian has the hands and the shot. Me and Max work the puck, get it deep and grind.”

Indiana has the league's No. 2 scorer in Jess Bartholow, a 6-foot-5 forward who's dominant on the puck. Bartholow finished with 61 points and 29 goals, as Indiana won Section 3 with a 17-1-1 record.

The Little Indians reached the semifinals last year — also known as the Northeast final — before falling to eventual Open Class champion Ford City, 7-4.

“We've not faced a great deal of adversity,” said Indiana coach Dom Glavach, whose team had a goal differential of plus-115 during the regular season. “We've only had one very challenging game. Hempfield was the only one where we had to come from behind and tie it to go into overtime.”

West Virginia entrant Harbor Creek went 18-1 to win Section 2 and enters the Southwest portion of the bracket as the No. 1 seed.

Harbor Creek's Logan Conboy led the Open Class in scoring during the regular season with 65 points.

Morgantown is the other section champion and is seeded second.

Peters Township could make some noise in the Southwest. The Indians are seeded third and lost to Morgantown, 2-1, on Feb. 19.

Vince Defazio and Logan Davis of Greensburg Salem ranked fifth and sixth in regular-season scoring at 57 and 56 points, respectively.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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.