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Notebook: PIHL all-stars ready to take ice

| Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007

After several weeks of preparation, the PIHL will host its annual hockey all-star games Sunday at the Valley Sports Complex in New Kensington with the first of four games scheduled for 1 p.m.

"The people at Valley Sports did such a great job last year, and the whole staff was outside parking cars and making sure that everyone had a space," PIHL commissioner Ed Sam said. "They did everything they could to make everything right which helped us out immensely and provided things for us inside the facility."

To determine the players for the games, the coaches from each team selected nominees, met with the other coaches and campaigned for their players. After each coach presented arguments for their players, coaches took a vote and selected the participants.

It took two meetings for the committee to pare the number to 38 players per game, 19 each on the Northeast and Southwest Division squads (12 forwards, six defensemen and three goaltenders per side). No coach can vote for members of their team and each player selected had to make it through two meetings and nomination sessions.

"The coaches are very fair and equitable when they do this," Sam said. "They know what they're talking about, they know what they're doing and they're fair about it."

In addition to picking the team, the PIHL also had to be somewhat diplomatic when picking a venue. In previous years, it has moved from the Robert Morris Island Sports Complex to Belmont Arena in Kittanning and Kirk S. Nevin in Greensburg. This will be the second consecutive year the event will be held in New Kensington.

"We collect bids for it and, in those bids, we ask for, in no particular order, charge per hour for ice time, parking, concessions, seating and, is the facility accessible," Sam said. "We also look at the cooperation we've received from the people at the rink."

The PIHL hopes to eventually have its all-star game at Mellon Arena, but that building won't be used until the championship games March 24-25.

"We'd love to play an all-star game at a facility like that, and we talked about it, but we're just not ready yet" Sam said. "Whenever we can herd more people into the seats and make it financially viable to do, then we'll end up at Mellon Arena."

Tricky night

Scoring three goals in a game is a rare feat, even at the high school level, but Sewickley Academy freshman Mike Tully went one better.

Not only did he get a hat trick in a 9-3 win over Center on Monday, he also netted three goals in the freshman game that same night.

Sewickley coach Erik Hoolahan was not surprised by Tully's achievement.

"He has really worked hard, and when you work hard, good things like that will happen to you," Hoolahan said.

On the rebound

Latrobe's hockey program has struggled near the middle of the pack in recent years, but so far the Wildcats appear ready to make a run at a PIHL Class AA title.

Latrobe is 11-3-0. The only team with a better winning percentage is undefeated Pine-Richland (14-0-0), the defending state champion.

What is amazing is that only one player, sophomore forward Jeffjoe Regola, has more than 10 goals and only Regola and senior defenseman Eric Fontaine will represent Latrobe on the all-star team.

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