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Franklin Regional grad Jamie Mauro leading ACHA Division I hockey in scoring

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, 7:06 p.m.
Franklin Regional grad Jamie Mauro is the leading scorer for the Slippery Rock hockey team.
Franklin Regional grad Jamie Mauro is the leading scorer for the Slippery Rock hockey team.

A couple of weeks into the season, Jamie Mauro said Slippery Rock hockey coach Dave Grimm broke the news to him that he was leading all of ACHA Division I in scoring.

Since then curiosity has got to Mauro, so he checks the ACHA website every now and then to see if he’s still leading.

Every time he’s looked at the list he’s seen his name at the top.

Mauro, who won two Penguins Cup titles with Franklin Regional, has 54 points and is four points clear of second place nationally in scoring. ACHA Division I is the top club hockey organization for colleges and has 57 members across the country. His scoring prowess has helped Slippery Rock to a 14-7-2 record, which is their best start since 2010.

“I didn’t really think I’d be doing this well,” Mauro said. “I don’t know. I was always one of the top scorers growing up playing high school and amateurs, so I figured I could find a spot on this team, as well.”

Mauro, a sophomore, admitted he wasn’t sure if he’d make the team last year, but once he found his way into the lineup he showed the same scoring touch that he had at Franklin Regional, where he finished second in scoring in Class A his senior year.

He’s scored at least a point in 19 of 23 games with five hat tricks and two four-goal games. He has 31 goals and 23 assists and has scored five power play goals.

“When I talk with the other coaches, one of the things that comes up is that if we compared him to a player, we see him being a lot like (former Detroit Red Wings star) Pavel Datsuyk,” Grimm said. “Jamie will do three or four things in a game that leave us asking how he does he know to do that or where did he learn that? He’s a lot of fun to watch in practice and in games.

“We have some high-end skill guys on our team and sometimes Jamie leaves some his teammates shaking their heads on the bench with some of the things he can do.”

Mauro has found chemistry with linemates Thomas Kimmick, a Thomas Jefferson grad, and Bethel Park grad Antonio Esposito. Kimmick was second nationally in scoring at one point and currently sits tied for third with 45 points. The potent first line has helped Slippery Rock score 113 goals, which ranks sixth nationally.

“We work very well together,” Mauro said. “Tommy and I played together last year from November on. Our center graduated, and Antonio Esposito has fit in really nice. Tommy and I have clicked from the beginning, and Antonio has filled that center role very well.”

Another area Mauro said has been helpful has been his introduction of video advanced analytics. Grimm was an assistant coach at Slippery Rock for a .couple years before taking over the program midway through last season. In the offseason he was introduced to Iceberg Analytics, a video data collection program, and has incorporated it. The program tracks ice time, takeaways, shots and other metrics and how they relate to each other.

Slippery Rock finished 18-16-2 last year for its first winning season since 2010. Now they have their sights set on contending for a College Hockey Mid-America Conference regular season title and a bid to nationals. The winner of the conference tournament earns an automatic bid to the national tournament.

Grimm talked with his team about changing the culture when the coaching change happened and has seen his players take that to heart.

“We had the players to make the team successful; we just needed the buy in,” Grimm said. “We didn’t have that the last two years, but this year we had a fresh start. We trust each other. We have guys that text me that want to meet before practice to watch video. They’re all committed to this.”

Slippery Rock gets second semester play started Jan. 11-12, when it travels to Oakland (Mich.) for a weekend series. After that is a heavy dose of conference play against opponents like Robert Morris, Pitt, John Carroll, IUP and West Virginia. Slippery Rock is currently third behind Duquesne and IUP, but has played less conference games then both schools.

Mauro is hopeful to continue his scoring bonanza and wants to do his part to keep Slippery Rock in contention down the stretch.

“We want to win the conference playoffs, because that would give us a bid to nationals down in Texas,” Mauro said. “We want to be in the top two in the conference in the regular season, so we can get a bye in the first round of the playoffs.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

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