Plum native Cole Oravitz enjoys hockey homecoming with USHL club
Cole Oravitz suited up for the Madison Capitols at last year’s United States Hockey League Fall Classic in Cranberry, and he also played in a pair of games in April to wrap the 2018-19 season.
The Plum product, a high school senior, said his first taste of play in the top junior hockey league in the United States was beneficial.
Now, in his first full year with the Capitols, the 17-year-old defenseman said he’s ready to take his game to the next level.
“I feel pretty good,” said Oravitz, who is back in Pittsburgh with his Madison teammates and the league’s 15 other teams for the season-opening Fall Classic, now in its fourth year at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
“With the size and speed of the game, I know there are still some things I have to work on. I am younger. I am going to use this season to move forward and keep getting better.”
The USHL, featuring players 20 years of age and younger, will have games at the Lemieux Sports Complex through Sunday. Each team will play twice.
“All of the boys are really pumped to get the season going and ready to hopefully make things happen,” said Oravitz, who verbally committed in March to play college hockey at the University of Massachusetts.
Things didn’t turn out the way Oravitz and the Capitols had hoped in the opener Thursday in a 4-1 loss to the Omaha Lancers.
They hope to bounce back Friday at 10 a.m. against the Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints. Then it is on to Youngstown for a single game Saturday evening before returning home to Wisconsin.
“Cole’s experience with us last year, he came in already knowing what we were doing with the system and structure and all of that,” Madison assistant coach Will Craig said.
“He already had a leg up on some of the other defensemen who were drafted or acquired later on. I want all seven of the defensemen to be leaders, not just one or two, and Cole’s embracing that leadership role with his overall play and communication with his teammates.”
More than 400 NHL, collegiate and amateur scouts are in attendance to watch the players from each team perform.
The event has a local flair as Oravitz is one of seven Pittsburgh-area products playing on USHL teams.
Also in the mix are Alex Servagno (Gibsonia, Green Bay Gamblers, forward), Carter Schade (Mars, Lincoln Stars, defense), Matthew Sutton (Gibsonia, Omaha Lancers, forward), Cam Recchi (Pittsburgh, Omaha Lancers, forward), Caden Lewandowski (Pittsburgh, Youngstown Phantoms, defense) and McLean Dorr (Pittsburgh, Youngstown, goaltender).
Servagno and Schade were teammates with Oravitz on last year’s Pens Elite team that capped its season in the spring by taking home USA Hockey’s Tier 1 16U AAA national championship in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It’s always nice to come back to town and see family and friends and have them be able to watch me play,” Oravitz said. “Hopefully, I can perform well for them.”
As he is away from home for his senior year of high school, Oravitz is completing his requirements through the Plum cyber-school program.
The work, done by computer, is set up through the Plum School District. He logs on every day and completes his course work.
His season with Madison could end as early as April, and that would afford him the opportunity to complete his classes at home and graduate with his Plum classmates and friends.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, [email protected] or via Twitter .