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2005 hockey all-stars

| Sunday, April 3, 2005

Freeport's Dustin Gaworski seems to possess a sixth sense on the ice.

Again and again, he displayed a knack for anticipating an opponent's next move, picking off their pass and transforming the turnover into a goal.

Those who don't believe in a sixth sense can't deny the senior left winger's statistics.

Gaworski piled up 38 goals, including seven game-winners, and 29 assists in 23 games. He led all local players with 67 points.

Gaworski also put the Yellowjackets on his shoulders -- one of which has been the focus of several surgeries -- and pointed them to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Class A quarterfinals.

For his accomplishments, Gaworski is the 2005 Valley News Dispatch Hockey Player of the Year.

"He has a great hockey sense," said Freeport head coach Dave Hepler, who is Gaworski's uncle.

"He knows what other guys are trying to do. He would get legitimate one-on-ones with the goalie about six times a game just from picking off passes and reading plays. That's the difference between just a shot and a good scoring opportunity."

Gaworski, 17, has been playing hockey for almost 14 years. At 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, he is not a bruising forward, but his hockey sense and quickness are weapons to be feared.

"Experience helps a lot, and speed, too" Gaworski said. "Reading a play just seems to come natural."

Gaworski was nagged by a left shoulder injury throughout the 2003-04 season, missed considerable playing time and underwent surgery in April 2004. The shoulder still bothered him at times this season. He had surgery again last week.

"You play with the pain because you want to help your team," said Gaworski, a PIHL Class A all-star.

Gaworski plans to attend Robert Morris University in the fall and play for that school's Division I or III club team. His brother, Derik, is a goaltender for the Colonials' Division III club team.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Stu Rulnick

Plum

By Paul Kogut

Staff writer

Plum proudly claims one of the strongest hockey traditions in the PIHL, and head coach Stu Rulnick has helped keep the Mustangs near the top.

This season, Rulnick mined a relatively small roster as he guided Plum to the PIHL Class AAA quarterfinals, its first division crown since 2002, and a 20-5-1 record.

For his team's accomplishments, Rulnick has been named 2005 Valley News Dispatch Hockey Coach of the Year.

"The biggest part of our success was the kids' work ethic," Rulnick said. "Our numbers were a little low. We ended up with about 14 skaters. We are used to carrying about 20. But the kids played as a team."

Rulnick, 45, and his coaching staff stressed conditioning and that seemed to pay off throughout the season.

"The year before, we would be up in games and run out of gas," Rulnick said. "We lost games late or in overtime. I think conditioning made a big difference this season."

Rulnick has been the head coach for five seasons and this year marked his first division title.

He also was picked to coach the Northeast Conference in the Class AAA all-star game.

Plum defeated Seneca Valley, 5-2, in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Upper St. Clair in the quarterfinals.

FIRST TEAM

FORWARD

David D'Incau

Plum senior

  • Highlights: D'Incau tied for the team lead with 29 assists, scored 12 goals and finished third on team with 41 points. ... He is an unselfish player who set up goals from his center position. ... D'Incau also earned PIHL Class AAA all-star recognition.

    FORWARD

    Joel Shriver

    Kittanning senior

  • Highlights: Shriver collected 31 goals and 21 assists for 52 points in 22 games. ... His goal total included 10 on power plays and one short-handed. ... Shriver was named a PIHL Class AA all-star and led the Wildcats to the playoffs.

    FORWARD

    Jonathan Smith

    Plum junior

  • Highlights: Smith led the Mustangs with 22 goals and 49 points. He also dished out 27 assists. ... He was the top finisher for a team that advanced to the PIHL Class AAA quarterfinals. ... Smith was picked for the league's AAA all-star game.

    DEFENSEMAN

    Zach Hepler

    Freeport sophomore

  • Highlights: Hepler turned in stellar defense and dished out a team-leading 36 assists. He also scored 13 goals and ended up with 49 points. ... He was leading scorer among defensemen in Class A. ... Hepler earned PIHL all-star honors.

    DEFENSEMAN

    Phil Mains

    Plum senior

  • Highlights: Mains provided outstanding defense and offense, collecting 17 goals and 29 assists for 46 points. ... He scored three goals during win in first round of PIHL Class AAA playoffs. ... Mains repeated as a PIHL AAA all-star.

    GOALTENDER

    Brandon King

    Plum senior

  • Highlights: King posted 20-5-1 record for team that advanced to PIHL Class AAA quarterfinals. ... He also had 2.26 goals-against average, an .886 save percentage and three shutouts. ... King, a first-year starter, played in every game for Plum.

    SECOND TEAM

    FORWARD

    Joe Budz

    Fox Chapel junior

  • Highlights: Budz collected 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 25 games. ... He helped lead the Foxes to the PIHL Class AAA postseason with his consistent play. ... A left winger, Budz participated in the PIHL AAA all-star game.

    FORWARD

    Kyle Misour

    Fox Chapel junior

  • Highlights: Misour scored 18 goals and dished out 20 assists for 38 points for a playoff team. ... A center, Misour can finish plays around the net or create scoring opportunities with passes. ... He was named to the PIHL Class AAA all-star game.

    FORWARD

    Matt Quigley

    Fox Chapel junior

  • Highlights: Quigley collected 18 goals and 15 assists for 33 points in only 16 games. ... A talented right winger, Quigley played for a high-level team outside the PIHL during the winter. ... Quigley was named a PIHL Class AAA all-star.

    DEFENSEMAN

    Ryan Griffin

    Plum senior

  • Highlights: Griffin turned in strong defense for a PIHL Class AAA playoff team. ... He also had 12 goals, 22 assists and 34 points for a defensive unit that was extremely productive on offense. ... Griffin earned PIHL Class AAA all-star honors.

    DEFENSEMAN

    Rick Bigley

    Deer Lakes senior

  • Highlights: Bigley played solid defense while adding 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points to the offensive attack. ... He helped lead Deer Lakes to its 11th consecutive playoff berth. ... Bigley was named a PIHL Class A all-star.

    GOALTENDER

    Tim Zahumensky

    Freeport freshman

  • Highlights: Zahumensky had 13-9-1 record for team that made it to PIHL Class A quarterfinals. ... He also had 3.08 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. ... He turned in one of his best performances in the first round of playoffs.

    ========================

    The Valley News Dispatch sports staff, with input from local coaches, chose the 2005 hockey all-stars. Selections were based on several criteria, including statistics and contributions to his team's success.

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