Butler County hockey players ready to match up in All-Star event
The annual PIHL All-Star game will drop the puck on Feb. 9, at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center, and the game will highlight several local talents from the Seneca Valley, Mars, Butler and Freeport ice hockey squads.
The Class A matchup will feature players from Mars on the Southwest squad playing against the stars of Freeport on the Northeast side.
Mars will be represented by forwards Nick Makozy, Craig Mazzotta and Beau Heakins; and defenders Mike McCann and Ian Newman.
Freeport will send forwards Cole Hepler and Hunter Kepple and defensemen Brendon Zack and Jared Kapustik. Michael Frazetta is an alternate at forward for the team.
Freeport head coach Dave Hepler will be on the bench for the first time.
“I have always stayed away from the bench,” Hepler said. “But, this year my son is a senior, and this will probably be my last year of coaching, so I figured I would witness this one time from the bench.”
Hepler stayed away because he wanted the focus to be on the kids.
“The team has done fairly well this season, and we have some talented players on our Single-A team despite having a smaller group,” he said. “I am lucky to have these quality players and some of these guys have been here more than once. … Some of the younger players will be in this game more than once. It is an honor for them, and an honor for Freeport.”
The Class A game will take place at 1 p.m. and be preceded by the Open class game at 11 a.m.
In the Class AAA game, the Southwest conference team will feature stars from Seneca Valley, as it takes on the Northeast squad featuring Butler’s finest.
Representing Seneca Valley will be forwards Chris Marziotto and Brendan MacFarlane and goalie Tanner Pfeffer. Head coach Anthony Raco will be an assistant coach for the team. Listed as an alternate for the squad will be Ethan Kipin.
Butler will send forwards Joseph DiMartino, Troy Double and Connor Scott. Butler defenseman Jonathan Fair and goalie Logan Rothbauer also were named to the team as was Mike Guentner, who will serve as the head coach for the all-star squad.
“I am glad our guys can share this together, especially the seniors,” Raco said. “The coaches of the league are the ones who nominate and vote the guys onto the team.
“Chris works so hard and Tanner’s work speaks for itself. Brendan has been having a highlight year. I hate to be biased, but I hope Ethan gets on, too.”
MacFarlane said he happy to make the team, even more so because he will have some teammates with him.
“I am just blessed to be a part of it,” MacFarlane said.
Pfeffer and Marziotto have played in this game before, so they know how much fun it is, but also what they are up against.
“Chris puts up a lot of points, and we will be up against the best players,” Pfeffer said. “Being a senior, this is something I will remember for a long time.”
Pfeffer said he will have to play his best because all of the top scorers will be looking to score a goal in the game.
Marziotto said this game is always a cool event, and although he likes to mix it up against other top players, he admitted there is a bit of a fan element to the game even for the players.
“I like to play with guys I usually have to play against like J.D. Oddi from Canon McMillan or Chris Siak from Bethel Park,” he said. “I know the Coles from Pine-Richland and Nick Matelan. I like to watch their skill, too.”
The Class AAA game begins at 5 p.m. and is preceded by the Class AA game at 3 p.m.
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.