A quick glance at the PIHL’s all-star rosters reveals the strengths of the A-K Valley high school hockey teams. In a few words, lightning-fast speed and dominating skill.
Of the 15 local players selected to play in one of Sunday’s three league all-star games, nine are forwards.
A forward is also among the six alternates from the region.
This means expect local players to strut their stuff and light up the opposition on Sunday.
Hockey all-star games are usually wide-open, high-scoring affairs, and the local players could pile up points at a noticeable rate.
“It’s good to see a lot of the top scorers are from the Valley,” said Deer Lakes senior forward Sean McIntyre, a member of the Class A Northeast Conference all-star team. “That’s something positive.”
Four of the top six players by points are from the Valley, according to the latest PIHL statistics. They include Freeport’s Mike Bender, Plum’s Rob Tunon and Deer Lakes’ Matt DiSanti and McIntyre.
And the all-star rosters recognize that fact.
Considering there are 72 forwards on six all-star teams, the nine local forwards represent 12.5 percent of the total.
By comparison, the seven local teams make up 10.8 percent of the 65-team league.
Here are some other local story lines to follow this Sunday:
Plum’s Tunon, a senior, will make his second all-star appearance after collecting a goal and three assists in an 8-6 loss last year. Could he outdo his points total this time around?
Dan Coyle, also a Plum senior, is the only local AAA all-star defenseman this season. Coyle will make his all-star debut. He and five other blueliners will face the tough task of stopping forwards such as Erie Cathedral Prep’s Jeff Dionisio (50 points) and Erie McDowell’s Lee Rohan (45).
Despite leading a much improved team, senior forward Pat King is Fox Chapel’s lone all-star. Through 14 games, King topped the Foxes with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points. Fox Chapel is above the .500 mark this year after finishing 6-15-2 last season.
Kittanning welcomed the honor of having an A-K Valley-high five players and a coach named to the all-star event.
And that’s not even counting alternate defenseman Michael Mercurio, who could be called upon to play if one of the six first team defensemen is not available.
Goaltender Adam Toy was moved from alternate status to one of three first team Northeast Conference goalies.
The PIHL decided to increase the goaltender allotments for each all-star team from two to three this year and received special permission from USA Hockey.
Having three goaltenders will make it easier for the head coaches to divide up playing time. Each netminder will play one period.
Luke Heller is one of three all-star forwards from Kittanning but might be the only one to play.
Shane Troup and Zach Cain recently underwent surgery for various reasons. Troup definitely will not play. There is only a 50 percent chance Cain will be able to go, Smouse said.
Heller, a junior, is a first-time selection.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Heller said. “Maybe I’ll get to go again next year. Either way it will be fun.”
Heller leads the Wildcats with a perfectly balanced 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points in 15 games. Troup (27 points) and Cain (25) are right behind him.
Heller’s brother, Ty, plays for Pitt’s Division III team and played in the College Hockey East all-star game this year.
Although Knoch won its first game on Monday, the Knights have two all-star players — senior forward Phil Jancosko and senior defenseman Zack Neubert.
It’s been a long season at Knoch and making the all-star team helps ease some of the frustration.
“All I can do is laugh,” said Jancosko, who has taken the tough year in stride. He will be making his all-star debut.
“The all-star game evens things up a little bit. It gives us a chance to win a high school game.”
Neubert is a two-time all-star player.
“It’s nice for us to get recognized for Knoch High School,” Neubert said.
Freeport’s Bender and Deer Lakes’ McIntyre and DiSanti have combined for 169 points in 47 games this season.
They are expected to make some noise. Last year, DiSanti had two assists and Bender scored one of his team’s three goals.
“I hope to get in the scoring column,” McIntyre said. “I didn’t score last year.”
Senior defenseman Travis Snoznik, who initiated the move to start a hockey program at Valley two years ago, will go into the team record books as the Vikings’ first all-star.
“That was one of my goals going into the season,” Snoznik said. “I worked hard all summer. I’m definitely honored.”
Another story line to watch for would be a win. None of the local players was on a winning all-star team last year.
All games Feb. 9 at Kirk S. Nevin Arena, Greensburg.
Class AAA – 6 p.m.
Northeast Conference Team Forwards: Rob Tunon, Plum, Sr. ; Mike Roth, Franklin Regional, Sr.; Zack Flora, Gateway, Sr.; Eddie Martin, Central Catholic, Jr.; Chris Owens, Hempfield, Sr.; Pat King, Fox Chapel, Sr. ; Chris Szczypinski, Shaler, Sr.; Matt Capalongo, Central Catholic, Jr.; Ryan Jones, Penn Hills, So.; Dennis Osgood, Norwin, Sr.; Jordan Miller, Latrobe, Sr.; Jim Daugherty, Franklin Regional, Jr.
Defensemen: Matt Kopaczynski, Gateway, Sr.; Chris Niznik, Central Catholic, Sr.; Dan Coyle, Plum, Sr. ; Matt Makoski, Latrobe, Sr.; Sean Buckley, Franklin Regional, Sr.; Steven Wedner, Allderdice, Sr.
Goaltenders: David Himes, Gateway, Sr.; Brandon Stallard, Franklin Regional, Sr.; Brian Adamczak, Central Catholic, So.
Alternates: Travis Senchur, Plum, F, Jr. ; Luke Pepper, Gateway, F, Sr.; Jason Kreps, Fox Chapel, D, Jr. ; Chris Gykes, Gateway, Sr.; Todd Hendry, Fox Chapel, G, Jr.
Coaches: Stu Rulnick, Plum ; Kevin Zielmanski, Central Catholic; Dan Serakowski, Gateway; Jim Damp, Franklin Regional.
Southwest Conference Team
Forwards: Jeff D’inosio, Erie Cathedral Prep, Sr.; Nate Obringer, Baldwin, Sr.; Brandon Hanley, Bethel Park, Sr.; Brian Bahurinsky, Meadville, Sr.; Eric Sloan, Mt. Lebanon, Jr.; Tim Ward, North Allegheny, Sr.; Lee Rohan, McDowell, Sr.; Ian Joyce, Upper St. Clair, So.; Jeff Holabaugh, Meadville, Sr.; Pat Figurski, Erie Cathedral Prep, Sr.; Alex Delgreco, Baldwin, Sr.; Ed DiGregory, Mt. Lebanon, Sr.
Defensemen: Tyler Cummings, North Hills, Jr.; Dan Zabkar, Bethel Park, Jr.; Grady Clingan, Bethel Park, Sr.; Justin Werle, Meadville, Sr.; Joe Rosenberg, North Allegheny, Sr.; Steve Kobert, McDowell, Jr.
Goaltenders: Matt Fiege, Bethel Park, Sr.; Rob Allison, Erie Cathedral Prep, Sr.; Brian Bakowski, Bethel Park, Sr.
Alternates: Bill Leckenby, Mt. Lebanon, F, Jr.; Kyle Rogers, Erie Cathedral Prep, F, Jr.; Dan Wilen, D, Mt. Lebanon, Jr.; Conor McNamara , Erie Cathedral Prep, D, Jr.; Casey Dudt-Mulzet, North Hills, G, Jr.
Coaches: Jim McVay, Bethel Park; Paul Taibi, Mt. Lebanon; Brian Hershberger, North Allegheny.
Class AA – 4 p.m.
Northeast Conference Team
Forwards: Mike Nesper, Indiana, Jr.; Matt Ward, Greensburg CC, Sr.; Zach Cain, Kittanning, Sr. ; John Schwerer, Pine-Richland, Sr.; Bryan Schlemmer, Indiana, Sr.; Shane Troup, Kittanning, Jr. ; Colin Ludwig, Greensburg CC, Sr.; Luke Heller, Kittanning, Jr. ; Nate Nehnevajsa, Pine-Richland, Sr.; Phil Jancosko, Knoch, Sr. ; Casey Shoub Jr., Greensburg CC, Sr.; Ben Daniels, Hampton, Jr.
Defensemen: Justin Avi, Kittanning, Sr. ; Zack Neubert, Knoch, Sr. ; Neil Klueber, Hampton, Sr.; Mike Hart, Indiana, Jr.; John Hanahan, Pine-Richland, Sr.; Mike Appolonia, Indiana, Jr.
Goaltenders: Jake Genes, Greensburg CC, Jr.; Mike Mentch, Indiana, Jr.; Adam Toy, Kittanning, Jr.
Alternates: Zack Diamond, Indiana, F, Jr.; Michael Mercurio, Kittanning, D, Jr. ; Brandon Kolich, Hampton, D, Sr.; Brian Troiano, Hampton, G, Jr.; John Bongiovanni, Hampton, F, Sr.
Coaches: Joe Dytka, Greensburg CC; Dom Glavich, Indiana; Jeff Smouse, Kittanning.
Southwest Conference Team
Forwards: Aaron Veydt, Canon McMillan, Sr.; Justin Juha, South Park, Sr.; Mike Papciak, Peters Township, Sr.; Luke Wawrzeniak, Thomas Jefferson, Jr.; Kody Underwood, Moon, Sr.; Phil Supan, Montour, Sr.; Derek Keller, West Allegheny, Sr.; Matt Swartz, Peters Township, Jr.; Christian Minella, Peters Township, Sr.; Dane Heatland, Canevin, So.; Justin Holzer, Canevin, Sr.; Vito Caporal, South Park, Sr.
Defensemen: Matt Warco, Trinity, Jr.; Matt Clackson, Peters Township, Sr.; David Strobel, Montour, Sr.; Ryan Lindauer, Ambridge, Sr.; Bob Cagna, South Park, Sr.; Thomas Quinn, West Allegheny, Sr.
Goaltenders: Patrick Smith, Canevin, Sr.; Kyle Kittlberger, Peters Township, Sr.; Dan Hartman, Thomas Jefferson, Jr.
Alternates: Joshua Kelly, Trinity, F, Jr.; Brandon School, F, Thomas Jefferson, Jr.; Jared Coleman, Canevin, D, Jr.; Grant Heinauer, Thomas Jefferson, D, Jr.; Chris Watkinson, Canon McMillan, G, Sr.
Coaches: Don Powell, Thomas Jefferson; Larry Marks, Trinity; Brian Henderson, Canevin.
Class A – 2 p.m.
Northeast Conference Team
Forwards: Bob Finney, Mars, Sr.; Sean McIntyre, Deer Lakes, Sr.; Matt DiSanti, Deer Lakes, Sr.; Mike Bender, Freeport, Sr. ; Justin McKolosky , Westmont Hilltop, Jr.; Joseph Delic , Bishop McCort, Jr.; Bob Beckert, Mars, Sr.; Jim Roach, Mars, Sr.; Matt Tilson, Conemaugh Valley, Sr.; Chris Gvozdich, Richland Cambria, Sr.; David Duncan , Forest Hills, Jr.; Gardiner McKay, Somerset, Sr.
Defensemen: Brett Ziegler, Somerset, Jr.; Zachary Szwast, Conemaugh Valley, Sr.; Steve Meyers , Mars, Sr.; T.J. Jastrab, Bishop McCort, Sr.; Brian Willett, Westmont Hilltop, Sr.; Travis Snoznik, Valley, Sr.
Goaltenders: Cory Stahl, Conemaugh Valley, Sr.; Anthony Feyock, Bishop McCort, Sr.; Derik Gaworski, Freeport, Sr.
Alternates: Raymond Schmidt, Forest Hills, F, Sr.; Sean Riffle, Ferndale, F, Jr.; Cory Glass, Westmont Hilltop, D, Sr.; Rob Plocki, Freeport, D, Sr.; Logan Harding, Valley, G, Jr.
Coaches: Bob Finney, Mars; Cliff Ziegler, Somerset; Art McQuillan, Westmont Hilltop.
Southwest Conference Team
Forwards: Jesse Lubash, Serra Catholic, Sr.; Mike Mitchko, Elizabeth Forward, Sr.; Mark Fetsko, Steel Valley, Sr.; Mike Wylie, Blackhawk, Sr.; Andrew Dague, Wheeling Park, Sr.; Sam Hairston, Quaker Valley, Jr.; Ben Herring, Quaker Valley, Jr.; Zach Gray, Center, Sr.; Adam Phillips, Wheeling Park, Sr.; Kenny Lytle, Quigley, Jr.; Trevor Heck, Sewickley Academy, So.; C.J. King, Serra Catholic, Sr.
Defensemen: Tony Bonacorso, Steel Valley, Jr.; Ryan Noone, Serra Catholic, Jr.; Dustin Brown, Wheeling Park, Sr.; Jonathen Deyton, Quaker Valley, Sr.; Chris Fisher, Blackhawk, Sr.; Kurt Schenkel, Wheeling Park, Jr.
Goaltenders: Justin Garay, Center, So.; Tim Johnson, Serra Catholic, Jr.; Jed Michael, Quaker Valley, Jr.
Alternates: Dave Malarik, Quaker Valley, F, Sr.; Justin Summerville, Center, F, Jr.; Micah Crews, Linsly, D, Jr.; Jason Walos, Elizabeth Forward, D, Jr.; Rasto Kret, Linsly, G, Sr.
Coaches: John Mooney, Serra Catholic; Tom Fetsko, Steel Valley.