Four integral members of the Thomas Jefferson hockey team were selected to play in the PIHL all-star showcase.
The games took place Jan. 27 at the Robert Morris Island Sports Complex on Neville Island.
TJ was represented in Class A by senior forwards Hayden Hintemeyer and Johnny Rimsky, senior defenseman Johnny Piscitelli and sophomore goaltender Luke Ripepi.
Hintemeyer leads the Jaguars with 16 goals and 16 assists. He was named as the PIHL Class A Player of the Month for November.
“Hayden has a very good skill level to go with strong skating skills. He uses those skills to beat opponents in every zone,” TJ coach Bill Crousey said. “He has the ability to make his teammates better every shift. When his line is sharing the puck, they are fun to watch.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins recognized Hintemeyer, a two-time PIHL All-Star, on the ice during their Dec. 20 game at PPG Paints Arena.
“To be an all-star this year is definitely an accomplishment that I value greatly,” Hintemeyer said. “I was an all-star last year but did not have the chance to attend the game. It will be nice to attend the all-star game with my other teammates such as Johnny Rimsky, who has been one of my best friends while growing up.
“I am very thankful for being given the opportunity to play in the all-star game. … I am friends with many of the other all-stars from neighboring teams in single-A, so it will be nice to catch up with them. It will be nice to step away from the season for a day to just enjoy myself with all the other all-stars.”
Rimsky has provided seven goals and 16 assists (23 points) for the Jaguars.
“Johnny has always had a good skill level, and last year, he started to use it,” Crousey said. “He has the ability to beat kids one-on-one. He also sees the ice well enough to make a pass when that is the play to be made. He has definitely picked up his play in our end, which has taken some pressure off his defense.
“And he has developed a good chemistry with Hayden, which has led to more scoring opportunities for both.”
Rimsky has skated for Thomas Jefferson since his freshman season.
“It’s a great honor to be acknowledged as an all-star this year,” Rimsky said. “Since this is my first time, it’s very exciting.
“I wouldn’t have been able to be anywhere near the stage I am at now without my teammates and coaches, and I am very thankful to have them around to help me reach my full potential.”
Piscitelli, the Jaguars’ team captain, ranks among the leading offensive players for TJ with nine goals and six assists.
“His ability to play offense and defense has helped our team,” Crousey said. “On defense, he’s helped us get out of our zone with good decisions. On offense, his puck retrieval skills are very good, which leads to extra chances in the offensive zone.
“As our captain, he has done a great job leading this team.”
Piscitelli has played hockey since the third grade, when he participated in the TJ developmental program.
“This is my first time being named an all-star,” he said. “This is my senior year. Making the all-star team is the best way to end my high school career, and I could not be in this spot if it wasn’t for my linemates, Eddie Pazo and Hayden Hintemeyer.
“Also, I could not have better coaches. Coach Crousey has been one of my best.”
Ripepi has started every game for the Jaguars. He has a 10-2 record with a 2.74 goals-against average, .885 save percentage and a shutout.
“Luke has worked hard to improve ever since he started playing goalie full-time in ninth grade,” Crousey said. “He has gotten better at tracking pucks from the point to make a save.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.