“Mr. High School Sports” – PIHL Players Skate to Victory in Keystone Games
By Matt Popchock
While most people’s eyes were trained on London, a number of top area hockey players spent the weekend in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania equivalent of the Summer Olympics.
Over five thousand amateur athletes from all over the Commonwealth competed in the 31st annual Keystone Games, with the various hockey tournaments broken down into four teams: West (the greater Pittsburgh area), Central (the Erie and Johnstown areas), East (the Poconos), and South (Philadelphia).
Team West, coached by Bethel Park’s Jim McVay and assisted by former Chartiers Valley coach Lou Biancaniello, clinched a silver medal in the junior division (under-20) hockey tournament with a 13-1 rout of Team East at the Twin Ponds Recreation Center Sunday.
One of McVay’s budding stars, soon-to-be junior Jake Worcester, led the West attack with a hat trick and two assists, while fellow Black Hawk Derek Lesnak added five assists. Team West led 10-0 at the ice cut.
Former Upper St. Clair All-Star C.J. Murray finished the weekend as team scoring leader, ending up third in the junior division with three goals, including one game-winner, and nine points. Murray, who, as a senior in 2011, scored a hatty to help USC win its first Pennsylvania Cup since 1987, is entering his first season at Washington & Jefferson’s D-1 program, where he will play for Biancaniello.
Team West also went home with silver in the midget (under-18) tournament. It opened by rallying from a 3-2 deficit after two periods for a 7-3 victory over Team Central Friday. J.D. Oddi, entering his junior season at Canon-McMillan, put the West ahead to stay early in the third as one of seven different scorers for his team. Oddi scored a team-best three goals over the weekend.
But perhaps the real highlight for that team came Saturday, when it beat the Philadelphia-based South squad 3-1. Greensburg-Salem All-Star and reigning Open Class goal-scoring champion Sean Beichner supplied the difference-maker on a third-period power play, and Norwin netminder Scott Cromling, aided by suffocating defense, made 12 saves.
Even the future stars of the PIHL made some noise in central PA. Team West also had a good showing in the bantam (under-15) division that also included a victory over the Philadelphians on Saturday. Tommy Kimmick of Thomas Jefferson notched a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and three helpers in a 6-1 decision.
Kimmick led his team in total points with six over the weekend, while Cameron Williams of Penn-Trafford led the West with five overall goals.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)