After 2 special seasons, Norwin hockey ready to tackle step up in class

Saturday, October 21, 2023 | 11:01 AM

As Norwin discovered, there is a menu of factors for hockey teams to move up in classification in the PIHL.

To mention some main ones: The league takes into account previous years’ winning percentages, the number of hockey players in the school’s district and hockey talent in that district, as well as how many feeder teams a school has in its area, such as junior varsity and middle school.

Norwin moved from Class A to 2A this season, and coach Mike Robinson said a rewarding two-year run pushed the Knights upward.

“It was our success over the last two seasons that bumped our winning percentages over the threshold,” Robinson said. “Truthfully, I had a good feeling that we were going to be moved up. Winning the Pens Cup (in 2022), then coming back with a better record the following year and making it to the semifinals, you sort of expect it.”

Part of the process now for Norwin is to adjust to new teams and perhaps a different style of play.

“At first, our guys were a little shocked that it actually happened,” Robinson said. “But once the dust settled, they were on board and ready to get to work. They responded exactly how I was hoping they would.

“We need to work harder than we were before. We need to focus more on what we need to do as a team in order to win hockey games. Individuals don’t win games at the higher levels — only team games do.”

Norwin finished 17-5-1 last year and lost to Fox Chapel in the semifinals.

Only two seniors are gone from that team.

Standout senior forward Alex Thomas returns after producing 70 points on 38 goals and 32 assists, as does junior forward Dom Cerilli (19 goals, 21 assists).

Other top players include junior forward Joey Vecchio (17 goals), senior defenseman Dom Costantino (17 assists), junior forward Cade Zeravica (14 assists) and senior goaltender Owen Burmeister (12-5, .860 save percentage).

Norwin expects to play fast with a heavy forecheck that will look to convert miscues into offense.

But again, will that style work in Class 2A?

“We expect a lot more competitive games tight checking, physical games, well-structured teams and good goaltending,” Robinson said. “Just better overall hockey, and we’re excited for the opportunity to show 2A what we can do.”

Another player who could make an impact is sophomore forward Parker Toth, who had ACL reconstruction surgery last year and is working his way back to form.

Robinson said he will rotate a few freshmen as well.

“Every team hopes for depth in scoring,” the coach said. “You can’t just rely on your top two lines.”

Thomas Jefferson and South Fayette, the returning state champion, look like the top contenders in the class.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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