PIHL Player of the Week for week ending Dec. 1, 2019

Sunday, December 1, 2019 | 10:31 PM

North Catholic is playing varsity hockey for the first time in nearly two decades.

The program, because of enrollment at the school and other obstacles, folded in the early 2000’s before returning in 2016 as a JV developmental program, where they played the last three seasons.

Entering this season, not many people with knowledge of the PIHL knew what to expect.

Early success coupled with good goaltending has been the story. The Trojans comfortably are in first place in the Class A Northwest Division.

The good goaltending has come from Chris McFayden, a senior who has played in every game this season and is the TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Player of the Week.

McFayden stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 3-1 Trojans’ victory Tuesday over Kiski Area.

“Chris did what he has done for us all year. He was solid in between the pipes and helped cover up some defensive miscues,” coach Jonathan Hoffmann said. “That is a typical performance from him. He makes everything look easy and the puck looks like a beach ball to him.”

It’s been a “nightly theme” for McFayden, who was the Class A Player of the Month for the league in October, named by officials of the league.

The senior is 7-1 with a 2.00 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He’s allowed just 16 goals on 229 shots faced and has two shutouts.

McFayden started the year by twice allowing four goals on shot counts in the upper twenties. Since then, he has the two shutouts, one with 19 saves and the other with 27 stops, and has allowed just one goal twice. On those occasions, he stopped at least 28 shots, including this most-recent outing.

The seven wins through Saturday are the third most in Class A, behind South Park’s Shane Peremba, who has already been player of the week, and Thomas Jefferson’s Luke Ripepi, who leads the class with nine wins.

McFayden’s 16 goals allowed are the fewest for any goalie with eight or more games played, with the exception of Peremba, who has allowed just 13 goals on 311 shots on goal. His save percentage also is second behind Peremba.

“He’s been consistent throughout. Recently, his play has been magnified a bit because games are closer than they were earlier in the year,” Hoffmann said. “His demeanor is excellent. He’s methodical about what he does, and it has a calming effect on the guys in front of him. They feel like they can make the plays in front of him and not have to worry that a mistake will cost us.

“He gets the stops when we need him to. He calms the play down when we need him to. He makes it easier on us.”

McFayden is a leader by nature, like most goaltenders. The Trojans don’t have any designated captains or alternate captains, not that goalies usually wear one, but Hoffmann sad McFayden is great in the dressing room.

From a scouting standpoint, Hoffmann said McFayden is your typical modern-day, blocking goalie, who gains a lot of success based off his demeanor in net.

“He takes up space in the net and allows pucks to come to him. His mental state is there. He doesn’t get rattled,” Hoffmann said. “He’s the solid goaltender that any coach at the next level would like to have. He comes out, makes things easy on himself, is mentally prepared. He just goes out and does what he does. It may not look flashy, and he may not make those diving, desperation-type saves, but he gets the job done.”

McFayden and the Trojans return to play Tuesday against Chartiers Valley at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Puck drop is slated for 9:10 p.m.

Honorable mentions:

• Austin Martin (Mt. Lebanon), Luke Ripepi (Thomas Jefferson), Cole Bradley (Bishop McCort) — Three goalies with shutouts in the short week. Martin posted a 24-save shutout against Cathedral Prep on Monday. Ripepi made 19 saves against Sewickley Academy on Monday. Bradley stopped all 15 shots he faced Tuesday against Beaver

• Jordan McCurdy (Meadville) and Eddie Nowicki (Baldwin) — In a tight contest, both goaltenders were great. McCurdy allowed two goals on 44 shots faced in an overtime loss to Baldwin. Nowicki picked up the win, stopping 30 of 31 shots.

• Shane Peremba (South Park) and Nash Wedner (Fox Chapel) — It was quite the night for these two in a matchup between the Eagles and Foxes. Peremba stopped 47 of 48 shots faced and won the shootout. Wedner made 43 saves in the 2-1 shootout loss for the Foxes

• Devin Rohrich and Mitchell Geinzer (Upper St. Clair) — In an 8-3 win against Central Catholic, Rohrich and Geinzer both posted hat tricks and added an assist.

• Tyler Lamark (North Allegheny) — It was a three-goal, one-assist night for Lamark in a 7-1 Tigers’ win Monday against Seneca Valley

• Will O’Brien (Thomas Jefferson) — In an 11-0 win against Sewickley Academy, O’Brien scored five goals and added an assist, and teammates Riley Holzer and Colby Bilski aided the effort with five-point nights. Each had a goal and four helpers in the win

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