PIHL Player of the Week for week ending Nov. 24, 2019
Sunday, November 24, 2019 | 11:45 PM
It’s been a sluggish start for Thomas Jefferson’s second-leading scorer from the 2018-19 campaign.
Junior Eddie Pazo has only played in six games while missing some time for travel hockey.
Beyond that, he’s a big part of the talented junior class for the Jaguars.
Maybe it just takes one goal to get him going.
In Thursday’s 10-5 victory over Greensburg Salem, Pazo scored five goals and assisted on what turned out to be the game-winner to post a season-high six points.
In fact, the six points were more than Pazo had in his first five games combined.
He had five points coming in, and left with 11.
“They just started to go in. A few games prior he just couldn’t buy one,” TJ coach Bill Crousey said. “He’s got a great shot, and he’s a great goal scorer. He was frustrated, but (Thursday) was just one of those nights that they went in for him.”
The Jaguars (8-1) are in first place in their division in Class A thanks in large part to the impact of Pazo and junior classmates Hunter Fairman, Riley Holzer and Will O’Brien, to name a few.
In the win over the Golden Lions, Fairman, Pazo and junior Ryan Kelly were on the same line.
After Thomas Jefferson fell behind 2-0, Holzer scored on an assist from O’Brien. Then Pazo notched his first on an assist by Fairman, the first of his five helpers.
O’Brien scored again and a second time after Pazo’s second goal, before Kelly scored what would turn out to be the game-winner at 9:31 of the second period. Pazo then scored the next three goals for the Jaguars.
“I think the change in the lines, though slight, put some life into them and especially Eddie,” Crousey said. “He’s had some great chances all year long, but I’ve just kept telling him to not change what he is, which is a scorer.”
Pazo had 32 points last year, just behind then-senior Hayden Hintemeyer.
Pazo and the other juniors have had to uptick their production and step up.
“That whole class has stepped it up. They understand they’re a big part of our team and know it’s up to them to lead our team,” Crousey said.
Crousey said he knows more is coming from Pazo, especially with the playmakers on his line now.
“He sees the ice really well. At times he’ll take the shot from the outside when there may be another play to be made, but he’s getting better at even that,” Crousey said. “If that line plays like it did the other day, watch out for what they will do.”
The six-point night is something Pazo is capable of, and Crousey says he a vocal player and a good leader in the dressing room.
“He’s really dedicated himself to try and get better. He runs our power play, and he’s an important part of our team,” Crousey said. “The hard work is really paying off.”
Pazo and the Jaguards get back to action Monday against Sewickley Academy.
• Greg Irons (Latrobe), Ethan Isaly (North Hills), Seth Faulkner (Cathedral Prep), Sean Dugan (Carrick), Shane Peremba (South Park), Alex Mitchell (Connellsville) — These were the goalies with shutouts last week in PIHL action. Irons made 11 saves in a 6-0 Icecats’ win over Meadville Monday. Isaly stopped all 22 shots he faced in a win over Westmont Hilltop. Dugan made 24 saves against Morgantown for Carrick. Faulkner played in two games, with his 35-save shutout over Seneca Valley being the better of the two by far. That was SV’s first loss. Peremba is making shutouts a regularity. He stopped all 16 shots he faced in a 3-0 Eagles win over Blackhawk. Finally, Mitchell had a 17-save shutout vs Central Valley Thursday.
• Cole Ferri (Latrobe) — In two wins last week, Ferri was a big piece for the Icecats. In Monday’s win, Ferri notched a hat trick, then followed it up with a two-goal, two-assist performance Thursday against South Fayette.
• Tyler Weekley (Wheeling Park) — In a 15-3 win against Wheeling Catholic, Weekley scored two goals and assisted on three others.
• Spencer Abraham (Wheeling Park) — It was a four-goal, one-helper night for Abraham in that same 15-3 win.
• Geoffrey Baker (Wilmington) — Baker scored once and assisted on four other goals in a 9-5 loss to Burrell.
• Gio Palombo (Burrell) — In his first action of the year, the standout on last year’s national runner-up in the open division scored five times and assisted on the would-be game-winner against Wilmington Monday. He scored a goal in a shootout win for the Bucs Thursday, as well.
• Trent Lunden, Kevin Cakanac (Franklin Regional) — Both of these Panthers scored three goals and had an assist in a 7-4 win over Armstrong.
• Hunter Fairman (Thomas Jefferson) — Fairman assisted on five goals in the Jaguars win over Greensburg Salem last week.
• Tyler Lamark (North Allegheny) — Lamark scored once and had four assists Thursday in his better game of the two he played, but also had three helpers in a win for the Tigers on Monday.