Schlegel leads Plum hockey team back to playoff contention

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Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 6:34 PM


The Plum hockey team edged Hampton in a PIHL Class AA contest Nov. 11 for its fourth win in its opening six games.

The Mustangs won three games last season.

Senior co-captain Logan Schlegel scored twice against the Talbots. A power-play tally early in the third period broke a 2-2 tie, leading to a 4-3 win that snapped a two-game skid.

“That was definitely a big win to get us back on track and give us life,” Schlegel said. “To be able to score a goal for my team is always a great feeling, no matter the situation. It was a pretty emotional game.”

Schlegel is off to his best start with a team-high 11 goals and two assists as Plum hopes to continue on an upward trajectory toward the Penguins Cup playoffs.

While Schlegel said knowing the opposing goaltender, using his shot to his advantage and getting the puck on net as much as possible have been keys to his strong start, he also points to the support system that surrounds him and his teammates.

“We are really playing well as a team,” said Schlegel, who skates on a line with senior Dan Baranowski, junior Nate McMasters and also senior Nic Pushic. “We always come to practice and work really hard. There’s no weak link among all of us. Everyone is working their hardest. No one is taking any days off. We’re always grinding and trying to get to that next level.”

Schlegel has 42 goals and 13 assists in a varsity career that began with a nine-goal, three-assist effort as a freshman for Plum, which captured the 2017 Penguins Cup Class AA championship.

“I learned so much my freshman year,” said Schlegel, who shared the title-run that year with Baranowski and Pushic.

“The older players really taught me how to work hard. They pushed me and helped make me the player I am today. I had to learn how to take a big hit and get up and keep playing. Mentally, I learned how to stay within my game. Winning that Penguins Cup title was so memorable.”

Schlegel, who plays club hockey with the Allegheny Badgers 18U AA team in the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League, scored multiple goals in five games this season, including his first career hat trick in a 9-7 win against Hampton on Oct. 21.

His 11 goals rank second in Class AA behind Latrobe’s Cole Ferri, who had 12 goals in seven games.

“Logan has matured a lot since last year,” Plum coach Phil Mains said. “He’s grown so much as a leader. I’ve ingrained in him just how dominant a player he can be. He should be the best player every time we take the ice. I think he’s taking pride in that. He’s scoring big goals for us when we need one to turn the tide, to win a game or to ice a game.”

For as much as he has accomplished this season, Schlegel said there is an area in which he needs to improve: staying out of the penalty box.

He leads the team with eight penalties and 24 penalty minutes.

“Penalties definitely can take their toll,” he said. “I have to clean that up.”

Plum gained momentum in the preseason with wins over Hempfield and Penn-Trafford and a tie against South Park at the Greensburg Central Catholic tournament.

“We learned a lot about how we work together in winning some big games,” said Schlegel, who also plays baseball at Plum. “Last year was really tough. The returning guys don’t want to experience that feeling again. We used that as motivation to continue improving and working our hardest.”

Plum rolled to a 3-0 start with 19 goals in wins over Shaler, Armstrong and Hampton.

The Mustangs then suffered a 6-2 loss to 2019 Class AA semifinalist Latrobe and a 6-0 setback to West Allegheny, last year’s Class A runner-up.

But Plum bounced back with the second win over Hampton and is in the midst of a 22-day break before its next game Dec. 2 against Moon.

“Twenty-two days is a long break, but a lot of us will stay on the ice and keep our skills up,” Schlegel said. “I feel this is just a start. Momentum is building up for the rest of the season.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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