Senior’s 7-goal game highlights Hampton hockey’s move to Class A

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Saturday, December 18, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Hampton hockey coach Luke Leya figured Logan Scanlon was bound to break out one of these nights.

Scanlon, a senior forward, was the team’s leading scorer through the season’s midpoint with 10 goals in eight games.

But Leya didn’t see this coming.

Scanlon scored seven goals in the Talbots’ 9-7 comeback victory over North Hills at RMU’s Island Sports Center on Dec. 13.

“I was waiting for this,” Leya said. “He is one of the most well-rounded kids I’ve ever coached. … I’m not really that surprised, to be honest. He had 10 goals coming into tonight’s game. He’s scoring every night. I was waiting for him to break out. I just didn’t think it would be in the manner of this.”

The Scanlon-led victory over North Hills improved Hampton to 4-7 and highlighted the Talbots’ first Class A season in the PIHL after being outmanned as a Class 2A team in recent years.

Settled into the lower division, the Talbots have already matched their win total from last season, when they went 4-14 during a covid-wracked year, and have surpassed their win total from 2019-2020 (3-15).

In the win against North Hills, which snapped a two-game losing streak, Hampton overcame deficits of 4-1, 5-3 and 7-5. Scanlon scored once in the first period, three times in the second and three in the third, when the Talbots outscored North Hills, 4-0.

“I think it says a lot about their want and their drive,” Leya said. “Coming out 4-1 after the first period, I told them that game could go two ways. We could lose 10-1, 11-1 or we could start waking up, playing and be resilient. They answered the call tonight, for sure.

“It helps when you have a once-in-a-lifetime performance from Logan Scanlon. It was just special to watch.”

Leya, a former Hampton player, said all indications point to the seven-goal night being a program record.

“I know five goals is the record as my time as a player and coach in the past 20 years,” Leya said. “I’ve never seen anybody score six goals, let alone seven. To my knowledge, he’s got to have the school record.”

The Talbots were 3-2 in their past five games entering a Dec. 20 game at Plum. They seemed to have found their footing after a 1-5 start.

“It was a little bit of a rough start,” senior defender Owen Cirlingione said, “but we practiced a little bit more, got a little better and got a little more chemistry. I think we are just playing better as a whole.”

Not much went right for the Talbots last season. But they were moved down to Class A during the PIHL offseason performance-based realignment and have found the competition more suitable.

“I think we are doing pretty good so far being in Single-A,” Cirlingione said. “It’s more of a defensive game. I feel like in this league, if you have better defense, it wins more games as opposed to offense.”

Leading the way on offense are Scanlon (17 goals, 3 assists) and junior Danny Venture (9g, 10a), who have combined to score 26 of the team’s 44 goals. They have helped ease the loss of forward Joey Pankowski, who is playing for American Hockey Academy in Boston this season after being one of the Talbots’ leading scorers last season.

Sophomores James Elk (3g,6a) and Sean Sullivan (6g,3a) and junior Cody Bianco (3g,7a) also are providing scoring punch to support senior goaltender Brendon Frankel.

Senior Rudy Ratnavale and junior Colin Hurst haven’t flinched while assuming bigger roles this season.

“This year there is definitely a better buzz, a better positivity that is humming around the group,” Leya said. “The morale is far higher this year than it was last year.”

Some of the other highlights include overcoming a two-goal deficit in a 6-4 win at Chartiers Valley on Nov. 8 and earning a 5-3 victory at Moon 10 days later.

The toughest part of the schedule is over. The Talbots have already played four games against Fox Chapel (twice), Kiski Area and Norwin, three of the top teams in Class A. As of Dec. 14, only one of the Talbots’ remaining nine games is against a team with a winning record.

The four division winners along with four wild cards qualify for the PIHL playoffs.

“Our schedule is certainly going to favor us more in the second half, which I think will put us into that playoff conversation come the (middle) to end of February,” Leya said. “I think the longer we go into the season, the better suited and better prepared we will be.”

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