Thomas Jefferson hockey says goodbye to remarkable seniors
By: Ray Fisher
Saturday, March 23, 2019 | 9:14 AM
The seniors on the Thomas Jefferson hockey team wrung out heralded career numbers in their time.
Counting the regular and postseason, the five seniors attained 60 wins in their careers at TJ.
“That’s the highest total from any group to graduate from the program in my nine years of coaching,” TJ coach William Crousey said. “They will be missed.”
The senior class was represented this year by forwards Hayden Hintemeyer, Johnny Rimsky and Joey Oliver and defensemen John Piscitelli and Paul Chonko.
The Jaguars ended the regular season 15-3, one game behind South Fayette (16-2) in the Class A South Division.
“The team had a very successful regular season,” Crousey said. “The record was a result of a great team effort with everyone on the roster making a contribution throughout the season.”
Hintemeyer led the squad in scoring with 28 goals and 29 assists.
Rimsky racked up 10 goals and 24 assists. Piscitelli finished with 26 points (16, goals, 10 assists), and Oliver accounted for 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists). Chonko tacked on one goal and one assist.
Three of the upperclassmen — Hintemeyer, Rimsky and Piscitelli — were selected for the PIHL all-star showcase event.
TJ exploded for a season-high goal total in a 14-2 win against Freeport in the first round of the PIHL playoffs, then followed with a 4-1 victory against Meadville in the quarterfinals.
Montour edged the Jaguars, 6-5, in overtime in the semifinal round.
“The team played very hard, but we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, something you can’t do versus a team as good as Montour,” Crousey said. “Hopefully, the team learns from that and we fix it moving forward.”
A group of solid sophomores helped spur the Jaguars to their successful season.
Crousey lauded the improvement displayed by goaltender Luke Ripepi, forwards Riley Holzer, Eddie Pazo, Luke Rayman, Hunter Fairman and William O’Brien, and defensemen Jacob Gardiner and Brady Rotolo from the beginning of preseason practice to the end of the playoffs.
“The biggest surprise this season was to see how much the sophomore class improved,” Crousey said. “The play of two freshmen was also unexpected. Nick Stock (forward) and Brett Smith (defense) played key roles in helping us have such a great year.
“The seniors did a great job in helping those players understand what it takes to be successful.”
Ripepi registered a 17-4 record, facing 508 shots, allowing 67 goals and posting one shutout. His goals-against average during the regular season was 3.16; his save percentage stood at .867.
For his efforts, Ripepi was named to the PIHL Class A All-Star squad.
Pazo was TJ’s second-leading scorer with 20 goals and 19 assists. Fairman (eight goals, 20 assists) and Holzer (15 goals, 12 assists) contributed. O’Brien chipped in with 10 and 14; Rayman added 7 and 11.
The Jaguars averaged 6.5 goals and allowed an average of 3.2. They won eight of their final nine games before the playoffs.
“If everyone returns and we can add a few freshmen who can contribute, we should fine moving forward,” Crousey said.
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