Thomas Jefferson sends trio to PIHL all-star game

Saturday, January 27, 2018 | 12:08 AM

Matt Krieger has enjoyed an outstanding all-star career in the Thomas Jefferson hockey program.

Krieger, a senior forward, was selected to the PIHL all-star game for the third consecutive year.

The PIHL event took place Sunday with four games at Robert Morris' Island Center.

Krieger was named to Team White in the Class A game along with TJ's Brendan Crousey and Hayden Hintemeyer.

“All three are big reasons why the team has done well so far,” veteran Jaguars coach Bill Crousey said. “I use them in every situation to help the team win. All three have the same ability to make teammates better players on the ice.”

With one game remaining (Jan. 25 against Beaver, the results of which were unavailable for this edition) prior to the all-star break, Thomas Jefferson was tied with Indiana with an 11-3 record, trailing Bishop McCort (15-0), Meadville (13-1) and West Allegheny (12-3) in the Class A standings.

Krieger, a fourth-year varsity player, accounted for 11 goals and seven assists in 10 games.

“Matt's skill level is great, but I think what separates him from others is the level at which he competes. He gives everything on every shift,” Crousey said. “Matt's top skill is his ability to skate and stick handle at top speed. Most kids are slower when handling the puck; Matt is able to maintain his speed, which makes him hard to defend and catch.

“To be selected to three straight all-star games speaks volumes of his abilities on the ice. He is one of the strongest skaters in the league, and he uses that to help at both ends of the rink.”

Krieger also plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins 18U team in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League and spends most of his weekends in the winter traveling to showcase events. He missed the PIHL all-star games as a sophomore and junior and will be in Boston during this season's all-star games.

“Being selected the past three years is an honor,” Krieger said. “I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my teammates and coaches. I've always been busy with travel and haven't been able to attend, but I still appreciate being noticed by the other coaches.”

Teams play four games each weekend in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. At the end of the season, the top 16 teams advance to the playoffs and compete in Minnesota for the league championship.

Krieger has traveled to cities such as Philadelphia, Cleveland, Columbus, Buffalo, Chicago and Phoenix for Tier 1 EHL games.

“It is a very skills(-driven) league with high pace and physicality,” Krieger said.

After high school, Krieger plans to continue his career by participating in junior hockey.

“Even though that would push back when I would attend college,” he said, “it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to continue to play the game I've been playing since a kid.”

Hintemeyer is a junior forward whose skating and puck-handling abilities are two of his hockey strengths.

“Hayden is a strong skater with good vision,” said Crousey, who is in his eighth season as the Jaguars coach. “His off-ice commitment to getting stronger has allowed his overall game to improve. He has used that, along with his elusive skating, to keep possession of the puck — which has led to him getting more points and being a strong two-way player.”

Hintemeyer leads the team with 12 goals and 14 assists.

“I'm very appreciative to be named an all-star,” Hintemeyer said. “I don't think I could've gotten to this point if it wasn't for my teammates. Everybody has been doing their job and playing their role this year, which has had a reflection on our record. I'm happy to see the hard work I've been putting in is paying off for me and my teammates.”

Hintemeyer, who also competes for the Pittsburgh Predators 18U AAA team, has played since he was 10. His linemates with the Jaguars are Kevin Koett and Johnny Rimsky.

“I couldn't have gotten to this point (as an all-star) if it wasn't for my teammates, and especially my linemates Kevin and Johnny,” Hintemeyer said. “Since the beginning of the year, we knew we would have to develop a style of play that was fitting for the three of us. We kept working on different tactics and set plays that could help ensure success during games.

“We like to use our speed and puck movement to our advantage. Cycling the puck down low has always been a strong suit to my line's game, for sure. We hope to carry our momentum and confidence into the postseason,” Crousey's son, Brendan, is a senior defenseman and second-year all-star selection.

“Brendan uses his hockey smarts to put him in the right spot on the ice to help the team, both offensively and defensively,” coach Crousey said. “His passing and shooting is very good, which helps his teammates all over the ice.”

Brendan Crousey, a fourth-year varsity player, owns a high hockey IQ thanks to growing up around the sport. His deft passing touch has helped him rack up a team-leading 16 assists in 12 games.

“It's a true honor to be named an all-star in a league with so many amazing players,” he said. “This year has been a great year for me. And I hope to showcase my talents alongside the best of the best in this all-star game.”

Team White will be coached by Bishop McCort's John Bradley and Indiana's Jordan Haines.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.


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