Trib HSSN PIHL Player of the Week for Nov. 18, 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019 | 10:48 PM

For the first time this season, Class B, formerly Division 2 in the PIHL, has a forward as the TribLIVE HSSN PIHL Player of the Week.

It’s not been because the classification hasn’t had its fair share of scoring or impressive games.

The Ringgold Rams, last year’s champions, have four of the top five scorers in Class B, all of which have at least 16 points.

There isn’t a Class AAA player with 16 points through play Sunday, Nov. 17. There are seven in Class AA and 11 in Class A.

So the scoring has been there in Class B, but the goaltending in all four classifications has as well.

This week, Elizabeth Forward played two games, and the classification’s leading goal scorer was very good in both.

Michael Vasko, in a 1-1 week for the Warriors, had six goals and four assists.

It was two more games in a line of good ones for Vasko, who leads the class in points by four, and is tied for both the goals lead and assists lead.

“He’s a very smart hockey player and he has a ton of experience,” coach John Zeiler said. “He plays every role for us and he’s been awesome this year. He’s a great leader, he knows how to position himself and he knows how to protect the puck and create opportunities.”

The senior also has three hat tricks now, with two this past week.

In the Warriors’ 11-9 win over Bishop Canevin Monday, Vasko had a game-high six points.

He scored the game’s first goal and fourth goal, then assisted on the sixth, as Elizabeth Forward led 5-1 after one period.

“Vasko came in off the get go and had the first goal of the game. He sniped a shot from the top of the circle,” Zeiler said. “Michael has a, to me it’s like an NHL shot. He leans on the stick and he really lets it fly. The game was a little frustrating, but Michael just kept making plays. He’s a leader. He makes big plays in big times.”

Both of his first-period goals came in even-strength situations.

Vasko did not score in the second, then assisted on two goals, including what turned out to be the game’s winner. He also scored an insurance goal to complete his hatty.

He followed it up with a very solid performance Thursday despite a 5-4 Warriors loss to Trinity.

Vasko scored EF’s second, third and fourth goals. He assisted on the other, thus factoring in on all four of the goals for the Warriors in the overtime setback.

That’s the second time Vasko has done that this season, and he’s come close a couple of times.

In the opener against Trinity, he scored twice and assisted on three other goals in a 6-4 Warriors’ victory. He factored in on five of the seven goals in the Warriors next win Oct. 21 against Connellsville. Then he aided in the efforts on four of five goals in a loss to Ringgold. In an 8-1 loss to Carrick, Vasko scored the only goal.

“We challenged the few seniors we have to take a big leadership role and show the younger guys the ropes, and Michael has done that,” Zeiler said. “He does it on and off the ice. He’s been awesome.”

Vasko and the Warriors return to action Tuesday, Nov. 26 against McDowell.

Honorable mentions

Erick Petika (Kiski), Vinny Amatucci (Latrobe), Robbie Halyama (Seneca Valley) and Josh Ferry (West Allegheny) — All four goalies had shutouts last week, as goaltending, both inside and outside of these four, continues to shine in the PIHL. Petika made seven saves against Beaver in a 9-0 win Tuesday, Amatucci stopped all 13 shots he faced in a 7-0 Icecats win Tuesday against Shaler, Halyama stopped all 16 against Canon-Mac on Monday, and Ferry posted a 25-save shutout against Mars on Monday, as the Planets won 4-0.

Seth Faulkner (Cathedral Prep), Chris McFayden (North Catholic), Shane Peremba (South Park) and Danny Stauffer (Pine-Richland) — These four had the next-best goaltending performances last week. Faulkner stopped 45 shots and allowed two goals in a shootout win over Mt. Lebanon for the Ramblers. McFayden, who was honored by the league as a player of the month, stopped 28 of 29 shots in a 2-1 win over Peremba’s Eagles on Tuesday, a game in which Peremba made 39 saves. Stauffer denied 26 of 27 shots in Pine-Richland’s 6-1 win over Central Catholic on Thursday.

Cole Ferri and Alex Walker (Greater Latrobe) — Both players had five-point efforts in the Icecats’ 7-0 win against Shaler on Tuesday. Ferri had two goals and three assists while Walker did the reverse, posting three tallies and two apples

Will O’Brien (Thomas Jefferson) — O’Brien, Class A’s leading scorer, had the luxury of playing in two games this past week and was the top scorer in both. He scored a hat trick in each win for the Jaguars, and added three assists.

Brad Bujdos (Ringgold) — Bujdos had six points, three goals and three helpers, in a 9-2 Rams’ win over Wilmington.

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