Trib HSSN PIHL Player of the Week — Oct. 21, 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019 | 10:52 PM

Talk to any coach in the PIHL, and most will say having good goaltending is half the battle.

Most probably would say a good goaltender — combined with good play behind the blue line — can steal games.

In a lot of cases, that good goaltender is a leader in the locker room and a leader on the ice. He is prepared. He is a competitor.

It is all of that but more for some. You might not hear that goalie described he way Hampton coach Luke Leya describes his, this week’s TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Player of the Week, Jacob McGee.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of style he brings. He makes the save. He’s a gamer,” Leya said. “Being a goalie is like being a quarterback. He’s the director of the game, and a lot of pressure comes with that, whether it is wanted or not.”

McGee had his best performance in a 4-1 win Monday against Shaler.

He made 39 saves on the 40 shots he faced, and the one goal he and Leya described as kind a lucky bounce. In fact, McGee laughed about it a bit as he thought back to it.

“It was a shot from the top left point that got tipped on the way in around the faceoff circle, hit the crossbar, bounced over my right shoulder into the slot, and they had someone crashing the net. Lucky bounce right onto his stick, and he took a whack at it, and it went in,” said McGee. “Kind of a funny bounce.”

The performance wasn’t a surprise to Leya, who mentioned he and the team are going to rely a bit more on McGee after losing their top three goal scorers — Michael Orban, Matthew Commendatore and Justin Adamski — to graduation.

“He’s our only four-year senior and varsity player that we have, so we kind of knew coming in what he was capable of, especially following up last season being an all-star,” Leya said. “We knew we need to lean on him, and will have to. We’re down a couple guys to injuries and, obviously, lost some good players from last year. So Jacob giving us a chance to win is a big part of our potential success this year.”

The goal McGee allowed in the win over Shaler came in the third period. He made 12 saves during that period, giving him a combined 27 in the other two periods. That includes 17 in the second period.

The game against Shaler holds a personal attachment for McGee as well.

“It’s been chippy the last few years,” he said. “You have two close townships, so there’s a rivalry and history there. I know the guys on that team either from playing with them or against them, so we knew what is was going to be going on. I actually used to go to Shaler, too, so I always mark these games on my calendar.”

Of the game itself, McGee thought his unit played to its system.

“We did a really god job of utilizing our defensive system,” McGee said. “We made sure they didn’t have too many high-quality chances, and when they did arise, I just did my best to shut it down.”

McGee thinks that will have to be how the Talbots have to play to win a lot of games, and said he doesn’t mind it being a bit “boring” or having to face a healthy amount of shots.

“Last year, we could win games 7-6, but we can’t really do that this year,” McGee said. “We have a couple returning forwards and some (defensemen) as well, so we’re trying to buckle down. We have to keep our stamina and avoid collapsing late.

“I don’t mind facing more shots if they aren’t all high-quality chances. I’d rather face 40 shots from the point than 20 from the slot.”

Leya said McGee has stepped into a leadership role as wel, and he expects his success to continue.

McGee and the Talbots return to action Monday against Plum at Frozen Pond Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:10 p.m.

Honorable Mentions:

• Goalies with Shutouts (Multiple Teams): Latrobe’s Vinny Amatucci led the way this week with a 31-save shutout of Hempfield, as the Icecats won 7-0. Also with shutouts were Peters Township’s Joey Nelson (16 saves against Butler), Cole Hoffman of Seneca Valley (22 saves versus Mt. Lebanon), Mars’ Danny Mitchell (17 saves in win against Quaker Valley) and Eric Petika of Kiski (16 saves versus Freeport)

• Our first PIHL Player of the Week, Quaker Valley’s Colin Rice, turned in a 31-save performance in a 2-1 Quakers win over South Fayette

• Nick Bandi (West Allegheny): Bandi scored three goals and added two assists in a 7-2 Indians win against Montour in Class AA

• Riley Holzer, Will O’Brien (Thomas Jefferson): Holzer scored a hat trick and had an assist, and O’Brien had two goals and three assists in the Jaguars’ 7-1 win over South Park

• Cole Ferri, Alex Walker (Latrobe): Ferri recorded six points in the 7-0 win over Hempfield. Walker added a five-assist, one-goal effort in the same game

• Quinten Shaffer (North Catholic): The Trojans defeated Blackhawk, 7-4, in large part because of Shaffer’s two-goal, three-assist night

• Michael Vasko (Elizabeth Forward): Vasko also had a two-goal, three-helper night as the Warriors defeated Trinity, 6-4

• Quentin Miske (Fox Chapel): Not many separated themselves from the scoresheet for the Foxes in a 17-2 win besides Miske, who scored twice and assisted on three others for this week’s TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Team of the Week

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