Trib HSSN PIHL Player of the Week: Week ending Feb. 23, 2020
Sunday, February 23, 2020 | 9:50 PM
It has been an interesting season for Plum.
Because of reasons such as travel hockey, the Mustangs rarely play a game with a full roster.
When they do, they are good, and despite roster size and other roadblocks, Plum has won the PIHL Class AA Northeast Division.
The Mustangs also have talent.
Senior Nic Pushic is one of those talented players.
He has been a consistent scorer for Plum, and he posted a seven-point game Monday in an 8-5 win over South Fayette.
Pushic scored six goals and had an assist in what coach Phil Mains said was an “incredible night.”
“I told the guys I’ve been around hockey a long time, and I’ve never seen a night like that,” Mains said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a guy score six in a game, but he scored six without shooting the puck over like 10 mph. They were a couple of beautiful setups and a couple of just him undressing the goalie. He’s one of the handsiest guys I’ve seen.”
Mains said Pushic’s line occasionally plays together on a travel team, but it really has played well for Plum. Pushic is joined by Dan Baranowski and Nick McMasters on a line. McMasters had five points against South Fayette, and Baranowski assisted on two goals.
Pushci scored twice on the power play.
“We wanted to see what that line could do, and they’ve been incredible the last few games. We certainly hope it continues,” Mains said. “Nick hasn’t missed much time, and he’s come on strong. He’s fast, and it opens up things for himself and his linemates.”
Mains said Pushic always has been a playmaker.
“We’ve been trying to get him to shoot more,” Mains said. “He can get around everybody, and he can set people up. There’s times he’ll find himself in a good scoring position, but he will look to set someone else up. It’s coming along. He’s set himself up to make plays.
“With this line, he’s found himself open a bunch more and has almost had no choice but to put the puck in. It’s sometimes tougher to get guys to shoot more than to pass, but I love where his splits ended up.”
Pushic, an alternate captain, has 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) heading into the postseason in just 11 games.
“He’s a great leader but not a rah-rah guy,” Mains said. “He complements our other leaders well. He’s always going to show up and work hard. I’m super happy for this group with where we’re at, and he’s a big part of that.”
The Mustangs (9-8-0-1, 19 points) have the division title wrapped up and have shifted their focus to a home playoff game.
“It’s a testament to these kids wanting to leave their stamp on the program,” said Mains. “We’re excited.”
Pushic will look to continue to make an impact when the Mustangs play in the postseason. It’s a safe bet he can.
After all, Pushic has five games of three or more points this season.
Mitchell Geinzer (Upper St. Clair)
Geinzer continued his great stretch of hockey with a three-goal, three-assist performance in an 8-1 win Monday over Butler before scoring twice and adding three assists in a 5-3 victory Thursday against Pine-Richland.
Gunner Fulton (Franklin Regional)
Fulton’s 43 saves in a 5-1 win Monday against West Allegheny was a big-time performance in a big spot. The Panthers are tied with Hempfield for a playoff spot in the Class AA Southeast Division. Franklin Regional plays Greater Latrobe in its final game of the regular season, and the Spartans will take on Hampton.
Matt Traczynski (Hempfield)
In a meaningful win for the Spartans, Traczynski scored four goals and helping on two others in a 10-7 win Tuesday against Penn-Trafford.
Danny Mitchell (Mars)
The Fightin’ Planets have two games left after a 4-1 win Thursday night against Hampton, in which Mitchell stopped 36 shots to keep Mars in the playoff hunt.
Colby Bilski (Thomas Jefferson)
Bilski had a six-point night with two goals and four assists in a 10-1 win Tuesday over Wheeling Park.
Tyler Stewart (Burrell)
He won’t be able to play in the upcoming playoffs, but Stewart continues to aid the Bucs’ position as he scored four times and assisted on two other goals in a 10-9 win Monday night over Central Valley.
Jon Chopp (Trinity)
In a season-ending performance, Chopp stopped 56 shots in a 4-3 shootout win over Carrick in Class B action.
Jordan McCurdy (Meadville)
Shane Peremba (South Park)
Chris McFayden (North Catholic)
Zachary Ott (Bethel Park)
These were the four goalies with a shutout last week. McCurdy, in a 7-0 win over Moon, stopped 20 shots. Peremba was 1-1 during the week but made 21 saves in a shutout Thursday of North Hills. McFayden made 29 stops in a 5-0 win versus Freeport on Tuesday, and Ott made 15 saves against Central Catholic on Thursday in a 3-0 win for the Blackhawks.