Trib HSSN PIHL Player of the Week: Week ending Jan. 12, 2020
Sunday, January 12, 2020 | 6:39 PM
The name Tyler Stewart should be familiar to anyone who has followed the PIHL recently.
Two seasons ago, he was the TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Player of the Year. Last season, he earned Trib HSSN’s honor as the top player in Division II.
As a sophomore in 2016-17, Stewart scored 34 goals and had 19 assists. He followed that with a 44-goal, 23-assist season in 2017-18. Last season, Stewart scored 50 goals and had 26 assists in the regular season to lead Burrell, then had seven goals and three assists in the Division II playoffs.
The senior started this season with the Odessa Jackalopes in the North American Hockey League before exiting the NAHL and making a stop in the USPHL Premier with the Hampton Roads Whalers. Then he rejoined the Esmark Stars, with whom he played previously and scored more than 100 career points.
Until Monday, he hadn’t played for Burrell this season. But if anyone had forgotten about him, it didn’t take him long to re-introduce himself.
In his season debut, Stewart did something only one team had done against Carrick all season: score six goals. Carrick won 10-8, but it was quite the night for Stewart.
It was the first time first-year coach Fred Neal had seen Stewart in action live and the first night Stewart was with the team, period.
“It was pretty impressive to watch. Carrick has given up six goals one time this season, and that was to Ringgold, and he did it himself,” Neal said. “He had two power-play goals, but the big one was a shorthanded goal in the third that got us back within one. Obviously, we didn’t end up pulling it out, but everyone was enjoying it.”
Neal said the spark Stewart being on the ice gave the Bucs was apparent immediately. Burrell scored the first three goals of the game, the second on coming from Stewart’s off a feed from Gio Palombo.
Carrick then scored the next four goals before Stewart closed out the scoring in the first period to even the score. He scored the first goal of the second period on a power play to put Burrell up 5-4, but Carrick tied the score at 5-5.
Stewart struck again on the powerplay to make it 6-5. Carrick took a 7-6 lead before Stewart tied the score. Carrick took a 9-7 lead before Stewart’s shorthanded goal made it 9-8. Carrick got an empty-net goal in the waning moments of a game that reached the 1-hour, 50-minute curfew and ended in a 10-8 Carrick victory.
“Tyler is incredibly smooth. You can tell the game is going slower for him than anybody else out there,” Neal said. “When he gets the puck it, doesn’t really matter how many guys are in between him and the net or where he is at on the ice, his vision for getting to the net and his goal-scoring touch are incredible. That’s a good defense and team we played, and he made it look easy.
“It’s such an intangibles thing for him. If you didn’t know he was out there, you wouldn’t know he was out there. It’s so deceptive. He’s got a real vision for what to do when he gets the puck, and it’s so easy for him.”
Stewart will not be eligible to play in the Class B playoffs if the Bucs qualify because of a rule that states players must play a certain number of games to be eligible. But he still will be out there for the Bucs, and the six-goal performance likely won’t be his last of the year.
Burrell returns to action Tuesday at McDowell.
• Tyler Lamark, Josh Bailey (North Allegheny): The Tigers picked up a win out of the break, 5-1 against Mt. Lebanon. In it, Lamark assisted on four goals, and Bailey stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced in goal. Lamark was named an All-Star this past week as well and is one of six Tigers headed there.
• Devin Rohrich (Upper St. Clair): Rohrich didn’t score in a 3-2 over-time loss to Seneca Valley but scored four times in an 8-4 win against Pine-Richland. He was also named a Class AAA All-Star on Wednesday night.
• Trent Lunden, Kevin Cakanac (Franklin Regional): In a 5-4 shootout win over Plum on Monday night, Lunden and Cakanac, both of whom will represent the Panthers in the Class AA All-Star Game, scored two goals and had two assists.
• Eric Petika (Kiski Area) versus Ethan Isaly (North Hills): It was a good night for the two goalies in a game that went to a shootout between the Cavaliers and Indians on Monday night in Class A. Petika got the win in a 2-1 game, with 24 saves and one goal allowed. Isaly stopped 28 shots before the shootout. Both got All-Star nods as well.
• Colby Zmenkowski (Fox Chapel): The Foxes’ lone All-Star scored a hat trick and helped on another goal in a 7-3 win over Sewickley Academy early in the week before scoring two more goals and aiding another in an 8-2 win over Beaver on Thursday night.
• Brandon Nyga (Morgantown): The best goaltending performance of the week probably belonged to Nyga, who stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced in a 5-1 win over Avonworth on Monday night in Class B.
• Gio Palombo (Burrell): Stewart’s teammate had a goal and four assists in the loss to Carrick.
• Tyson Feldman (Carrick): The scoring was spread out for the most part for Carrick in the win over the Bucs, but Feldman scored two goals and had two assists.
• The PIHL All-Stars: The league announced its All-Star Game rosters Wednesday night on social media. A full list of players who received the laurels is available at https://tribhssn.triblive.com/players-selected-for-pihl-all-star-games/