Trib HSSN PIHL Team of the Week: Hampton Talbots

Sunday, February 3, 2019 | 5:57 PM

Three unbeaten teams entered this past week’s action in the PIHL.

One survived: Division II’s Burrell. The other, Montour, from Class A, fell to Meadville on Monday.

This week’s TribLIVE High School Sports Network PIHL Team of the Week knocked off the previously-unbeaten, and top-ranked Pine-Richland Rams Monday night, to hand the Rams their first loss of the 2018-19 PIHL season.

In the process, the Hampton Talbots won their third straight contest and second in a row against a team in front of them in the standings in Class AA.

The Talbots bested Pine-Richland, 4-3, in a shootout, after climbing back from down 3-0.

“That’s probably the best team in the PIHL regardless of classification. They are an all-around team, they’re deep and they do everything well,” Hampton first-year coach Luke Leya said. “The thing for us was just sticking with it. We’re a team that plays to its opponent for better or worse. We talked about finding where we could exploit them in the intermission, and we thought if we could get one or two in, we might catch them off guard a bit. The kids never gave up.”

Pine-Richland scored three goals in the first period, two of which came within 16 seconds of each other midway through the period from William Studt and Brandon Kashur. Brandon Will added the third tally for the Rams at 12:05 in the first.

After both teams failed to score in the second, senior forward Justin Adamski got the scoring started at 5:40 in the third for the Talbots. Adamski then scored again on the power play about three minutes later to bring Hampton within a goal. Senior forward Michael Orban tied the game at 10:40 in the third.

The top unit of Orban, Adamski and senior forward Matthew Commendatore factored in on all three of the regulation goals for the upset-minded Talbots.

“We put them together early in the year, and there’s been no thought of breaking them up,” Leya said. “Commedatore sets both those other guys up and he just makes plays. Orban understands the moment in the game when you need one. Justin might be one of the best all-around guys in the PIHL behind Tyler Stewart at Burrell. It’s been so fun to watch those guys play.”

Both teams had chances in the overtime period.

“Ultimately, it came down to us hitting the post, and Jake McGee making a big save in overtime to get to the shootout, and once we got there, Jake has proven why he’s evolved so well as a goaltender,” Leya said.

McGee stopped 41 of the 44 shots he faced during the game after giving up the three in the first period. Leya said if it wasn’t for his efforts, Hampton wouldn’t have had any shot to win.

“I think he stopped the last 34 shots he faced,” Leya said. “I was on the staff two years ago when we took him in as a freshman. He’s evolved so much. In the game Monday, he played tremendously well. He’s been electric.”

Leya said he’s had to tell McGee he doesn’t have to save every shot but if he gives the team a chance to win, they’ll do that relatively often.

Adamski scored the game-winning goal in the shootout for Hampton after scoring in the Class AA All Star Game the night before.

Now, Leya said, it’s time for the Talbots to build off the win.

“We have a lot of work left to do,” Leya said. “We’ve got three of four left against division opponents. I think the biggest thing for us is continuing to find our game. We’ve been doing that better recently so hopefully it leads to a few more big wins before the playoffs.”

The puck will drop on Hampton’s next game at 9:20 p.m. Monday. It’s the Talbots’ senior night, and they’ll host Quaker Valley, which is still looking for a way in to the PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs in the Northwest Division.

PIHL Honorable Mentions (week of Jan. 28):

In Class AAA, both Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon scored clinchings of a home game in the first round with wins. Mt. Lebanon defeated Butler, 6-0, Monday before Bethel Park defeated the Golden Tornado Thursday, 5-2. Also, Cathedral Prep picked up a big win for positioning over first-place Peters Township, 5-3, Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Class AA, Upper St. Clair picked up two wins, defeating Hempfield Monday and Armstrong Thursday. Franklin Regional drew within a point of a playoff spot with a 6-4 win over Penn-Trafford Monday, while Mars clinched a home game with a 5-4 win Monday against Quaker Valley.

In Class A, West Allegheny ran away with a 12-3 win against Freeport on Monday, while Meadville knocked off Montour, which was previously undefeated, 9-6, Monday.

Finally in Division II, Burrell inched closer to the division’s top seed in the playoffs with an 8-1 win against McDowell. Central Valley clinched a playoff spot with a win Thursday against Bishop Canevin.

Kyle Dawson is a freelance writer.

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