Win total shows growth of Hampton hockey

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Saturday, March 12, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The PIHL season can be a long five-month grind.

Hampton’s schedule started Oct. 4 and ended Feb. 28.

The Talbots switched from Class 2A to A during the PIHL offseason performance-based realignment as members of Varsity Northeast Division.

Fox Chapel sailed through the division with a 19-0-1 record. Freeport, Plum and Hampton battled for second place all year.

The Talbots finished 7-13 and out of the PIHL playoff picture. They were outscored 107-74.

But there were highlights.

Senior forward Logan Scanlon netted seven goals Dec. 13 in Hampton’s 9-7 come-from-behind victory over North Hills. It is believed to be a team record for goals in one game.

“I was waiting for this,” Hampton coach Luke Leya, a former Hampton player, said after the game. “He is one of the most well-rounded kids I’ve ever coached.

“I’m not really that surprised, to be honest. I was waiting for him to break out. I just didn’t think it would be in the manner of this. It was just special to watch.”

Scanlon led the team in scoring this season with 22 goals and 10 assists, as the Talbots won as many games in 2021-22 as they did in the two previous years combined.

Daniel Venture, a junior forward, ranked second offensively with 15 goals and 13 assists.

A few other highlights included overcoming a two-goal deficit Nov. 8 in a 6-4 win against Chartiers Valley and earning a 5-3 victory against Moon 10 days later.

The nine-goal outburst versus North Hills was Hampton’s best offensive showing of the season. The Talbots also scored eight times Jan. 31 in an 8-4 win over Wheeling Park.

And while the Talbots did not post any shutouts, they weren’t shut out themselves all season.

Other leading offensive contributors included sophomore forwards James Elk (5 goals, 14 assists) and Sean Sullivan (13 goals, 4 assists), senior forward Adam Dembowski (8 goals, 6 assists), senior defenseman Owen Cirlingione (2 goals, 12 assists) and junior defenseman Cody Bianco (4 goals, 10 assists).

Elk was the team leader in assists (14).

Dembowski has played hockey for 13 years and was a four-year varsity starter at Hampton.

“I thought we played well this season,” he said. “Some nights we played with heart and hung with teams that, on paper, were more talented. Every game was competitive and I’m proud of the team’s improvement over the course of the season.”

Dembowski is a three-sport standout; he also plays football and baseball. He was a 5-foot-11, 180-pound wide receiver/defensive back on the Talbots’ football team, which ran the table at 10-0 during the regular season, and has started in center fielder on the varsity baseball team since his freshman year.

“As a senior, my message to younger athletes would be to cherish the time they have left in their high school careers, work hard and never lose their love for the game,” Dembowski said.

The Talbots’ defensive corps this winter was anchored by the likes of Cirlingione, Bianco, juniors Isaak Zech and Erica Gynn and sophomore Andrew Bagnato.

The 5-10, 155-pound Cirlingione used to split time between forward and defense.

“While having about a quarter less of a team than others, I thought we did really well and played to our potential every game,” Cirlingione said. “We had about 12 or 13 skaters every game and we battled hard every period. Our players had different skills and capabilities and we used those to our advantage in our games to help us.

“This season would have been nothing without our coaches, Luke Leya, Eric Leya and Mike Sirocca. They’re great coaches and have taught me a lot about playing hockey through the years, and I have to thank them for being so good at it.”

With just five defensive players, Cirlingione, Bianco, Zech, Gynn and Bagnato rotated all season.

“We all played together as a defensive unit and tried to keep the puck out of net at all times,” Cirlingione said. “We all had our own sets of skills: Cody is good at hitting, Erica at passing, Andrew at keeping the puck wide and away from the net, Isaak is strong at moving people in front.”

Cirlingione said his forte on defense is his ability to shoot the puck and his passing.

Hampton goaltender Brendon Frankel finished with a 7-12 record, 5.07 goals-against average and .857 save percentage this season. The senior netminder turned back 574 of 670 shots.

The Talbots have five juniors, six sophomores and a top freshman, forward Mason Vinciguerra, to build around for next season.

They will miss the six seniors on this year’s team, namely Scanlon, Frankel, Cirlingione, Dembowski, and forwards Kenny Troy and Rudy Ratnavale, who played defense for three years before switching to offense this season.

The four division winners along with four wild cards qualified for the PIHL playoffs in Class A.

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