Bethel Park and Pine-Richland are two of the top seeds in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League playoffs.
And Kenny Lehmann and Andrew Hildreth are big reasons why the Black Hawks and Rams are the top teams in Class AAA and Class AA, respectively.
Bethel Park’s Lehmann and Pine-Richland’s Hildreth joined Norwin’s Phil Gigliatti and Meadville’s Patrick Leone as the PIHL Highmark Players of the Month for February. All four were honored at Thursday night’s Penguins game against the New Jersey Devils.
In the North Division, Hildreth, a senior goaltender, posted a 1.00 goals-against average through five games, establishing a save percentage of .957. He helped the Rams to a 20-1-1 record. He was between the pipes last year as Pine-Richland won Penguins Cup and state championships.
“It’s a great honor to get this award. It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s nice to finally get this award because some of my teammates had it before. I knew my time was coming.
“We are defending our title. I’d like to win again my senior year. We had one loss in the last game of the regular season. Looking back, I think that helped us refocus for the playoffs.”
In the South Division, Lehmann, a senior forward, recorded five goals and 12 points in five games last month. He is Bethel Park’s leading scorer. The Black Hawks are unbeaten on the year (20-0-1).
“It feels great to be here. All my family was here and my team,” he said. “We have to keep it going in the playoffs. We have some tough opponents to worry about in the playoffs. There are a lot of good teams on this side of the state. We just have to keep working hard every day in practice and hopefully it’ll pay off at the end.”
In the East Division, Gigliatti, a junior left winger, recorded 10 goals and 11 points in February. He led Norwin in goals, points, power play goals & short-handed goals.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I think it’s the first time in a while that a Norwin player has received this award. We’re didn’t have a good year this year, but next year we’re hoping to step it up and compete with the top teams.”
In the West Division, Leone, senior right winger, recorded eight goals and 13 points in February including four goals in a seven-point effort vs. Shaler. Meadville’s co-captain, he is only two goals short of reaching the 50-goal plateau for his career.
“It’s just wonderful that the Pittsburgh Penguins support hockey throughout Western Pennsylvania. It’s really a great honor,” he said. “We have a tough game coming up next against Erie McDowell and we’re going to have to keep playing pretty well. I hope I can play well and help out our team.”