The Pittsburgh Penguins along with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League honored four local high school hockey players as January’s Highmark Players of the Month during Wednesday night’s game against the Islanders.
The honorees included forward Patrick Schafer of Shaler Area, forward Brooks Behling of Mt. Lebanon, defenseman Thomas Graw of Blackhawk and netminder Lindsay Holdcroft of North Allegheny who is the first girl to receive Player of the Month honors in 16 seasons of the award.
“It’s a pretty good honor seeing as there are a lot of great players in the league,” Schafer said.
Schafer, a center with the Shaler Area Titans, scored five goals and 11 points over the past month leading his team to a 15-2 overall record to earn Player of the Month honors.
Mt. Lebanon senior Brooks Behling received the Player of the Month award once last year as well as receiving it this month for scoring 12 goals and earning a total of 17 points in five games. Behling’s older brother, Robert Behling, earned the award two years ago.
“I went last year so it’s pretty cool,” Brooks said. “Me and my brother had a competition, since he won it two years ago, to see if I could win it again and beat him.”
Blackhawk junior Thomas Graw switched from defense to forward this season, which may explain his recent scoring spree of 22 goals and 36 points in 16 games. Graw, however, was hesitant to take credit for his offensive success.
“We have some good players on the team who move the puck and made good passes I guess,” Graw said of his accomplishment.
Not only does junior goalie Lindsay Holdcroft excel on the ice, she also excels off the ice. She recorded a 2.00 goal-against average through eight games while maintaining a 4.4 grade point average in school.
“It’s really exciting,” Holdcroft said. “I didn’t really expect it, so it’s exciting for sure.”
The players were featured on the Jumbotron during the first period of the Penguins game when they were each awarded a plaque from a Highmark representative and Mark Shuttleworth, the Penguins director of amateur hockey. The players also each received four complimentary game tickets.
Each player was nominated by a coach to receive the award and a committee from the PIHL chose the honorees. The Penguins honor four PIHL players each month of the PIHL regular season.
The Highmark Player of the Month award serves as a way to connect amateur hockey with the Pittsburgh community on a large scale as well as rewarding some much deserving, hard-working high school hockey players.
“When their friends and neighbors see (this story), it makes an impact,” Penguins director of amateur hockey Mark Shuttleworth said. “I think it enhances not just the hockey community, but the whole community.”