The Pittsburgh Penguins honored eight players as Highmark High School Hockey Players of the Month during the first intermission of the Penguins’ contest against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center
Bethel Park’s Christian Siak and Greater Latrobe’s Shane Brudnok were honored as Players of the Month for January, and Quaker Valley’s Ryan Dickson and Ryan Lottes, North Allegheny’s Bradford Thornburg and Charlie Johnson and Greater Latrobe’s Robert Vasinko as Players of the Month for February. State College’s Stefan Horgas was not present on Tuesday, but was also named a Player of the Month for January.
The Penguins and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield honor high school players of the month four times each season.
Horgas, a senior forward, was nearly unstoppable in January, racking up an astonishing 22 points (12G-10A) in seven games for State College. He netted four goals twice, helping the Lions cruise by Cannon MacMillan, 7-3, and Hempfield, 11-3.
Siak, Bethel Park’s junior forward, lit up his competition in eight January games, scoring 21 goals (three game-winners), which was three more tallies than Bethel surrendered over that span. His January goal total was more than all but four PIHL players have netted through the entire season.
“It’s great that the Penguins get to let us all come out here and recognize high school hockey,” Siak said. “It means a lot to all of the players and it means a lot to me, so I’m glad I got to come out here and do this.”
Brudnok, Greater Latrobe’s senior goalie, put up a 1.6 goals against average and .925 save percentage in five January games. He shut down opposing offenses through five January games, allowing two goals or less four times, including a shutout against North Hills on Jan. 28. The 18-year-old netminder also impresses off the ice, taking time to instruct Latrobe’s freshmen and junior varsity players during their practices.
Dickson, a senior forward, racked up 15 points (8G-7A) in six February games for Quaker Valley. He scored multiple goals in three February contests, while netting at least one in five of six. Finishing his career with 87 goals, Dickson led the team with seven in the playoffs, helping to build the foundation for the Quakers’ 2013 Class A Penguins Cup Championship.
“Even though we play in front of maybe 100 people, it’s nice to get out there in front of thousands,” Dickson said. “Toward the end of the year I just put the puck in the net a lot and tried to help the team any way I could.”
Lottes, a junior defensemen, finished February with 8 points (2G-6A) in six Feburary games for Quaker Valley. Lottes wreaked havoc while in his own end, playing against the opposing team’s top lines and captaining Quaker Valley’s penalty kill. The Quakers shutout three opponents in February and allowed two goals or less in all but one contest.
Thornburg, a junior goalie, produced a 3.5 goals against average and .864 save percentage in four February appearances for North Allegheny. He geared the Tigers towards their eventual 2013 Class AAA Penguins Cup Championship.
“You dream of being on that ice once,” Thornburg said. “To come out and be on it again just a couple weeks after playing on it is incredible.”
Johnson, a senior forward, led North Allegheny in scoring with 10 points (6G-4A) in five February games. He recorded at least one point in each game and paced the Tigers with a hat trick in an eye-opening 12-0 win over McDowell.
Vasinko, a senior defenseman, scored two points (1G-1A) in five February games, but led Greater Latrobe with a plus-11 rating. Vasinko, one of Latrobe’s assistant captains, guides the Wildcats’ younger defensemen and consistently performs well academically.
“To be recognized in front of 18,000 fans, that’s a lot of people,” Johnson said. “It’s just a great thing that the Penguins do here. I want to thank them for having us.”