Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Macs to Field Two Varsity Teams in Pihl This Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Macs to Field Two Varsity Teams in Pihl This Season

Article excerpt

The Big Macs just got bigger.

Too big, in fact, for merely having one varsity hockey team.

In what PIHL commissioner Ed Sam said is a league first, one school will operate two varsity teams. A power in recent years at the Class AAA level, Canon-McMillan will have a team in the Open Class in addition to its team in Class AAA.

"They have a large program, and this just allows more kids to play without turning them away," Sam said. "It gives more kids an opportunity to play varsity hockey."

Canon-McMillan went 19-3 last season and advanced to the Penguins Cup semifinals. The Big Macs were Penguins Cup finalists in 2011 and won the title the previous season at Mellon Arena.

Canon-McMillan coach Yuri Krivokhija has enjoyed deep rosters in recent seasons, and this season he and his staff will have a second roster to draw from. Sam said that players on the Open Class team will be eligible to be "called up" to the Big Macs' Class AAA team as needed.

The Open Class is a developmental classification designed for programs that are trying to get their numbers up. Many teams are cooperative agreements between schools that combine in order to have enough players.

Sam said three other schools were "real close" to adding an Open Class "farm team" of sorts.

The PIHL in 2012-13 will feature 12 teams in Class A, 14 in Class AA and 15 in Class AAA. Bishop Canevin (Class A to Class AA) and Peters Township (Class AA to Class AAA) are voluntarily playing up in class; otherwise, the format invokes splitting the number of schools into thirds based on registered PIAA enrollment.

There are 22 teams in the developmental Open Class, which is in its final season of existence. Open Class teams are permitted to form cooperative agreements with nearby schools to complete a competitive-sized roster.

Frazier's new hockey program includes a varsity team that will play in the Open Class. After a hiatus without a varsity team, Altoona rejoins the classification. Deer Lakes similarly sat out varsity-level competition last year but is back in Class A this winter.

Fox Chapel is a surprising omission from the varsity alignment; just two seasons ago, the Foxes had the best regular-season record in Class AAA. …

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