Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trinity Hockey Is 'Open' for Business

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trinity Hockey Is 'Open' for Business

Article excerpt

The hockey program at Trinity High School came into the 2004-05 season with a problem; 10 seniors who had guided the Hillers to the only two playoff appearances in the program's history had graduated and there weren't enough players left to even hold an intrasquad game.

Furthermore, Hillers coach Larry Marks had stepped down due to health reasons and the board's recruitment of Paul Kelley to replace him failed, causing the Hillers to be without a coach.

In seasons past, such a high school hockey program would have likely been doomed to compete on the junior varsity level if at all. But 2004-05 marks the beginning of a new "Open Division" in the PIHL, which allows teams in Trinity's situation to continue to compete on a varsity level and even, theoretically, play for the Penguin Cup (Western Pennsylvania championship) title.

"[The Open Division] was designed and promoted by the PIHL to be a cure for programs in our situation," team president Garvin Putt said. "There are a lot of teams that could not field a team ... We, by all rights, should not even have a varsity team after losing 10 seniors."

Thirteen teams play in the Open Division, featuring teams from all enrollment classifications and locations stretching from the Pittsburgh City League to the West Virginia panhandle. Teams in the division play a schedule of games against each other and can actually qualify for the Penguin Cup playoffs if they meet certain requirements.

First, the team must comprise players solely from the school it is representing. Ringgold and Valley, for instance, are actually co- op teams that take on players from neighboring high schools.

Second, the school must be located in Pennsylvania. Finally, there must be two other teams from a school's enrollment classification competing against it in the Open Division.

Trinity, therefore, is actually competing for a berth in the Class AA Penguin Cup playoffs this year because fellow AA schools Carrick and Chartiers Valley are in the Open Division with them. Should they finish with the best record among these schools, they'll play the 14th and final seed in the AA playoffs in a play-in game. …

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