The Pittsburgh Vengeance have announced they will field a Midget U18 AAA team for the 2016-2017 season. Sean Berkstresser will be the head coach of the team, with Scott Gallagher joining the Vengeance staff as assistant coach.
“We’re proud to have someone of Berky’s experience so involved in our organization. He knows what it takes to get to the next level, and that work ethic and focus is something we want to instill in our kids,” Vengeance General Manager Dave Dorsey said, “Scott’s been coaching this age group for the better part of a decade. The two of them together are going to make a great staff.”
Scott Gallagher has been coaching at the Midget AA and AAA levels since 2006, spending time with the Pittsburgh Viper Stars and Armstrong Arrows before joining the Steel City Ice Renegades in 2012. He is an alumni of the Pittsburgh Jr. Pens, and played four years of ACHA Division 1 hockey at Slippery Rock University and two seasons of semi-professional hockey with the Pittsburgh Pounders and Mon Valley Thunder.
Sean Berkstresser recently stepped away from his career as a professional player after spending eight seasons in the ECHL. Berkstresser accumulated 201 points and 590 penalty minutes over 458 games with the Wheeling Nailers (Penguins), Johnstown Chiefs (Avalanche), Greenvile Road Warriors (Rangers), and Gwinnett Gladiators (Coyotes). He was a team captain his last three years in the league. Prior to playing professionally, Berkstresser was part of the inaugural NCAA Division 1 team at Robert Morris University. He joined the staff of the Vengeance this past season as the Strength and Conditioning coordinator.
The team will participate in NJPHL showcase tournaments supplemented with an independent schedule of approximately 48 games. The coaching staff plans to focus on skill and strength development through practice and off ice conditioning, preparing players for the next level of competition.
The U18 team will hold an Open Skate on Wednesday, March 30 at 8:00pm. The skate is free, but all prospective players must register online here. Tryouts will begin Monday, April 11.
The Pittsburgh Vengeance went into the weekend trying to build some positive momentum for next year, hosting the Wolves of West Michigan for a two game set. Saturday night's game didn't go as planned, as the Vengeance fell behind early before Vincent Casale tied it up at 1-1 with assists going to Dom Glavach and Gavin Cummings. The Wolves jumped out to a 2-1 lead midway thru the second period before Perry Shiring tied it at 2-2 with an assist going to Adam Schaffer. The Wolves struck for two late goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. West Michigan scored early into the third to make it 5-2 before Pittsburgh tallied a late goal from Schaffer assisted by Brain Grant and Shiring to cut the final deficit to 5-3. Jacob Stack took the loss in goal, stopping 31 out of 36 shots.
The Lone Star Brahmas, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Alex Berardinelli has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Colorado College for the 2016-17 season.
The Pittsburgh Vengeance are proud to announce the NA3HL team has tendered two U16 Vengeance players for the 2016-2017 season. Nolan Puhala, a 1999 birth year left handed shooting forward from Plum, PA and Christopher Miler, a 1999 birth year left handed shooting defenseman from Johnstown, PA will be joining the team next year
"The entire organization and scouting staff thought these two players really excelled all year and deserved a tender," said Vengeance General Manager, David Dorsey. "We are looking at more players from the U16 team because they had an excellent year as a group."
The Pittsburgh Vengeance will charter into unfamiliar territory this weekend when they take on West Michigan at home, as they've been eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in their history after dropping two games to Toledo by scores of 3-1 and 3-0.
"We had a young group and hoped we could contend for a playoff spot but we fell into a downward spiral after the showcase," said Coach Dorsey. "We never got on track after the showcase and had no real consistency in our team game."
The Vengeance are hoping to salvage some pride with the season finale series at home versus West Michigan.
"We need guys to play well to set the tone for next year, to show the league that we aren't going to be a pushover," stated Dorsey. "It's never fun when the season ends early, and you need to use that for motivation for next year."
Pittsburgh traveled to Wooster on Friday night for the first game of a big two game series that had enormous playoff implications. The game didn't start well for the Vengeance as the Oilers opened the scoring 1:41 into the first period, setting the tone for the night. Wooster held onto a 1-0 lead after one period of play, outshooting the Vengeance 12-9 in the opening frame. Wooster added two more goals in the second period to build their lead to 3-0 going into the third period. They added a lone goal in the third period to seal a 4-0 victory. Jacob Stack stopped 22 of 26 shots for the loss in net for Pittsburgh and Adam Provaznik stopped all 5 shots he would face in late game relief.
Pittsburgh traveled to Jamestown on Friday night in a must win situation, but the Xpress had other ideas. Southern Tier jumped out to a 1-0 lead before Pittsburgh scored back to back goals to take a 2-1 lead after one period of play. Perry Shiring kicked off the Vengeance scoring on a power play goal from Dom Glavach and Anthony Szurlej, tying the game at one. The Vengeance went ahead 2-1 when Nick Lyon scored from Gavin Cummings and Elijah Williams. The second period was all Xpress as they tallied three straight goals to take a 4-2 lead after two periods of play.
"Bad puck management, undisciplined penalties and not competing hard enough were our downfall," stated Coach Dorsey. The third period was a scoreless frame, and the Xpress defeated the Vengeance 4-2 and put a serious hurt on Pittsburgh’s playoff chances. Daniel Lee started in net for Pittsburgh and gave up 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss. Jacob Stack replaced Lee midway thru the second period and stopped all 15 shots he faced.
Pittsburgh hosted Southern Tier on Saturday night at the Alpha Ice Complex hoping to get back on track. Pittsburgh outshot Southern Tier 14-6 in the first period but trailed 1-0 after one period of play. The Vengeance tied it up at 1-1 on a beautiful individual effort by Vincent Casale. Perry Shiring then put Pittsburgh ahead 2-1, with an assist going to James Stiles. The score remained that way until Southern Tier tallied the equalizer with under three minutes to play in regulation to tie at 2-2. The game went to overtime, where Casale scored his second of the game to win it for Pittsburgh 3-2 with assists Nick Lyon and Stiles. Jacob Stack blocked 19 of 21 in the net for the victory for the Vengeance.
"We competed harder and played a much desperate game tonight," said Coach Dorsey.
Pittsburgh travels to Wooster on Friday night and then hosts them on Saturday in the battle for the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Vengeance currently trail the Oilers by 2 points for the final playoff birth.
”It hasn't been pretty but we've given ourselves a chance and that's all you can ask for this time of year," stated Coach Dorsey.
Pittsburgh traveled to Cincinnati this past weekend hoping to build off their huge road upset over the Metro Jets last Sunday. Cincinnati had other ideas, and they were able to take take retribution for the Vengeance’s season opening sweep of the Thunder in Pittsburgh.
The opening game Saturday night was a back and forth affair, with Cincinnati opening the scoring in the first and taking the 1-0 lead into the locker room. The teams traded a pair goals each in the second period, and the Vengeance entered the final period of play down 3-2. After a failed penalty shot attempt by Brian Dee, James Unger tied the game with 10:39 remaining in regulation. The two sides played a back and forth overtime, but the game went to a shootout. Neither Vengeance shooter was able to solve Thunder net minder Tyler Geloneck, and Cincinnati claimed the win in the skills competition. Dee and Unger tallied a goal and an assist each in the contest, while Nick Lyon scored the other Vengeance goal. Gavin Cummings, Perry Shiring, and Brian Grant all notched assists.
The loss Saturday night made Sunday’s matinee even more important for the playoff aspirations of the Vengeance. After a scoreless first period, Pittsburgh opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the middle frame on a Dee goal assisted by Cummings and Unger. From that point on, the game was all Cincinnati. The Thunder scored four straight goals in the second period and never looked back, winning the game 4-1. Pittsburgh finished the weekend 0-7 on the powerplay, including a five minute long chance on Sunday.
”We were awful Saturday night and played one of the worst games I've ever been a part of Sunday, " said Coach Dorsey. "We had no structure or compete the entire weekend and that's pretty sad considering what was at stake. I don't want to take anything away from Cincinnati because they played well, but we didn't make hard on them at all.”
With 8 games remaining on the schedule, the Vengeance find themselves four points out of the final playoff spot in the NA3HL East. Pittsburgh plays a home and home series this weekend with the improving Southern Tier Xpress. "These are must games win and they're playing much better than us right now so it should be interesting," said Coach Dorsey. The teams open the series Friday night in Jamestown, and will meet Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Alpha Ice Complex in Harmar.
Apollo native Sean Berkstresser is returning home to the Pittsburgh area after playing 8 seasons of professional hockey. Berkstresser accumulated 201 points and 590 penalty minutes over 458 games with the Wheeling Nailers (Penguins), Johnstown Chiefs (Avalanche), Greenvile Road Warriors (Rangers), and Gwinnett Gladiators (Coyotes) of the ECHL. Now he’s looking to help the next generation of Pittsburgh hockey players reach the next level by showing them how to get the most out of their bodies.
Berkstresser recently opened a fitness facility in the Alpha Ice Complex as part of the Finish First Sports Performance Network. Finish First boasts a long list of clients from every corner of the sports world, from NFL players to MMA fighters.
“We’re looking to provide custom programs for whatever our customers need, whether it’s hockey training or speed training or just a parent trying to get in better shape,” Berkstresser said, “At this point, I’m just trying to get to know people and build relationships. I know how important it is for a player to have someone to trust and look up to and I’m looking forward to helping these kids reach their potential.”