The ‘17 in 17’ series features an in-depth look into all 17 NA3HL teams, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Saturday, September 8th. ‘17 in 17’ will go in-depth into each 3HL team and will include interview with all 17 3HL head coaches as they prognosticate and break down their outlook for the upcoming season.
Three Rivers Vengeance
Head Coach: Brian Cersosimo
Assistant Coaches: Bob Sipe, Matt Stuber
2011-12 Record: 26-19-3, 55 pts. – 4th in East Division
Playoffs: Lost in the Division Semi-Finals to Flint, 2-0
2012-13 Division: East (2011-12 East)
Opening Night: Saturday, September 8th vs. Queen City – 7:30 pm at Blade Runners Ice Complex
With two additional opponents to the East Division this year, the Three Rivers Vengeance, previously known as the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins, have improved their roster to prepare for the high level of competition heading their way this upcoming season.
Over the summer, the Three Rivers Vengeance rebranded their team and set a new tone for what is to come. The NA3HL team decided to rebrand when the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL approached them in their efforts to start their own amateur organization. To avoid confusion, the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins agreed. After a lot of brainstorming, the name Three Rivers Vengeance came along to represent the significance of the three rivers that form in downtown Pittsburgh.
Head Coach Brian Cersosimo and his assistant coaches are anticipating the competition with the two additional teams coming into the East Division this year. “The big thing we are looking forward to is the competition. Toledo won their division last year and Michigan always plays a great game. With the returning teams in our division and the addition of these two teams (Toledo, Michigan), it will be even tougher, which will heighten the competition,” Cersosimo said.
Three Rivers will take the ice this year with three key returning players. Lone forward, Nico Vecchio will be lacing up for his third and last season with the team. Vecchico, the leading goal scorer for the team last year, is described by his coach as a hard working player who has a great focus on education and hockey. Vecchico is concentrating on being a student first at a local college, and finishing his junior career with the team.
Stephen Budkey and Thomas Leistner will be the returning defensemen for Three Rivers this season. Budkey, also in his third season will be a key player in bringing the blue line up to speed. Head Coach Cersosimo and his coaching staff have also added size and strength to the team this year and anticipate a different presence on the ice.
This preseason, Three Rivers had the chance to match up against the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL and develop a partnership for the upcoming season. “We established a pretty good relationship with the Tomahawks, which are just an hour away from us. Our two teams organized exhibition games against each other that went really well. It was very good for our rookies to find out what kind of level of hockey they may want to pursue after this year. It gave Johnstown a look at our team as well, so if they need players during the season, they don’t have to go far even if they need guys for practices, games, road trips, etc. The Tomahawks are doing a great job so far being in their first season of the NAHL. The relationship will be very beneficial to us,” Cersosimo said.
Three Rivers is also working with the Jamestown Ironmen of the NAHL to develop a similar rapport. Jamestown will be extending players to Three Rivers that they would like to develop a bit further throughout the season. Last year, Three Rivers was able to develop some players to send up to Jamestown when needed.
Last season, the Vengeance moved on young forward, Bryan Hovanec to the NAHL. Hovanec, the second leading goal scorer for the team moved on to play for the Springfield Jr. Blues this season, and was prepared for the next level of hockey after spending the past three seasons with the NA3HL team. This season, Three Rivers will continue to make player development a top priority within their organization. “We are here to develop players for the NAHL teams, when the opportunity is there; we want them to go to the next level,” Cersosimo said.
The Three Rivers Vengeance will start their regular season off at home this Saturday against the Queen City Steam.