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Two U18 Esmark Stars Named to Post-Gazette Stellar Six

By DLG, 03/27/24, 12:15PM EDT


Alex Thomas and Jacob Stock Honored

Pittsburgh, PA - Two members of the 2023-24 Esmark Stars U18 Midget AAA squad have been recognized by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as part of the Post-Gazette's Annual Stellar Six Hockey Team for their work in the Pittsburgh Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL).

Alex Thomas, Norwin High School, and Jacob Stock, Thomas Jefferson High School, were both selected as members of the top six local high school players and make up 1/3 of the squad for the 2023-24 season.

Thomas, selected as the 2024 Post-Gazette Stellar 6 Player of the Year, has been a dominant player ever since he stepped on the ice for the Knights. He led the team to its first PIHL Class 1A Penguins Cup title and a berth in the state championship game two years ago as a sophomore, led the PIHL in scoring as a junior and, despite moving up in classification, led the league again this season.

He is the first player in PIHL history to lead the league in scoring in consecutive years while playing in two classifications.

If that wasn’t enough, on Jan. 20, he was in Greeley, Colo., on the ice and in uniform playing junior hockey. Thomas played in a home game for the Colorado Grit of the North American Hockey League against the New Mexico Ice Wolves.

“It’s honestly been a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “I never expected any of the junior things. It was a dream at first, and becoming a reality, it was extremely exciting.”

As a sophomore in the 2021-22 season, Thomas showed flashes of what was to come. He finished in the top 25 in the PIHL in overall scoring and 13th in Class 1A with 21 goals and 35 points. However, it was in the postseason when he really came into his own. He finished with four goals and seven points in three playoff games, including a pair of goals in the Knights’ 5-0 victory against McDowell in the Penguins Cup final to win the program’s first championship.

Last season, he took his place among the best in the area. In 18 regular-season games, he scored 38 goals, added 32 assists for 70 points and added four goals in two playoff games, including a pair in a 7-3 loss to Fox Chapel in the semifinals. He also was selected to the Stellar 6.

Norwin appeared to be set for a second title in three years in Class 1A before news came down the Knights would be moved up to Class 2A as part of the league’s annual realignment.

Despite the tougher competition in the higher classification, Thomas still led the top three classes of the PIHL in scoring with 32 goals and 61 points. He had 19 points, including a league-high 14 assists, on the power play and scored four short-handed goals.

Norwin made it to the Class 2A semifinals before bowing out against rival Penn-Trafford.

Even so, Thomas already saw his future when he went to Colorado to play for the Grit. And he has a pretty good idea what to do to succeed at the next level and the legacy he’s leaving behind.

Stock led the PIHL Class 2A regular-season co-champions Jaguars with 45 points and was a key to Thomas Jefferson winning their second Penguins Cup title in three years. He had five-point nights, including hat tricks, in both the Penguins Cup semifinals against Franklin Regional and the championship game against Penn-Trafford. After being shut out in the season opener he scored in every game he dressed for this season.

- Credit, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Keith Barnes, Tri-State Sports and News Service

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