2019 PIHL Class AA East home openers
When Canada came calling for Jared Gerger, he couldn’t resist.
The recent Hempfield graduate accepted an offer to continue his hockey career with the Trenton Golden Hawks in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“It was definitely cool to receive an offer from them,” he said. “I didn’t really expect it, but it was a cool experience to have.”
When Gerger makes the trek north across the border to Trenton, Ontario, in August for the Junior A hockey league, he won’t be alone. Three of his teammates from the Pittsburgh Predators amateur team will join him. Bethel Park’s J.C. Bele, Mt. Lebanon’s Wyatt George and Connellsville’s Ryan Brown accepted offers to play for the Golden Hawks, as well.
“The coaches came to see us play in a tournament up in Boston in May, and we did well,” Gerger said. “That’s really when I got noticed. Having some buddies go with me definitely makes it easier going away from home. I’ve been playing with them, and we have some chemistry together. It’ll definitely be cool to stay with them.”
Gerger had some other offers to play for various junior teams, but was eager to join Trenton.
“There were a couple different organizations that have been showing interest,” he said. “I think that league fits my game the best. That’s why I chose there. I am excited for the challenge to play with people of higher capabilities and see how I can do against them.”
Gerger excelled during his senior season with Hempfield. He notched 28 goals and seven assists in 14 games during the regular season for the Spartans. Hempfield fell to Pine-Richland, 8-4, in the first round of the PIHL Penguins Cup Class 2A playoffs. The Rams captured the Penguins Cup and the state title this spring.
“We made playoffs and did not get the result we wanted, but it was a good season,” he said. “If we were going to lose to anyone, I am glad we lost to them since they won it all.”
Gerger, Bele, George and Brown were part of a group of PIHL players who came together to lead Team Pittsburgh to the past two America’s Hockey Showcase tournament titles in St. Louis. Gerger added 34 goals and 36 assists in 40 games for the Pittsburgh Predators this season, as well.
Gerger, a right winger, is eager to join his Trenton teammates Aug. 19. He will live with a billet family in Canada.
“Moving away is a little scary, but I think having other teammates from my team this year will make it easier,” he said.
The OJHL season runs from September and playoffs wrap up in April. Teams play a 54-game schedule in the regular season. Gerger has two years of Junior A eligibility and hopes to earn a college scholarship.
“I think college is the best option for me,” he said. “Right now, I’ve just been working out and staying on the ice a couple days a week, just trying to get ready for the season. I definitely just want to get there and bond with my teammates, then try to win as much as we can and go far in playoffs.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.