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Vikings Hockey Sees Success in St. Margaret's Fall Face Off Preseason Tournament

Preseason play at the St. Margaret's Fall Faceoff at Alpha Ice Complex

The Central Catholic Vikings varsity hockey team started the preseason with a strong performance in a long-standing tournament that draws the top schools from the area.

Dubbed the “St. Margaret Fall Face-off,” this tournament has served as an unofficial start to the high school hockey season in Western PA. Each year, over the course of one week in early September, 16 teams – four varsity teams in four divisions of “pool” play – face-off for bragging rights … but the real winner is the St. Margaret Foundation and all who it serves.

Since 1993, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL) has sponsored this pre-season charity tournament at Alpha Ice Complex in Harmarville, PA to raise money and awareness for the St. Margaret Foundation. 

This year, preliminary games began on Tuesday, Sept. 5 and ran through Thursday, Sept. 7. After 30 preliminary games – all of which were held at Alpha Ice Complex – the winner of each “pool” advanced to the semi-finals and championship game, which was held on Monday, Sept. 11 at 5 pm and 9 pm, respectively.  To accommodate 30 games over three days, most of the practice ice time for amateur and school teams who call Alpha Ice Complex home is “blacked out” to accommodate the needs of this long-running PIHL charity tournament.

This year, the Central Catholic Vikings Hockey Club faced Shaler, Baldwin and Mt. Lebanon in preliminary round play.  The team won its first game against Shaler, suffered an overtime loss to Baldwin in game 2, and etched a win in game 3 against Mt. Lebanon.  The Vikings made it to the semi-final and lost in a hard-fought game to Pine Richland, the eventual tournament champion.

Through this tournament, PIHL raises several thousand dollars annually for the St. Margaret Foundation, giving it the means to “help St. Margaret patients with the essential needs not covered by insurance yet are necessary to heal, remain independent and have hope.” For more information about the foundation’s programs, please see:

Central Catholic Varsity Head Coach James Eller talks to his team as they take on Shaler in Game 1 of the St. Margaret's Fall Face-off

A Vikings varsity player goes for the puck in Game 3 of the St. Margaret's Fall Face Off against Mt. Lebanon

The Vikings varsity squad prepares to take on Shaler in Game 1 of the St. Margaret's Fall Face-Off

Vikings Hockey Club Names Interim Head Coach

Mr. James Eller has been named interim head coach of the Central Catholic Ice Hockey team for the 2023-24 season.  Eller served as an assistant coach and has been instrumental in the team's success through the 50th Anniversary celebration in the 2022-2023 season.

He succeeds Bill Connelly, '04, who has transitioned to become the interim men's hockey coach at Chatham University.  We thank Coach Connelly for his years of coaching at Central and welcome Eller to lead our program.

50th Anniversary Banquet: A Perfect Way To End A Historic Season

The Central Catholic Vikings Hockey end-of-season banquet was held at the Edgewood Country Club on April 16, 2023. 

Attended by more than 200 players, families and friends, the club was also honored to welcome Central Catholic High School Principal Michael Andrejko, alumni Bob Arturo, Fred Jacob and Steve DiGiacomo.

The club was especially honored to welcome Max and Susie Sciullo, the parents of Paul J. Sciullo II. At the banquet, the club honored the memory of Sciullo and presented his parents with a pledge of nearly $13,000 -- resulting from fundraising through the course of the season -- for the Paul J. Sciullo Scholarship Fund for the children of first responders. 

During the course of the evening, the coaches honored a number of players for their academic and athletic accomplishments during the course of the season.  

Finally, last but not least, the club recognized its 18 graduating seniors, the largest graduating class in club history. 





In a tense, hard-hitting and exciting battle between the two top seeded teams after the PIHL regular season, first-seed Central Catholic JV-1 hockey team defeated second-seed North Allegheny, 3-2, in the Tier 1 junior varsity championships on Tuesday, March 28 at Ice Castle (Castle Shannon, PA).

After a scoreless first period, Aaron Williams put Central Catholic on the board first at 1:41 of the second period. He was assisted by DJ Burek and Christian Zavacky. North Allegheny tied it up less than a minute later. At 11:49 in the second, Ricky Castracani, with an assist from Aaron Daley, got the go-ahead on a shot from the point. 

Early in the third, the Tigers notched their second goal to tie the match.  The Vikings never let up and, at 2:53 in the third, Adam Sarkis tallied the eventual game-winner. He was helped by Daley and Burek, each of whom ended up with two points on the night. Goaltender Tom Puhalla faced 21 shots.

To get to this championship round, your Vikings hockey team defeated Bethel Park in the quarterfinals (4-1) at Ice Castle on March 14.  Goals were scored by Jay Donahue, Clayton Kepperling, Cain Phillip (short-handed) and Zavacky. Assists were notched by Captain Joe Silvaggio, Sarkis, Jake Ochwat (2), Brayden Lewinter, and Kepperling. The Vikings defense soldiered any attempts that Bethel had offensively, only allowing 11 shots to get through to goaltender Ben Balla.

The battle to excise the demons of the 2022 PIHL Championship loss was facing the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils in the semi-finals on home ice -- and in front of a large crowd -- at Alpha Ice Complex. After a slow start that saw Lebo's Jackson Bell taking the Devils up 1-0 early in the first, it was all Vikings thereafter.

Goals were scored by Jack Marcello, J. Donahue (2), Daley. It was an all-team effort and assists went to Luke Jesso, Dan Donahue, Antonio Moret, and Castracani. Puhalla stopped 27 shots on goal. 

Second-seed North Allegheny's path to the final took it through Peters Township (2-0) and Pine Richland (5-0). While Central Catholic finished the regular season in the number one spot with 11 wins, North Allegheny was knocking on the door with 10 wins -- including one against the Vikings.  Central Catholic faced North Allegheny twice early in the regular season  -- tying them once (3-3) and losing once (4-3).  

Ultimately, Central Catholic got their first win over NA when it mattered the most!


Adam Sarkis sneaks the game-winner, 3-2, underneath the NA goalies's pads in PIHL championship game. Phot by Simply Sisters Photography.

Adam Brophy reaches back to take control of the puck in 4-1 win over Mt. Lebanon. Photo by Stephanie Green, Simply Sisters Photography.

A sweet victory over Mt. Lebo. Photo by Stephanie Green, Simply Sisters Photography.

Adam Sarkis celebrates after getting the game-winner. Photo by Simply Sisters Photography.

Netminder Tom Puhalla stops a Blue Devil challenge cold. Photo by Stephanie Green, Simply Sisters Photography.

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Central Catholic Vikings Hockey Club is proud to have celebrated our 50th Anniversary during the 2022 - 2023 season!  Check out our 2022-23 news page for info about how we celebrated this exciting milestone. 

(Keep our website and social media (Facebook and Instagram) on your "speed dial." Should be a lot of fun!! Roll Vikes!!

To learn more about Vikings Hockey Club's past seasons, please see our comprehensive 2021-2022 Vikings News page. 

Curious about other seasons? Please see the 2020-2021 Vikings News page under the "History" tab in "About Us" on the main menu.

Each year goes by so fast ... we will try to archive our activities as best we can! 

Go To: Vikings Hockey 2021-2022 News!

Interested in following everything that Vikings Hockey has been doing this season? Go to the Vikings Hockey 2021-2022 News Page and check the program out!

Thank you to our 2022-2023 CCVHC Sponsors!

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The CCVHC 1987 Varsity Team

The players collectively sponsored the December 17, 2022 Paul J. Sciullo II Memorial Game & Alumni Game.

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Coach Pat McQuillan sponsored the January 30, 2023 varsity game versus Mt. Lebanon.

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