Perhaps it was inevitable that Trevor Recktenwald would grow to love hockey.
Maybe even too perfect.
Recktenwald, a Peters Township senior who has emerged as one of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League’s top players, wasn’t raised by two puck-obsessed parents.
But when Trevor’s uncle, Mike Recktenwald, began working as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ mascot, Iceburgh, during the 1991-92 season, the Recktenwalds became a hockey family.
“We would go to a lot of the games, and I pretty much fell in love with the sport when I was young,” said Recktenwald, who started skating in second grade. “It just took off from there.”
And Recktenwald might only have tapped into some of his potential.
Recktenwald leads Class AAA – the PIHL’s largest classification – in scoring this season with 49 points, including 20 goals.
He’s a 6-2, 205-pound power forward who models his game after former Penguin Jordan Staal, except that Recktenwald wears the “C” on his chest as captain of perhaps the PIHL’s hottest team.
Peters Township has won its past six games, getting 26 points from Recktenwald during that stretch, and the Indians are poised to make a second consecutive trip to the PIHL Penguins Cup final at Consol Energy Center.
“He’s done a great job with a team that’s really young – we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the team, probably the most that I’ve ever had,” Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. “He’s putting up points. He’s a big kid with a lot of skill and a lot of determination. It’s translating into a lot of success for him.”
Which wasn’t always the case, Tingle said. Unlike most elite players, Recktenwald was cut from the varsity squad as a freshman.
“Trevor started with Peters Township as a developmental kid who was stumbling around,” Tingle said.
“Honestly, now, he’s either the best player or one of the best players in the league. He’s come a long way, in my eyes.”
Recktenwald recently signed a tender with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Prospects Hockey League, which means they own his rights and will invite him to a tryout to make the team.
The goal, Recktenwald said, is to play junior hockey instead of going the college hockey route, though he intends to eventually get there.
Recktenwald plays for the Pittsburgh Viper Stars AAA Tier I team – an elite travel hockey organization – and estimates he’s played roughly 60 games in the past calendar year, a daunting schedule but one that should prepare him well for juniors.
“It’s tiring,” Recktenwald said. “A lot of car rides home from wherever we’re playing – and I’m usually sleeping. With practice, it’s a lot sometimes. We usually get one weekend off a month from playing, and I use it to get some rest.
“By now, I’ve been doing it for four years, so I’m kind of used to it.”
On the ice, Recktenwald might be big, but he’s not just a large body; he’s a smooth skater with soft hands, plenty comfortable leading a rush or facilitating offense. His 29 assists this season are a career-best.
“I try to set up plays more than any particular scoring,” Recktenwald said. “It’s always been a pretty good attribute.”
Such success – 113 career points, 49 goals – is a testament to Recktenwald’s hard work.
And it’s got the Indians (10-4) thinking big things with a little more than a month to go before the postseason starts.
“He’s getting the things he deserves right now,” Tingle said. “I think he can go on and continue to do this at other levels, too. You work hard for something, and it pays off. It didn’t just flop into Trevor’s lap; he’s worked hard.”
Recktenwald was supposed to play alongside six Penguins in the Tomahawks Charity Classic in Johnstown … until the NHL Lockout ended, and the game was canceled. Read more about how Recktenwald handled the bad news at The Varsity Letters blog online at observer-reporter.com.