Lower Merion defender Sam Pitonyak is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

A junior alternate captain, Pitonyak is considered the leader of Lower Merion ice hockey team’s defense, leading the team in minutes played and playing in all situations, power play and shorthanded especially. Last winter, as a sophomore, Pitonyak was voted the club’s Most Valuable Defenseman.  He is also a defenseman and alternate captain for his AAA hockey team, the Jr. Flyers, for whom he has scored seven assists and three goals (as of the beginning of January).  He also has served as an ice hockey referee for a season, and last spring was the only referee for the all-day ice hockey fundraiser supporting Alex’s Lemonade Stand, volunteering his time to work  the six youth hockey games throughout the day. Off the ice, Pitonyak also plays lacrosse for Lower Merion, where he takes all honors  or AP classes this year and has been an honor roll student every semester of high school.

Q: You are considered the leader of Lower Merion’s defense. Tell us a little about your responsibilities as the leader of the Lower Merion defense. What do you think has been the team’s best defensive effort of the year to date, and why?

A: Our defensive unit is extremely young and the major responsibility I hold is helping them on and off the ice and showing them the ropes especially early in the season because some haven’t played high school hockey before. The best defensive effort this year has to be the 4-4 tie against Conestoga because we had very little experience playing together but we were able to contain the Conestoga forwards.

Q: You were an ice hockey referee for a season and in the spring you were the only referee for the all-day ice hockey fundraiser supporting Alex’s Lemonade Stand, working the 6 youth hockey games throughout the day. What has been your most memorable experience as a referee – can you share it with us?

A: The most memorable experience has to be getting heckled by parents because it brought a new perspective to refereeing and what referees go through on a daily basis.

Q: Are there any hockey players who you really admire, and why?

A: I really admire Winnipeg Jets defensemen Dustin Byfuglien because of his physical play and has a great shot from the point.

Q: You’ve scored 10 points (as of Dec. 30) as a defender for your club team, the Junior Flyers. What do you think are the most important attributes of a good defender?

A: Attributes that make a good defender are good vision on the ice and being decisive in very critical situations.

Q: You are an alternate captain for both Lower Merion and the Junior Flyers. Can you give an example of how you can best display leadership as an alternate captain?

A: My leadership is best displayed before the games helping both of my teams get mentally prepared for the games.

Q: Last October, your club team won the championship of the Can Am hockey tournament in Lake Placid, and during the final game, you had three assists to help lead your team to the championship. Can you share with us your most vivid memory of the Can Am hockey tournament?

A: The most vivid memory I have from Lake Placid was winning the championship because we had battle with the same team in round robin play leading to a tie, so a win in the championship game was great.

Q: Who have been your biggest ice hockey mentors, and what was the important thing each of them taught you?

A: My biggest hockey mentor has been my dad because he’s always giving me advice to help improve my game and the major thing I learned is that when I take his advice and try it in games, it ends up benefiting not only me but my team.

Q: During your ninth grade season with the Haverford Hawks, your Hawks team won the championship of three different tournaments, including one in Helsinki Finland. Tell us a little about the Finland tournament – what was your most memorable experience over there?

A: The most memorable experience in Finland has to be training at the Finnish Olympic training facility. We stayed in their dorms and were able to practice and play games on their rinks.

Q: I understand you’d like to play ice hockey for a college program. What do you think you’d like to major in at college?

A: Right now I’m thinking about majoring in Business.


Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved in at Lower Merion other than ice hockey and lacrosse?

A: I am part of a program called Bulldog Ambassadors at my high school were we help students new to the district learn their way around the school and help them out so they can feel included in school activities.

Fun facts – Sam Pitonyak

Favorite book: A Farewell to Arms.

Favorite author: Ernest Hemingway.

Favorite TV show: The Office.

Favorite movie: Dazed and Confused.

Favorite athlete: Wayne Simmonds.

Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Leave by Post Malone.

Favorite team: Philadelphia Flyers.

Favorite place to visit: Vermont.

Favorite pre-game meal: Angel hair with olive oil and chicken.

Favorite color: Blue.

Birth date: March 23, 2000 in Wynnewood.

Family: Will (brother), Ellen (mom), John (Dad).

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)

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