Player Profile: Dick Pilato

Hello everyone and welcome to the final week of the FHL regular season! In today’s player profile, we sit down with a member of the Mighty Moose from Munhall, Dick Pilato. Dick thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.

Any time for the FHL. It's a pleasure being part of this wonderful organization.

With one game remaining in the 2016/17 FHL season the Moose control their own destiny, with a win (or Mustangs loss) they will be this year’s President Trophy winning team. Talk about what that would mean to the Moose organization in such a competitive league. I know it’s only a league of 4, but still an impressive accomplishment and another banner to potentially hang in the rafters.

I think it means a lot. I realize that many view this as primarily a playoff league, but we're all competitive guys and want to win every week. This year in particular I think it's a honor for our guys to finish atop the league knowing that we've done so largely without the presence of our franchise player Tony Bonacorso, and had to bounce back from a tough stretch in the season where we lost four in a row.

You have always been known as a solid defensive defenseman, but this year you set a new career high in goals. Was working on your offensive game something you focused on in the off season?

I'm always trying to get better, and I do feel that my passing and stickhandling in particular have improved steadily. As far as scoring goes, I think it's just a result of getting more opportunities to shoot. I've gotten more comfortable this season with jumping up into the play and carrying the puck in myself, rather than always staying at home on the blue line.

There is always added pressure on franchise players and first round picks to help lead their teams, and you have definitely emerged as one of the best leaders on and off the ice. How do you handle that added responsibility/pressure? It must help having Zack, who will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time greatest captains to learn from.

It's great playing for Zack, because he's got such a great handle on how to operate a successful FHL franchise, but I have no problem lending a hand. I have played on a lot of sports teams growing up, and have been named a captain on nearly all of them, so I'm very comfortable taking a leadership position. I also ran my own FHL-inspired hockey league at my own high school for a few years, so that experience taught me a lot.

As mentioned before, the Moose look to close out the season on top and extend their current 5 game winning streak. As the playoffs near, you've been finding ways to win with different lineups every week, missing key guys like Bono, Z, Cristallini, John George, Nay and even goaltender Jamie Zelena. Talk about the depth of the Moose and how veteran guys like yourself, Hall, and Simpson have helped keep the team in the win column.

Well I can't say enough about guys like TJ Hall and Tom Simpson, who have been there nearly every week and always play really hard. Tom has done a great job moving between forward and defense when needed, and TJ even stepped in net and got a win for us a few weeks ago. We have some other guys too like my brother Gino, Cam Tichon, Gabe Phillips, and Alec Italiano that have stepped into bigger roles when needed and played really well for us. We have great depth and feel comfortable using it, which only allows our top line guys to go harder.

We always like to ask about having family members as teammates, and in many cases we have had the “I would rather play against, than with” response, but I have a sense that’s different with you. Thoughts?

Definitely with because there are enough of us to fill a full forward line and defense pairing if we're all there and on the same team. There's me and Gino, the Siniawski brothers, and our cousin Brandon Paluzzi, who played a little defense for the Moose early on this year before hurting his shoulder. Although it is fun playing against them too.

In your years at the FHL, what is your favorite memory? Maybe a particular game or series?

Definitely the FHL Finals game 5 in 2014, when I won the cup as a member of the Jets. We played Games 3, 4 & 5 on the same day, and the deciding Game 5 went into I think triple overtime, maybe quadruple. Myself and Tom Simpson played defense the whole time because we were short on bodies. I came off the ice only once, and it was because my hamstring cramped up so badly I could barely move.

Ok last but not least our favorite part of the interview… quick hitter time:
Favorite (non family) FHL player: Joe Rogers
Favorite FHL team of all time: The Moose
Toughest player to play against: Faiello. I block a lot of shots and his hurt the worst.
Toughest goalie to play against: Craig Hixon
Favorite NHL player: Brent Burns
Favorite sports teams: Penguins, Steelers, Pirates, Pitt Panthers
Favorite WWE Superstar: Dean Ambrose

Dick thanks again for your time today, and all the time you’ve dedicated to the league this year with helping ref and updating the box scores each week. Best of luck to you and the Moose the rest of the way! That’s all for this week’s Player Profile. Be sure to be on the lookout for a season wrap-up and playoff previews. Thanks and god bless the FHL!

About FHL: Franklin Hockey League

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