As the second half of the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League season unfolds, Penn Manor looks to lock down a playoff spot in the Viola Division.
Matt Gerace could key a Comets playoff run. The Lancaster Country Day senior collected four goals and two assists in nine games with the Penn Manor club, including a goal in the Comets' key 7-6 overtime victory over Annville-Cleona in the team's final game before the holiday break.
After that game, Gerace, who also plays soccer and tennis at Country Day, paused for a Q&A.
How long have you been playing hockey?
I've been playing since I was in kindergarten. I'm from Reading, so I used to play in the Twin Valley organization, and then when I got to third grade, I switched over to travel hockey. Right now, I play on the U18 A team at Lancaster for the Firebirds.
You play both hockey and soccer — which one do you play better, and which one do you like better?
I enjoy playing hockey because I've played it much longer, but I also played travel soccer when I was younger, and I also enjoy playing tennis. I feel like all three sports, even though they're totally different and involve different levels of contact, they all help me get better at each one. Thinking in different ways helps me on the ice, on the field and on the courts.
Do you have any nicknames?
Matty, Gerachi. One coach used to call me Versace because he couldn't say Gerace.
Do you have any go-to pre-game meals?
Usually, I like to eat some pasta before the game, listen to some music. I usually have a light-blue Gatorade, too.
Any music in particular?
I enjoy listening to Future and Travis Scott. It really gets me going.
Outside of the rink, what are you like? What are your hobbies?
I'm really dedicated to my schoolwork. When I grow up, I want to be an engineer, so I participate in many things like science fair. I like staying on top of my studies.
Is there any player in particular that you model your game after?
I really like Chris Kreider. Also, Mats Zuccarello. I like their hustle, even though they're completely different heights. My dad grew up in New York, so I've always rooted for the Rangers.
Do you remember your first goal?
No, but I remember one of my first goals from travel. One of my first-ever successful dekes, I was coming in one-on-two, and I remember pulling it left, and then right, and then going around the outside and deking the goalie as a squirt, which is like a third or fourth-grade level. It was one of my first travel goals, and a goal in Pittsburgh for a tournament. I just remember that, after that, it really started to build my confidence.
What's your best hockey memory so far?
My bantam A team almost had a perfect season. We went to the district A championship, where we won, 4-3. I had the third goal, and it was an incredible experience to go all the way and watch how our team grew and matured.