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North Pittsburgh girls hockey squad cruises through first-half schedule

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 8:58 p.m.
The North Pittsburgh Wildcats' Lauren Mudrany, right, knocks the puck off the stick of the Indiana Chiefs' Ashley Yanni during a Girls 14U game Dec. 22, 2012, at BladeRunners in Warrendale. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
The North Pittsburgh Wildcats' Izabella Hays scores a goal against Indiana Chiefs goaltender Madison Barker during the first period of a Girls 14U game Dec. 22, 2012, at BladeRunners in Warrendale. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
North Pittsburgh Wildcats Madeline Kessy controls the puck while being defended by the Indiana Chiefs' Ashley Yanni during a Girls 14U game Dec. 22, 2012, at BladeRunners in Warrendale. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA

Before the start of the 2012-13 season, North Pittsburgh girls 14U head coach John Mudrany told his players he had two expectations for them.

He wanted his hockey players to be the hardest working in practice and in games and to have fun playing the game.

“I think they really took that seriously,” he said.

“We have as much fun dancing as we do skating, and that attitude helps them remember that it is a game, and our fun is the reward for the hard work.

“North Pittsburgh has had fun so far this season, and the hard work produced a 9-0 record in the Girls 14U division of the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League through the end of December.

In those nine games, the Wildcats outscored their opponents, 54-3.

“We're lucky to have a group that can play at a pretty high pace,” Mudrany said.

“A lot of these girls have played together for a while. We found out that some of the other organizations aren't as deep and have had trouble keeping up with us for three periods. That's a tribute to our hard work and dedication in practice.

“North Pittsburgh faced rival Indiana for the first time Dec. 22, and the Wildcats scored a 5-1 victory. Indiana came into that game 8-1 and had scored 41 goals over its first nine games.

A 4-1 advantage in the first period put North Pittsburgh on its way.

“I don't think they were ready for the pace that we play,” Mudrany said.

“They were a little overwhelmed, especially in the first half of that game. We kept coming at them shift after shift. No one took a shift off.

“They were really looking forward to that game. We kept an eye on Indiana while we were playing the other teams. They wanted to come out and show what they could do. It was our biggest game of the year so far, and they played their best game.

“North Pittsburgh and Indiana were scheduled to meet again this past Saturday, and the teams will play two additional times before the end of the 16-game regular season Feb. 16.

“The girls set a goal at the beginning of the year that they wanted to win the banner,” Mudrany said.

“We lost the championship last year to Morgantown, and that left a pretty sour taste in their mouths. They wanted to come back and finish what they started last year.

“It's easy to have some challenges in the locker room, especially with girls at that age. But they really get along and are there for each other. Some players have become the top scorers, but they get excited for some other players to score.”

In addition to their quests in PAHL play, North Pittsburgh ventured out to play two tournaments, including a Tier II preseason event in Cleveland in September.

“It was good for us to play at a little higher pace,” Mudrany said.

“We got to face some Canadian teams and some teams from western and upstate New York where hockey is a little deeper.

“Mudrany said a Thanksgiving Tier II tournament, hosted by Pens Elite, gave his team an idea of how much they improved from the preseason.

“We didn't win any games, but we played at a much different pace (than the preseason tournament), and it was a good challenge for our girls,” Mudrany said.

“They didn't get down on themselves in those games. Even though the score wasn't in our favor, they continued to put in the hard work. It was a good experience for them even though the results weren't what we hoped for.”

Michael Love is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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