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Burrell hockey program gets major boost in numbers

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Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch Burrell's Dominic Bussard passes the puck to teammate (right) Jonathan Schueler during hockey practice at Valley Sports Complex in New Kensington on Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012.
Top high school sports
By Jesse Huba
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012
 

Burrell hockey is back. Only this time, it's for real.

After years of a lack of interest in the program, Burrell hockey has numerous players in the pipeline and is poised for a resurgence in PIHL hockey.

According to Burrell Hockey Club president Dave Schueler, there are more than enough students interested in playing and getting it back to the varsity level.

“We've actually had to turn kids away this year,” Schueler said. “We have a junior varsity and a freshmen team, and we've turned kids away at both levels.”

Schueler said that the Bucs hope to have a varsity team next year, as well as a JV and freshmen team. This group of young players hail mostly from Lower Burrell, but they also have players from the Penn Hills, Riverview, Highlands, Valley, and Leechburg school districts.

“Most of these kids play travel hockey as well,” Schueler said. “They play in amateur associations and already had a team to play on. The big change is that we are working with the Ice Renegades in Harmar, and the Vipers that play out of this rink, to get more of the amateur kids into our program.”

Bob Carroll is back as the Burrell coach this season and says he expects to have enough players to field both a PIHL varrsity team and an independent team for next season. Since the team has players from different communities who have to travel to the rinks, Carroll credits their parents for support.

“There's a lot more parent involvement in hockey teams, and they have been great,” Carroll said. “You can only do as much as the parents help out.”

Last year, Burrell's freshmen team went without a victory to finish at 0-16. However, Schueler expects the team to compete at the JV level. The team already has shown that it can score by winning their season opener, 6-4, against McDowell last week.

It may be too early to tell who Burrell's top threats will be this year, but Brandon Scholz and Cam Johnson are projected to lead the way for the Bucs' JV squad. For Burrell's freshmen squad, Schueler said to watch out for Jonathen Schueler and Nick Kaminski.

The interest in the team is so great that Burrell plans to have a developmental team next year with younger players in kindgergarten through sixth grade.

Tryouts for next year's teams will be around the end of May or beginning of June, according to Carroll.

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