Shaler hockey will lean on offensive depth, senior leadership
Shaler senior defenseman Nathan Boch didn't think long on what the Titans hockey team's strength would be.
“Definitely our offense,” he said. “Our offense has good depth.”
Determining how strong things are at Boch's position remains a work in progress. Shaler, which opened its PIHL Class AA schedule Monday against Penn-Trafford at Center Ice, lost several defensemen to graduation.
“We have a couple players that are willing to step back and play,” Boch said. “A couple have fully stepped back to play defense now.”
The Titans, under first-year coach Steve Stayduhar, will try to make sure that group is well conditioned. To start the season, Shaler will have five defenders — Jason Fischerkeller, RJ Fisher, Spencer Platt, David Cerra and Boch — rotating every other shift.
Fischerkeller (four goals, 12 assists), Platt (one, seven) and Boch (three, four) appeared in 16 or more games last season. Cerra played in eight.
Helping the new guys get their feet will be goaltender Wyatt Wolf. Wolf gained a lot of experience last season, compiling an 8-9-1 record and finishing with a 3.58 goals-against average.
Making sure everyone is in position around Wolf is the challenge.
“Make sure they stay in position and hold their ground in front of the net,” Boch said.
Shaler, which finished 10-10-1 and won its first-round playoff game last season, averaged 4.5 goals per game and ranked sixth among all teams in Class AA in scoring.
The Titans bring back their top two scorers from last season: Mitchel Fuchs and Seth Walzer. Fuchs finished with 18 goals and 14 assists, and Walzer had 17 goals and 11 assists.
Zachary Sarnowski, who had a team-high 16 assists, also will provide depth.
During a scrimmage against North Allegheny last week, the Titans kept everyone involved.
“We work out all summer, and hopefully I get some endurance,” said Stayduhar, who played for the Titans' 1990 WPIHL championship team. “It seems to be working. We have a workout plan that tracked everyone's progress. We're trying to be sure to utilize the full team. We scrimmaged (North Allegheny) the other night and rolled 10 forwards through, so we're not just going two lines.”
Having Boch and the defense step up will make Shaler a tough out.
“Senior leadership,” said Stayduhar on the team's strength. “Off-hand, I think we have nine or 10 seniors. That's a lot.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.