With small roster, Greensburg Salem hockey counting on conditioning, will to win
Depth might not be an asset for Greensburg Salem's hockey team. But you can count determination as a strength.
Nevertheless, with only 13 players on the varsity roster, the Golden Lions are facing an uphill battle this season.
“I guarantee every single one of my 13 players loves that challenge, though,” Greensburg Salem coach John McNair said.
McNair is a new coach for the squad but not new to the personnel. He's been involved coaching this group for a while.
“I've been in coaching for 10 years, and I've coached them all. I know every personality,” he said. “They give me their best all the time. The one thing I take pride in, even if we lose big, they do not quit at all.”
The team's competitiveness will be important. The Lions hope to be a tough out for any foe.
“Everybody will be tired after a game. Our conditioning is really helping us, but we do need to get more conditioned. I think the kids know that,” McNair said. “They don't like to lose. It's nothing they're going to accept, and they'll keep battling. We lost our first game 8-2, and we were still trying to score a goal with 30 seconds left.”
Up front, Greensburg Salem usually goes with two forward lines. Zack Szolek and Garison Andolina are the centers.
“We have a good corps of talented forwards and two really good centers. The problem is, they are on the ice every other shift,” McNair said.
Brendon Linderman is the team's top returning scorer. He had 11 goals and 21 points last year. Andolina (8 goals, 14 points) and Szolek (8, 12) were next.
“We have a great core of offensive talent. If they could get a breather, I think they'd do better,” McNair said. “Our numbers are hurting us.”
On defense, the team features Jackson McNair, Cole McNair, Trent Stead and Hunter Addison.
“We have to really clamp down to keep the shots down,” John McNair said.
Luke Parise returns in goal. He appeared in 14 games a year ago.
“I've seen nothing but positive strides coming from him,” John McNair said. “He's battling all the way to the end. He faced 51 shots in our first game and let in eight goals. I can't say enough about a kid willing to do that. He knows a lot of shots are coming his way each game.”
The Lions finished 2-15-1 in PIHL Class A last year. They hope to improve on that record.
“No matter what, we'll never give up. They are giving every single thing for me and my assistant coaches,” John McNair said. “No matter the score, we'll take the puck to the other end and score as many as we can. We'll try to keep everyone healthy and protect Luke as best we can, too.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.