Pine-Richland Rams looking strong as season gets underway
Pine-Richland hockey coach Mike Bagnato lost three talented seniors to graduation, but the loss will force more players to step up and produce, something Bagnato said could actually help balance the team this season.
The Rams dropped the season opener, 2-1, to Bishop Canevin, and although he is not happy with a loss, Bagnato said he is not upset with how his team played.
“Both teams played well and had chances,” Bagnato said. “They just scored last.”
Bagnato was able to rotate his lines often and use everyone on the bench.
“Our strength is in our forwards more than anything else, and it will be hard to keep everyone happy at times,” he said. “We have a lot of good players with three years experience.”
Things will get started in the net with Brendan Bagnato, who has played well in the preseason according to his coach and is a returning starter and three-year varsity player.
Forwards Dillon Kessy, Will Bergman and Tyler Makita are a group who play well at both ends of the ice. Zach Richey, who Bagnato said the team would rely on for leadership, will join them.
Rounding out the seniors will be Drew Berkhoudt, a critical role player, and the quick and improved Mike Oaks on defense.
Junior Ryan Cole is a forward who will be teamed with Richey and Kessy, and Bagnato hopes he helps that line produce goals in bunches. Kyle Cunningham and Nick Jenkins will be staples on defense along with Tyler Ziggler, a player Bagnato expects some big things from this season.
The remaining four juniors will help on offense mostly, as Andrew Vizlosky, Andres Binotto, Nick Carnovale and Ethan Pitts are a balanced and hard-working group who fit Bagnato's style well.
A couple of sophomores — forward Mike Carrozzi and goalie Isaac Stephen — have shown a lot of potential, according to Bagnato.
“Stephen is our goalie of the future, and Mike has a lot of potential as a forward,” Bagnato said.
The core of Kessy, Richey Cole, Cunningham, Jenkins and Bagnato will be the catalyst for this team, and the success of the season largely will rest on their shoulders and how the rest of the players gel with them.
Bagnato wants to get into the win column as soon as possible due to the fact that his team has dug itself a hole early the past couple of seasons before finishing strong.
He believes that if the Rams can get ahead, there is no telling where they can end up.