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Sewickley Academy hockey program back in action after 1-year hiatus

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

As a member of an independent league, the Sewickley Academy hockey team's season got off to a later start than teams in the PIHL.

That's still earlier than last season.

After not fielding a team at all in 2011-12, the Panthers began their season with a game Wednesday night against Western Reserve Academy at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center. The game ended past the deadline for this week's edition.

“All the kids on the team this year — I just felt bad for them (last season),” coach Ryan Patrick said. “Knowing the high school experience and playing for your high school — they were getting their hockey fill with their amateur teams, but there's nothing like playing for your school and for your town. I just think that the kids are excited to be back wearing a Sewickley uniform.”

Now a member of the Independent School Hockey League, Sewickley will play games against the likes of Western Reserve, Linsley School, Kiski School and Shady Side Academy.

Patrick thinks the league is a good spot for the team.

“It's all similar type schools that follow the guidelines of fall sports, winter sports, spring sports,” he said. “They have all been in the same boat as us — they've had their players playing soccer, playing football. It's a perfect fit for us (and) for schools like us.”

The Sewickley Academy team got off to a slow start in practice because four of the players were members of the state runner-up boys soccer team.

Patrick will count on three of those soccer players to provide leadership for this year's team. Junior Connor Zierden is a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite hockey team, senior goalie Hayden Moyer was the keeper for the boys soccer team this season and junior Erik Dietrich will be expected to pull the team together.

“(Zierden plays for) arguably the best team in Pittsburgh, so that's a bonus to have him,” Patrick said. “We know (Moyer) is in practice of things flying at him, so he's definitely ready for the season. From what I've seen so far from him, he's been great.”

Patrick said he liked the overall size and speed of this season's team, and he looked forward to getting the season started.

“Really, I'm going to be watching a lot to see how these guys perform because we've had limited practice time,” he said. “It'll be a learning experience as well to see who does what well.

“I think we can do well in this new league.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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