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Sewickley Academy hockey victorious in return from hiatus

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Erik Dietrich passes the puck during a game against Western Reserve Academy at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Willie Paul, at center, a freshman, is congratulated by teammates on his first period goal against Western Reserve Academy during a game at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Bobby Hapanowicz, a junior, skates with the puck during a game against Western Reserve Academy at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Patrick Bowles, a sophomore, tires to force the puck in the net during a game against Western Reserve Academy at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Bobby Hapanowicz, a junior, and a Western Reserve Academy player fight for a loose puck during a game at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Bobby Hapanowicz (left) and Nik Goebel try to corral a loose puck during a game against Western Reserve Academy at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Sam Duerr, a junior, skates with the puck during a game against Western Reserve Academy at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Alex Pfeifer, a junior, looks for an open teammate during a game against Western Reserve Academy at the RMU Island Sports Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald

With just 12 players on the roster to begin with, the Sewickley Academy hockey team doesn't have much depth.

That depth was compromised even further when three players sat out the team's opener last week with injuries, but it ended up not hurting in the end.

Competing with just nine healthy players, the Panthers opened their season with an 11-4 victory over Western Reserve Academy Dec. 5 at Robert Morris' Island Sports Center.

“It was a good game,” coach Ryan Patrick said. “The team played well — we were a little short-handed because we had some injuries, but all the guys came together and played well.”

A balanced attack led Sewickley Academy to its first win since Feb. 14, 2011 — the team sat out last season.

Patrick said several players scored multiple goals in the game, and the defense also put up a good performance in the victory.

What impressed Patrick the most, however, was the team's effort with three players sidelined.

“The guys put in a full effort,” he said. “They didn't take any shifts off, and they were after it every shift. It was good to see.”

While Patrick found himself pleased overall with the victory, he added there were things the team could improve on as it moves forward this season — namely its play on the penalty kill.

The team hadn't focused on penalty killing much in practice before the game against Western Reserve, Patrick said, but that will change after giving up some chances while shorthanded last week.

“I just noticed guys not being in the correct spots on the ice,” he said. “That's something we'll work on.”

While the Panthers are competing mostly in the Independent School Hockey League this season, they took a step outside the league Tuesday with a game against West Allegheny Tuesday at Airport Ice Arena in Moon. The game ended past the deadline for this week's edition.

West Allegheny, which competes in Class AA of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League, won the Penguins Cup championship in 2011-12 but was 1-4-1 heading into Tuesday's contest.

Patrick said he expected a good test from the Indians.

“They have graduated some players (from last season),” Patrick said. “I know the coach, so I thought it would be a good matchup for us. I think the kids are excited to play a team close by.”

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

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