Recent challenges fortify Ford City hockey
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Though its win percentage ranks among the best in the PIHL Open Class, Ford City's hockey team regards its record as a sign of slight underachievement.
At the start of the season, the Sabers (6-1-1) viewed themselves as not only capable of a championship run, but potentially talented enough to go undefeated. Among Ford City's players and coaches, there's no less conviction about title chances as the PIHL's holiday break approaches. But the setbacks helped the Sabers realize how much room for improvement exists.
“We learned we've got to bring it every night,” coach Glen Kilgore said. “We've taken off a couple nights, a couple games, and it cost us both nights.”
Hopes of a perfect campaign ended when Indiana tied Ford City at 2, at the Belmont Complex in the Sabers' fourth game of the season.
The mood further soured 14 days later, when Ford City suffered a 5-3 loss at Hollidaysburg, which jumped out to a three-goal lead in the first period.
“It was a big shock for all of us,” defenseman John Phelps said of the two-game skid. “I think it was a good learning thing for us, because we know we can't come out and underestimate teams that we think we're going to smoke.”
Statistically, Ford City remains among the Open Class elite. The Sabers average 9.5 goals per game, second only to Greensburg Salem. They allow 2 goals per game (tied for third).
Jesse Valasek and Josh Oliver each sit in the top 20 in points per game with 4.1 and 2.7, respectively. And goalie Adam Cogley is third among full-time starters in goals-against average (1.9).
Two games stand between Ford City and the winter break. The Sabers will host Connellsville (0-7) Monday and meet Keystone Oaks (3-2) at the Penguins' Pond on the South Side on Dec. 20.
On-ice preparation in the days just prior to New Year's Eve will center on a Jan. 2 game at Indiana (8-1-1).
“We're not quite where we want to be, but we're getting there,” Kilgore said. “I think the next few games should get us close to where we want to be. … We'll try to get things rolling for that Jan. 2 game, which can't come fast enough for me.”
That readiness will include a refined understanding of the challenges presented by Open Class opponents.
“I think we do have an extra guard on (confidence) just because (the loss and tie) have happened,” Valasek said. “If they didn't happen, I don't think we would have one. I'm not saying it's a good or a bad thing that it actually happened, but it's going to help us out in the long run.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- 71-year-old among 2 charged in several Pittsburgh area burglaries
- BVA assistant enjoys ‘special’ part of game
- Rams cruise as soccer launches section play
- Bell Township museum delighted to receive WWI uniform of prominent native son
- Leader Times roundup: West Shamokin volleyball team wins 1st match in Class AA
- Playoff losses motivate West Mifflin boys soccer
- New Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Authority manager welcomes challenge
- New Kensington residents vent anger at council meeting
- Four issues that the Steelers need to take care of in September
- Remember the Lusitania!
- Principals question role of test scores in new evaluation process