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Sewickley hockey team falls in independent league semifinals

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 4:54 p.m.

The Sewickley Academy ice hockey team wrapped up play in the inaugural season of its Independent School Hockey League schedule at the postseason tournament held at Shady Side Academy over the weekend.

The Panthers entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed but dropped their semifinal game to the Kiski School, 5-1, before falling to Shady Side Academy, 8-6, in the consolation game to finish 5-6 overall this season.

Despite the losses, the Panthers took plenty of positives away from this season, after the program was on hiatus last season.

“It was good to see these kids care,” first-year head coach Ryan Patrick said. “They really want to play for each other and for their school.”

In the tournament semifinals, the Panthers found themselves down 3-0 early in the second period, a deficit that proved too big to overcome for Sewickley, a team that only dresses 11 players.

After dropping the first contest this season against Kiski, 7-4, the Panthers rebounded with a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 30 before ultimately dropping the rubber match in the postseason.

“They have a good team,” Patrick said. “We had seen them twice this year and beat them once and lost once. We weren't there in the first (period) and the first half of the second and then we finally showed up for the second half of the game. It's just not enough, you have to have the whole game.”

“I think they were just aggressive after their loss in the last game we played them so they came out strong against us,” junior defenseman Connor Zierden said.

Sewickley appeared to gain some momentum before the close of the second frame as Patrick Bowles scored with just seven seconds left to cut Kiski's lead to 4-1, but the Panthers could not carry that energy over into the third period.

“I thought things were going to turn around for us there when we started playing hard, but it just didn't seem to carry over,” Patrick said.

The Panthers have one exhibition game remaining against Fox Chapel before officially concluding the season.

Next season Sewickley will lose senior goalie and team captain Hayden Moyer, who stopped 22 shots in the loss to Kiski, but return a strong core of players and will get some added depth from incoming freshmen as well.

“We lose our goaltender, which is a big part of the team,” Patrick said. “He played really well for us. The junior class is real strong so we'll lean on them to carry us next year, and I think we have four or five freshmen coming in so we'll at least have a few more numbers next year.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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