Baldwin senior athletes pass winning torch to underclassmen
Head coach Joe Powell guided the Baldwin varsity hockey team to an 11-8-1 regular-season record, and a berth in the PIHL Open Class Chiefs Cup playoffs.
Powell couldn't have asked for a better group of seniors to help lead the Highlanders into PIHL prominence.
Senior leadership for this year's playoff squad was provided by defenseman Jacob Naylor, center Tim Cass, wingers Kaleb Reckley and Alan Yauch, and goaltender Ryan Beerman.
Naylor was elected team captain for 2012-13; Cass and Reckley served as alternate captains.
But it was their outstanding character, and “team-first” attitude displayed by all five athletes throughout the 2012-13 season that most impressed Baldwin's rookie head coach.
“They're all great kids, with great attitudes, and they're excellent team players,” Powell said. “As a first-year head coach, I couldn't ask for a better group of seniors.
“Most of these guys are three-year (varsity) lettermen. To think that the first year they played varsity hockey for Baldwin, the team went 1-19. Last year, they helped turn things around and were a big part in (Baldwin) going 16-4-1 and winning Section 4; and this year, again leading a young team back to the playoffs, and winning 11 games after losing the talent we did last year. These guys have a lot to be proud off. They helped turn things around and left Baldwin hockey heading in the right direction.”
Powell, a former Baldwin and California University of Pennsylvania hockey standout who was an assistant coach for the Highlanders in 2011-12, discussed some of the strengths of each senior player.
• Naylor — “Jake was our captain this year. He was a big part of the defensive corps. He also strived on the penalty kill.”
• Cass — “Tim was an assistant captain this year. He's excellent on the penalty kill, and a team player. He was willing to do what was needed for the team to win.”
• Reckley — “Kaleb also was an assistant captain. He's a versatile player. When we needed a forward to move back to defense, Kaleb was sometimes that guy.”
• Yauch — “Alan was our most improved player throughout the year. He's a team player, and he's excellent on the penalty kill.”
• Beerman — “Ryan was excellent in the net this year. He really stepped up and played solid behind a relatively young team.”
Naylor and Beerman were selected as PIHL all-stars in 2012-13. Cass, Reckley and Yauch played together on the same line for most of the season.
Reckley, Cass and Naylor ended up ranked among the team's leading scorers. Reckley finished with eight goals and 14 assists; Cass registered nine goals and eight assists; Naylor netted five goals and eight assists.
Beerman posted a 3.27 goals-against average with two shutouts during the regular season, to go along with a save percentage of .844.
“I've coached at Baldwin for two years now,” Powell said. “At the beginning of the year before our first game, I tell the team about a sign that hangs in the Montreal Canadians' locker room: ‘To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high.' I'll continue to say this for as long as I coach.
“Alan, Kaleb, Ryan, Jake and Tim passed the torch high.”
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.