Sewickley Academy hockey ready to get started under new coach
After coming back from a one-year hiatus with a first-year head coach, the Sewickley Academy hockey team is experiencing another shake up.
The Panthers will be under the direction of new coach Tyler Henk, a former player at Wheeling Jesuit. He is no stranger from the rinks of Western Pennsylvania as he played high school hockey at Bethel Park.
“I saw a team that has had success,” Henk said. “It is a program with good kids and good freshmen on the way up. I thought I could help the players build character.”
Henk replaces Ryan Patrick, who was the Panthers coach for one season. He resigned from the role to become the hockey director of Penn State's Pegula Ice Arena. Patrick led Sewickley Academy into its debut in the Independent School Hockey League, where the team finished 5-5 last year.
The ISHL is also home to programs such as Linsley School, Kiski School, Shady Side Academy and Western Reserve.
Henk will be assisted by Louis Pessolano, who has been an assistant coach with Sewickley Academy for eight seasons. Having a coach that knows the players will help the transition into Henk's tenure, he said.
“He will know what to do with the players position-wise,” Henk said. “He will be able to give me input on how they fit into the system. It will be a benefit to have him.”
Henk said he has some interaction with the team so far and will begin holding practices early in November.
“I want to get together after all the fall sports are wrapped up,” Henk said. “I want to get the team into practice and teach them what I can and get into game situations. We are going to work on all aspects of the game.”
Senior forward Erik Dietrich and senior defender Connor Zierden are expected to return.
While having some experience back could lead to more success on the ice, Henk wants to see the players grow to enjoy the game as much as he did in high school.
“My goal is for the players to learn and love the game,” Henk said. “I want them to play the game the best they can. I want them to be able to look back at high school and realize how much fun they had playing hockey.”
The Panthers get their season under way Nov. 22 at the Shady Side Academy Tournament.