Falcons bringing small roster into new season
Connellsville's hockey team finds itself in the difficult position of trying to compete in the PIHL's Open Division with extremely limited resources.
With the season set to start Monday, the Falcons feature a roster that is in a state of flux, but one that late last week was comprised of just 11 players. The Falcons also lost last year's leading scorer, Jonathan Herchko, to graduation. It won't make things easy for new co-coaches Ryan Work and Josh Snyder, who are taking over for Mario Crocetti.
Despite the sparse roster, the coaches have been pleased with the progress the group has made in the time leading up to the start of the season.
“I think that we were a little rusty at the start of practices,” Snyder said. “But we've come a long way. We've got four brand-new guys who are coming along and the veteran players are stepping up.”
Connellsville likely will rely heavily on veteran senior goaltender Tom Clark. Clark was a starter last season.
“I think he is a real solid goalie,” Snyder said. “I'm very impressed with what he is showing us so far. He can lead the defense when he is on the ice.”
Junior Zach Miller and sophomore Owen Hardy are returning defensemen that will be chewing up minutes on the blue line in front of Clark. They'll be supported by senior Dylan Wallace and freshman Devin Adenhart.
“They're all looking good,” Snyder said. “I'm real happy with all those guys.”
Senior Cody Grimm has played defense in the past, but will be centering one of two forward lines. Junior Cole Chorba will also center a line. Senior Jacoby Miller, juniors Gage Gainey and Alex Reagan and freshman Blake Breakiron likely will be the wingers on the lines.
“Gage is a first-year player, but he is a real strong skater,” Snyder said. “Blake is helping us out, and we're excited to see how Cole develops.”
With such a limited roster, it may be unrealistic for the Falcons to compete for a championship or even a playoff spot. But that doesn't mean Connellsville lacks expectations for the season.
“This year, a good season for us would be to do better than we did last year,” Snyder said regarding the team's 1-19 performance in 2012-13. “We're looking to build. We have a good group of kids. We want to institute our program and see what happens.”
According to Clark, roster depth is a concern, but he's comfortable with the players that make up this year's team.
“Right now, we don't have the biggest roster, but we have kids that want to play,” Clark said. “The biggest thing we have to do is come together and play as a team.”
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.