Keystone Oaks hockey prepares for rebuilding year
The Keystone Oaks hockey team won't shy away from admitting this season will be a rebuilding year.
The Golden Eagles lost four players to graduation — Ryan Rosato, Ryan Ribeau, Cody Dulski and John Conley — and another who decided to focus on his travel team.
Those five players combined for 169 points last season. Keystone Oaks finished with a team total of 273 points.
“We need to be realistic,” Keystone Oaks John McCarthy said. “We lost seven guys from last year's squad, five of which were our top scorers. We are in rebuilding mode. We will only lose one senior from this season's team. We won't be judging this season on wins and losses but on how we improve.”
Despite a big turnover, the Golden Eagles return several strong players. Defense will be the team's strong suit as juniors Devin Rosato and Jack Malka return after combining for 22 points last season. The return of junior goalie Jonathan Mead — who finished with 345 saves last season — should help, too.
“Last year was a great experience for him,” McCarthy said. “We had so much leadership and guys scoring goals, he could make mistakes and we would be OK. He had a whole year to get his feet wet.”
Finding players to score will be the biggest challenge. Matt Bretensky finished with 21 goals last season and is the Golden Eagles' top returning scorer
Stephen Plank, Noah Held and Eugene Barilla are expected to contribute offensively this season.
“If we can just keep getting better as a team this season, that would be great,” Bretensky said. “We just need to go step by step.”
The PIHL's Open Class has increased in depth and difficulty thanks to realignment. Several teams have dropped from higher classifications — including Hempfield from AAA, Gateway from AA and Greensburg Central Catholic from A.
Even with the new faces and going through a rebuilding process, McCarthy said the Golden Eagles' top goal is a return to the postseason.
“If we keep a good attitude and play together, I think we can be decent,” Rosato said. “We know we only have one senior, so we are all just trying to get better.”