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Drop to Open Class gives GCC hockey chance to improve

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By Alex Oltmanns
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Last season was not a friendly one for the Greensburg Central Catholic ice hockey team, as the Centurions went winless at 0-22 in their PIHL Class A schedule.

But the Centurions have put the previous campaign behind them, added three players from Geibel Catholic and moved down one classification to the PIHL's Open Division.

They've essentially put last year in the rear view and are optimistic about the 2013-14 season.

“Everybody's definitely put that (last season) behind them,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Tony Marietta said. “We've had such a good outlook going into this season, and we've been improving every practice.

“I think things are looking a little bit better for us this season than last season. Open Division should give us a little more leeway with some schools that are in the same situation as us.”

The Centurions return their top three scorers from last season, including senior forwards Nick Benjamin and Zach Banko, two players who will be relied on to lead both on and off the ice.

“They are both definitely leaders on the team,” Marietta said. “They both have the most experience in ice hockey, they're both seniors, very level-headed kids with great work ethics as well.”

They will be joined on offense by Tony Pacelli and Geibel's Chris Martin. Under Open Division rules, schools are permitted to conjoin in a co-op, leading to the Centurions and Gators teaming up this season.

Defensively, Greensburg Central Catholic will feature Nick Frank along with another Geibel player in Neil Solan.

Despite going winless in the Greensburg Central Catholic Preseason Tournament against some teams in higher classifications and dropping the regular season opener to Carrick, it was the play of another Geibel addition that had Marietta encouraged.

Goaltender Patrick Teich, who despite being in just his first year as an ice hockey player has looked strong through the preseason, turned away 20 shots against Carrick.

“For not having played ice hockey, he's done a tremendous job so far through the preseason,” Marietta said. “We played a couple tough teams in the preseason tournament and he's faced quite a few shots on some really skilled players, and I was very impressed with his performance throughout the preseason.”

While the Centurions are hoping for steady improvement this season, they have set a modest initial goal to work toward.

“Our first goal is to get that first win under our belt,” Marietta said. “It's been quite a while since we won a game.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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