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Serra hockey falls to Bishop McCort to continue slide

| Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, 11:24 p.m.

Jake Gunn stood shivering in a T-shirt in the aftermath of Serra Catholic's fourth consecutive loss Thursday night at Ice Garden Arena in Rostraver.

The senior defenseman, one of four Eagles hockey players chosen for the PIHL Class A All-Star Game on Feb. 9, wondered aloud why his team was in such a funk.

“We have guys with talent, and having some of those guys picked for that game gives you a little hope, at least, that we're being noticed,” Gunn said.

But the four planned PIHL All-Star classification games at RMU Island Sports Arena are weeks away, and there remains a regular-season schedule with which to contend. For Serra, though, time is running out to put together a successful run.

Serra's once-promising hockey season continued its nosedive with a 1-0 loss to lowly Bishop McCort in a PIHL Section 3-A game, one that saw the Eagles denied in their bid to tie the game in the closing seconds.

Sophomore Tom Werner's apparent goal with 12 seconds remaining was disallowed when the net became dislodged from its moorings just prior to the shot.

The game was called on curfew after Bishop McCort goaltender John Bradley remained on the ice for an extended period after the play with an unspecified injury.

“I felt we should have scored a goal there,” Gunn said. “But it is what it is.”

Serra (4-8-1), which had played just once since Dec. 19 — a 9-1 loss to Quaker Valley on Jan. 9 — is off until Thursday, when it faces Freeport at Belmont Complex in Kittanning.

Connor Bunn's goal at 14:41 of the first period was all the offense Johnstown-based Bishop McCort (2-11-0) needed and helped the Crimson Crushers avenge a season-opening 11-2 loss to Serra, which began the season 3-0-1.

“We're struggling this year, but we have only two seniors,” said Serra coach Dennis Tokarski, who in his first year was named an assistant for the Northeast Conference All-Stars.

Tokarski returned to the bench in late-December after undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disk just after the team's fast start.

“I haven't even started skating again,” he said. “It's getting better, but I've got to take it slow. I wasn't able to be at practice, and I feel like that was somewhat of a factor in our slide. It's a big deal when your coach can't be there, but my assistants hung in there.”

Joining Jake Gunn as Serra's all-stars for the Northeast Conference are forwards Roman Kraemer and Jon Henschel and goalie Ian Ritchie, who stopped 40 shots against Bishop McCort.

Defenseman William Purdue was chosen as an alternate.

Henschel did not play against Bishop McCort because of a prior commitment, Tokarski said.

“We've been missing key players off and on all season for different reasons,” he said, among them conflicts between PIHL and other amateur team schedules involving some players.

“If you noticed, I played everybody tonight. I'm at a point in the season where I need to play everybody.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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