Kittanning hockey comfortable with struggle — for now
By Bill West
Published: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 9:18 p.m.
Do not panic, Kittanning hockey coach Jamie King advised his team after another close preseason loss Monday night. This will pass.
As the start of the PIHL regular season approaches, the Wildcats are learning their weaknesses in competitive but ultimately meaningless exhibition games and tournaments. They took lumps last month in the Steve Bryan Memorial Belmont Cup, winning just one of four games. And they're poised to take a few more this week as they participate in the 20-team St. Margaret's Foundation Fall Faceoff at BladeRunners in Harmarville.
King and company aren't comfortable with losing. But they recognize how a few humbling setbacks will encourage Kittanning to work harder and improve in time for the Nov. 1 season opener.
“I think we'll have a good season,” senior forward Hunter Anthony said. “Guys just need to keep their heads up. There's no reason to get down this early.”
The Wildcats are accustomed to success. They made the PIHL Class A semifinals the last three seasons, and they lost just seven regular-season games combined during that span. Struggle is a relatively new concept.
“It's frustrating to not win,” senior forward and captain Eli Johns said. “But that'll come. … I expected it to happen. There are always ups and downs in a season.”
So far, Kittanning's lone win in five preseason games was a 4-2 victory over Freeport in the Belmont Cup. But the Wildcats excelled during stretches of their four losses. King praised their back-checking and puck possession in the corners of the offensive zone.
Two more preseason games await the Wildcats later this week: They'll play North Allegheny on Wednesday and Pine-Richland on Thursday.
The fact that Monday's opponent, Bethel Park, a 4-0 winner, as well as the two upcoming foes are considerably larger programs than Class A Kittanning is not lost on the Wildcats.
“It's fun to play against the upper teams,” senior goaltender Cameron Langham said. “It's good competition. And we're hanging with them. … We're not getting the wins, but we're building a lot. Our defense is better and we're getting quality shots.”
King identified turnovers as a major problem for the Wildcats in the Belmont Cup. He anticipates the preseason tournaments will afford his players time to develop chemistry enough to cut down considerably on giveaways.
The Wildcats, King said, will realize each other's preferences and playing speeds. They lean on too many underclassmen who are varsity newcomers — freshmen such as Jamie Contrael and Donovan Wichowski, as well as sophomores Nate Grafton and Jacob Snyder — to expect on-ice fluidity right now.
“This year's team has been fun to coach so far,” King said. “They're hungry to learn.
“We don't go anywhere to lose. … But on Nov. 1, we want to be ready to go.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur
- Physical Columbus team is a hit in playoff opener against Penguins
- At least three people dead in Armstrong County crash
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Veteran North Huntingdon police officer fired
- Play of the game: Sutter’s goal completes rally
- Pirates notebook: Walker’s razor a right-handed swing solution
- New Kensington-Arnold lays groundwork for consolidation
- State reaps $582M windfall on gas drilling in state forests
- Retired postal worker picks $1M winner