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Plum coach continues stress hockey basics

| Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

First-year Plum hockey coach Dave Stonebraker has a simple approach for limiting scoring chances: If they don't have the puck, they can't score.

"The team (with) the biscuit on their stick isn't going to be giving up many goals," he said.

Stonebraker was hired in July to replace longtime coach Stu Rulnik, who resigned at the end of last season after 10 years. Rulnik now coaches Pitt in the club-level American Collegiate Hockey Association.

Stonebraker also coaches the Allegheny Badgers Midget U-16 AA amateur team. Before taking over as coach at Plum, he spent time working in a developmental capacity several years ago. His son David, a freshman, splits time on the varsity and junior-varsity squads.

Stonebraker has emphasized puck possession, speed in transition and responsible defensive play. So far, he likes how his team has responded.

"I think their biggest strength is that they're willing and wanting to learn, play and compete," he said. "That speaks volumes from the standpoint of the team being coachable."

Once a successful program, the Mustangs managed to produce just one winning campaign in the past six seasons and struggled to keep up in Class AAA. In the offseason, they moved to Class AA in hopes of finding a level playing field.

"I was endorsing either position, whether the board decided to stay at AAA or move to AA," Stonebraker said. "I think they made the right choice. There needs to be excitement and a rejuvenation of the program within the district. It's hard to do that when you're playing at the wrong level."

Plum's move has been successful. The Mustangs are 5-2 and have two of the classification's top offensive players, Andrew Walters and Jordan Gable.

From 'O' to 'D'

Freeport's hot start was typified by offensive outbursts against some less-than-formidable competition.

As the season has gone on, Freeport's focus has moved from the offensive to the defensive zone. And no one has stood out more than goaltender Cody Lee.

In Freeport's past two games, Lee has been stellar. He made 18 saves on 20 shots in a 3-2 win over South Park on Dec. 8 and followed that with a 22-save performance against second-place Westmont Hilltop in a 1-1 tie Thursday.

Lee boasted a save percentage of .930 in those two games. On the season, he is 4-1-2 with a goals-against average of 1.66, save percentage of .903 and a shutout. He has the second-best goals-against average and save percentage of any Class A goalie who has faced more than 100 shots.

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