Captain checks all the boxes for Pine-Richland hockey team

Sunday, March 13, 2022 | 12:01 PM

Tales of hockey players and their superstitions have been told since skates first hit ice, but Pine-Richland captain Alex Erlain wants nothing to do with them.

“I hate superstitions,” he said. “It’s my goal not to have any. I don’t want anything to get in my head.”

He wouldn’t even take credit for the song the team plays after every victory.

“That’s the entire team’s choice,” Erlain said as Shakria’s “Hips Don’t Lie” blared through the walls of the Pine-Richland dressing room. “That’s not me. It’s a good win song though.”

Erlain may buck the trend when it comes to having superstitions, but he checks all the boxes of being a captain.

When his team was grinding through its PIHL Class 3A first-round playoff game March 7 against Central Catholic, he drew a penalty in the final minute of regulation and scored the game winner on the power play in overtime to push the Rams to a 2-1 win.

Erlain scored both goals for the second-seeded Rams, who advanced to play No. 3 Peters Township in the semifinals March 14 at RMU Island Sports Center.

Like a good captain, Erlain shied away from taking credit for the game winner.

“We all knew it was a do-or-die situation there,” Erlain said. “We persevered as a team together. It wasn’t one player. It was the whole team. We all did it.”

Erlain has 14 goals this season, which ties him with Carson Kalpakis for the team lead. He has 17 assists and a team-best 31 points.

Pine-Richland coach Jordan Yoklic said that Erlain has all the qualities of a captain. That includes leading by example and speaking up when needed.

“When the team is not as sharp on the mental side of things, he’ll stick it into gear and get everyone’s attention,” Yoklic said. “His work ethic on the ice speaks for itself. His motor is always going 110 percent, whether it’s on or off the ice. He’s got a bright future.”

The future for Erlain is playing junior hockey. He is committed to play for Team Maryland in the EHL next year. Team Maryland is an affiliate of the Maryland Black Bears of the NAHL. Erlain is hopeful to impress enough to get a call up to the Black Bears.

Right now, though, he is focused on trying to help Pine-Richland make a trip to the PIHL finals. The Rams won the Penguins Cup and state championship in 2019, made the semifinals in 2020 before the season was canceled due to the pandemic and were semifinalists in 2020.

“We got a glimpse of what a playoff game is (against Central Catholic),” Erlain said. “It doesn’t matter who we play next because we have to play our game, play hard and make it difficult for the other team to play against us.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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