Combination of experienced leaders, young roster works for Fox Chapel hockey

Saturday, November 14, 2020 | 11:01 AM

The Fox Chapel hockey team may have lost five solid seniors, but with a young team that plays together, third-year coach Cam Raidna is confident in what his team can do.

“We feel pretty good about our team this year, and we felt good about it going into the season and even before covid,” Raidna said.

The Foxes started off their season with a 6-4 loss to North Catholic, but with just four seniors on the squad, their season may be filled with ebbs and flows as they get their skates underneath them. But this young team does not lack experience.

“This year is the first year where we have a full roster of 17 to 18 players, so the returning players from last year got a lot of experience and were put in situations on power plays or penalty kills where they gained experience at a young age,” Raidna said. “It will really help out this season, and they can help teach the freshmen that did come in this year as well, and it’s really showing.”

Three of the five seniors that the Foxes lost to graduation were among the top four point earners on the team, including leading scorer Colby Zmenkowski, who tallied 17 goals and 14 assists. But the Foxes will not be focusing on having just one player taking over games this season.

With a deep team and a full roster, Raidna said that one of the team’s top strengths is its ability to move up and down the ice as a unit.

“It’s not so much that we have superstars as much as it is that we play as a unit of five up and down the ice,” Raidna said. “We do have our skill guys, and we do have our guys that can take over games, but our biggest strength is that we do play as a team and a group of five.”

Playing as a team starts with Fox Chapel’s leadership group of senior Andrew Rich and his linemates, sophomores Danny Downey and Mason Heininger, along with another alternate captain, Will McNamara.

“I could go through a whole list of guys, but those four really play hard, play well and help drive their teammates and lead their teammates,” Raidna said.

Rich was one of the top scorers last season with 10 goals and 10 assists, and Downey topped out at six goals and 11 assists as a freshman last year. Heininger and McNamara combined for eight goals and six assists.

While the Foxes will be young in general, they will also be young between the pipes as freshman Joe Rattner takes over. In Fox Chapel’s opener against North Catholic, Rattner stopped 46-of-52 shots, and although it came in a loss, the young goaltender has made an impression on his coach.

“He has exceeded any expectations we had set,” Raidna said. “For a freshman to come in and keep us in the game against a very good North Catholic team, I could not be happier with how he’s been playing and the way the team has rallied around him. It’s good to have a goaltender you can trust, especially an underclassman.”

Raidna believes with their solid group of leaders and their young but experienced roster, the Foxes could make some noise this season.

“We have a little bit of a younger group, but we have great leadership and our three captains are great leaders in the locker room and on the ice,” he said. “We have a deep team where all three lines can play and all defensemen can play.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .


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