Fox Chapel hockey leaving last season’s struggles in the dust

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Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM


It didn’t take long for the resurgent Fox Chapel hockey team to exceed its wins total from last season.

The Foxes went to 5-0 on Oct. 25 with a 5-3 victory over Hampton in a Class A Northeast Division game at Valencia’s Frozen Pond Arena.

In last year’s covid-delayed season, Fox Chapel went 4-12.

“The difference from last season basically comes down to these boys come ready to play every day,” Fox Chapel coach Cam Raidna said.

“The difference is in the locker room, we haven’t changed anything. The real difference is they’re giving everything they have to us: their hearts, their determination. They come to practice ready to go. They’re just a big family in there.”

The leading scorer after five games was junior Mason Heininger with 15 points.

“It’s just exciting,” Heininger said. “It’s a great group of guys and a great coaching staff. We’re ready to work.”

Part of Fox Chapel’s success has come due to quick starts.

The Foxes scored 13 of their division-high 33 goals in the first period. Against the Talbots, Alex Macek and William McNamara scored to give Fox Chapel a 2-0 lead after one period.

But the Foxes had to work to keep their unbeaten streak intact.

Logan Scanlon scored two goals and a possible third hit off the left post to keep Hampton in the game.

Late in the contest, the Talbots were on a power play and had pulled goaltender Brendon Frankel giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.

A goal there brought the Talbots to within 4-3 before an empty netter by Heininger with four seconds left decided the issue in what seemed to be an interminable final 51 seconds from the Fox Chapel viewpoint.

“I really thought is missed it, but it turned in at the end and I got a lucky bounce,” Heininger said.

“Those last 51 seconds were longer than we would have liked,” Raidna said with a laugh. “But at the end of the day, we had our guys out there that we knew would shut them down, and we’ve known we’re training for these types of games in the last moment. We need to shut it down and come out with a win no matter how pretty or ugly it gets.”

Forward Danny Downey also got off to a solid start with 14 points and goaltender Nash Wedner had a goals-against average of 1.60 and a .937 save percentage.

But Fox Chapel’s defense has also been up to the task. At one stretch in the Hampton game, the Foxes went nearly 13 minutes without giving up a shot.

Said Raidna: ‘That’s something we’re emphasizing this year: cutting down the shots in our end and keeping them to the outside. Last year, our biggest problem was getting the puck out of our own zone.”

After two weeks off, Fox Chapel resumes play on Nov. 11 against Kiski Area in a 7:50 p.m. home contest against Kiski Area at Harmar’s Alpha Ice Center.

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