Freshman goalie playing key role for Shaler hockey team

Sunday, January 17, 2021 | 9:01 AM

Shane Ciganik never planned on seeing so much time on the varsity team.

The Shaler freshman netminder expected to ease into the high school level. But Ciganik has seen more than his share of minutes for the school’s hockey team.

He’s appeared in eight games and was named the starting goalie moving forward following Shaler’s game Baldwin on Jan. 14.

“At the beginning of the season, I was nervous because it’s my freshman year,” Ciganik said. “My teammates were so welcoming. We have been having more practices, and I’ve gotten more comfortable around my teammates.”

Ciganik, who is 1-2 with a .766 save percentage, started playing hockey four years ago. He was drawn to net by the look of the position.

“One thing I always liked was the equipment,” Ciganik said. “I love watching goalies play on TV, and I thought it would be a fun challenge.”

Developing a strong presence in net will be important for Shaler (2-5-1) if the Titans want to challenge for the PIHL AAA Northeast Division crown.

During a 5-1 loss to Montour Jan. 12 at the Alpha Ice Complex, Shaler outshot the Spartans, 37-21.

Shaler has been playing a smothering, defensive style first-year coach Cory Sakolsky encouraged. Most games, Shaler has outshot its opponents.

“The score tells a lot different story than what we’re seeing and dealing with,” Sakolsky said. “We gave up 21 shots (total). After the first period, the shots were 15-5 and we were down 2-0. As a structured game, we played well. We need to do a better job putting rebounds on net. We also need timely saves, and we’re missing that a little bit.”

Making those saves is something Ciganik and fellow goaltender Ryan Bragg have been working on all season. While Ciganik is now the starter, Bragg will also see time down the stretch.

Ciganik tries to keep an even mindset if things don’t go how he wants them to.

“After a bad game, I try to mentally prepare myself,” Ciganik said. “I have a next-shot, next-game mentality.”

Shaler hopes to have everyone back who was out due to covid protocols soon. The team was missing three forwards and a defenseman.

Shaler was also playing a defender at forward who had never played the position before.

Sakolsky believes Shaler will have the support system in place to help the goalies be successful.

“We pride ourselves on how good our defensive coverage is,” Sakolsky said. “We’re a smothering team. If you look back at our shots, we allow 20 or less per game. The only team that shot well over that was Hempfield. If they got over 20, they didn’t get far over 20.”


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