High-scoring Norwin hockey focusing on team defense

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Sunday, December 15, 2019 | 11:52 AM


Norwin’s hockey team is confident it can put the puck in the net.

After all, the Knights offense ranked second in PIHL Class A with 60 goals through nine games.

Norwin’s 29 goals against put it in the middle of the pack, but the team wants improvement.

“We have the offense down, but we want to focus on team defense,” captain Jake Dally said. “We’ve been doing OK, but, looking at the opponents to come, we want to keep doing better to solidify our spot at the top of the league.”

The Knights (8-1) are pleased with the play of regular defensemen Jacob Meyer, Devin Barrett, Nate Feczko, Nate Good and Ashton Yemc and goaltenders Sam Coll and Eric Miscampbell, who have shared duties.

“Our goaltenders have been working really hard as well as our defensemen,” coach Adam Tokarski said. “They’re doing a good job keeping guys to the outside.”

The forwards coming back to help has been a point of emphasis.

“It’s the role of the seniors to show the underclassmen how to do that and play as part of the team,” Dally said. “It’s getting better as the season progresses and the chemistry improves.”

Improving defensive responsibility is one of the keys to the strong start.

“A lot of players underestimate backchecking, but it’s one the more important parts of the game,” Tokarski said. “When the younger players see one of the older guys do it, it’ll make them get back and get that puck, too.”

The team’s top line of Mason Pivarnik, Logan Connelly and Dally sets the tone with its two-way game. The line produced 83 points through the first nine games.

“They are working really well together,” Tokarski said. “They just have a knack for scoring.”

Dally (10 goals, 18 assists) and Pivarnik (12, 16) were tied at 28 points, and Connelly (13, 14) was right behind with 27.

“I attribute a lot of my success to the wingers I have. It’s just a solid line. We’ve continued to develop chemistry from last year throughout this year,” Dally said. “It’s a ton of fun to see us have success but also to see the other lines contribute and be successful as well.”

The Knights hardly are a one-line team. Ten others have scored at least one goal, and all of its regular forwards have at least a point.

“It’s nice to get some depth scoring every once in a while,” Dally said.

The other lines have shifted throughout the season, too.

“They understand it’s a long season,” Tokarski said. “Every practice, they are trying to work on chemistry with other guys to be able to work with anyone on the ice because we know injuries are inevitable, and we’ll need different people to step up at different times.”

Norwin hopes to keep racking up points after the holiday break.

“The end goal is the Penguins Cup,” Dally said. “But we want to take one game at a time since each team offers unique challenges to overcome.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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