Kiski Area goalie Petika giving Cavaliers confidence

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019 | 8:14 PM


Throughout this hockey season, a solid defensive effort has led Kiski Area.

The Cavaliers have one of the lowest goals-against in the PIHL Class A division. In seven games, they have allowed only 14 goals, and senior goalie Eric Petika has three shutouts.

While the defense has been great as a whole, Petika has been one of the best goaltenders in Class A. He has faced 176 shots and made 162 saves, for a 2.00 goals-against average.

“This season has been pretty good so far,” Petika said. “We’ve been really coming together as a team, and it’s been going a lot better than last year.”

After a 3-1 loss to North Catholic on Tuesday, the Cavaliers are 4-3 but have played competitively in each game. Their two other losses came against Bishop McCort, 5-4, in their season opener and to Norwin, 4-3, on Nov. 5.

Before their second loss of the season, the Cavaliers went on a three-game winning streak that included two shutouts and a 3-2 shootout win against Indiana. During that OT win, Petika had one of his best games.

In 51 minutes, he faced 59 shots and made 57 saves for a .966 save percentage. Kiski Area coach Mark Hastings said that game was a perfect example of what Petika has been doing this season.

“I mean, if you look at that game, they outshot us 59-15, and we actually came out on top with a win in a shootout,” Hastings said. “That just tells you what the goalie did for us. Making that many saves and us coming out with the win, that says it all right there.”

Petika has been playing ice hockey for seven years, dek hockey for 12 and always has found himself in goal. Heading into this season, Petika was hoping his team was going to have a big year, so he put the work in during the offseason to get ready.

“I worked out to stay in shape, and that’s helped” Petika said. “I was just getting my movement down and stuff like that.”

So far, it has paid off. In three games this season he has faced 30 or more shots and faced 23 on Tuesday as all three of North Catholic’s goals came in the final period.

As the season has gone on, the Cavaliers defenders have started to gain more confidence, and Hastings believes that’s in part because of Petika.

“All the kids on the defensive side are confident with him back there,” Hastings said. “They know they don’t have to worry too much because it’s a lot easier. It makes it a lot nicer because they can just concentrate on playing.”

With a lot of time left in the season, the Cavaliers have an opportunity to continue to come together and grow as a team.

They will take the ice against Westmont Hilltop at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 1st Summit Arena.

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

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