Kiski Area hockey team proving itself in early part of season

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | 10:49 AM


The Kiski Area hockey team lost several key players, including Michael Rayburg and Jonathan Ayres, from a team that made back-to-back PIHL Class A semifinals appearances.

If they needed any evidence that they can still play with the top teams in the league, last Thursday’s game against Fox Chapel was a good example.

The Cavaliers pushed the undefeated Foxes into overtime before eventually falling 3-2. They outshot Fox Chapel, 32-21, including a 13-6 margin in a third period in which they dominated zone time.

Even though they didn’t get the full two points, the result was an indication the team is improving. Through six games, the Cavaliers are 3-2-1.

“We have had a few tough losses, but we’ve been playing well,” coach Mark Hastings said. “Our first loss was to Norwin. We learned and grew from there. They’re playing a lot better as a team than they were earlier in the year.”

Kiski has wins over Beaver, Greensburg Salem and Hampton. They lost to Norwin and Westmont Hilltop before Thursday’s game with Fox Chapel.

Fox Chapel jumped to a 2-0 lead Thursday, but Ethan George scored on the power play with 0.3 seconds on the clock to give Kiski a boost going into the locker room.

They came out in the third and pushed for the tying goal for the majority of the period, and Nick Miles finally cashed in with less than two minutes remaining.

Liam Wiseman scored in overtime for Fox Chapel, which improved to 7-0 on the season.

“They’re undefeated for a reason,” Kiski Area captain Aiden Sites said of Fox Chapel. “They’ve got some good players and a really good goalie. We kept it close with them and took it to overtime. We never gave up the entire game, which is good. I’m glad to see that from the team.”

Kyle Guido leads the team in points with 11 and has five goals. George has six goals, and Matt Drahos has scored five times. Drahos had a hat trick in the Greensburg Salem win.

Kiski goalie Evin Brice made some big saves against Fox Chapel to keep it a one-goal game.

The Cavaliers have some underclassmen who are playing varsity for the first time. Sites and some of the other older players have helped them get acclimated.

“I feel like I have to teach them in a way and give them a head start on what they are going to see later down the road,” Sites said. “I want to make it fun for them, but at the same time keep it competitive. I want them to keep their heads up when they make a mistake. It’s not about every moment in the game. It’s about making sure you’re giving effort.”

If they continue the trend they are on now, Kiski will be in the mix to qualify for the postseason again. They are currently behind Westmont Hilltop and Norwin in the Southeast Division standings. There’s a long way to go, however, and Sites is looking forward to continuing to build with the current group.

“We’ve improved on moving the puck and playing as a team in general,” Sites said. “Going into the season, no one really knew how we were going to play together. We’ve learned a lot about each other and their style of play, and we’ve kept improving on that. We still have a lot of potential.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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