North Hills hockey making postseason push

Thursday, February 6, 2020 | 7:24 PM

For the better part of the last month, the North Hills hockey team has been in a hard-pressed situation as it strives to qualify for the PIHL Class A Penguins Cup playoffs.

The Indians have been tested in one of the most competitive divisions Class A has to offer.

The Indians have tallied three wins in their last four contests and in doing so, have improved their overall record to 10-6-0-0-1.

However, with all three of their Southwest Division rivals also sporting records over .500, coach Kevin Pawlos’ team must win all three of its final games and have some additional chips fall their way in divisional play to clinch a spot in the postseason.

“Coming out of the Christmas break, we dropped a couple of games in a row, and we really put our backs against the wall. The situation wasn’t great, but we knew what we needed to do. Our seniors have rallied the guys to play our best possible games, knowing that we don’t have any room for losses,” Pawlos said.

“And the guys have responded well. We’ve played our strongest games lately against our last few opponents. We’ve competed throughout this entire thing, and now we’re gearing up for this home stretch, knowing it’s going to be the biggest part of our season.”

If the Indians are able to continue their hot play and finish the season on a high note, it will be due in no small part to the play of Derek Pietrzyk. The sophomore center leads his team in goals with 18.

He also has stepped up when his team has needed him most, finding the back of the net eight times in the Indians’ last four games.

“Eighteen goals — that’s a number that really jumps out on paper. Derek is only a sophomore, but he’s really answered the bell for us, night in and night out,” Pawlos said.

“He scores goals against the toughest teams that we play against, too. It’s not just him playing against some of the teams that are below .500, he shows up against the top-level talent. He drives a lot of our offensive success and our plays just roll through him. He’s a strong north-and-south player, and we’re lucky to have him.”

North Hills has also seen strong offensive play from Owen Sroka (13 points), Roman Rennebeck (12 points) and Teddy Kiger (11 points), who has been a steadying presence on the ice, according to his coach.

The Indians will play their next game against Norwin on Monday at the RMU Island Sports Center before facing off against South Park at the Ice Castle Arena on Feb. 20.


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