North Hills hockey works to redefine itself under 1st-year coach

Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 11:27 PM

The North Hills hockey team had a season to forget last year, going 2-17 in PIHL Class AA and finishing last in the division.

So that’s exactly what the Indians (1-1) are going to do: forget about it. The team will have plenty to keep it busy: The 2018-19 season begins with a new coach and a clean slate as it moves down to Class A.

After first-year coach Kevin Pawlos’ first two games, the returns were promising, including a 4-1 victory over Freeport. From Pawlos’s perspective, it’s an important first step in the right direction after a challenging campaign last season.

“That’s what we’re trying to instill in them. You have to put your best foot forward every game,” Pawlos said.

“Every game is a new game, just like every season is a new season. We’re resetting. Last year was last year, and this is a different group of guys. We have high expectations — to make the playoffs and to contend for a Penguins Cup — and we fully believe we can achieve them.”

North Hills’ plans to achieving its goals starts with its ability to prevent opponents from scoring. That’s one reason three of the Indians’ more experienced and talented players, Liam O’Neill, Alex Kraus and Austin Isaly, are lining up as defensemen.

“I think our goaltending and our defense are going to be pretty solid strengths for us. We have two capable goalies with Ethan Isaly and Hayden Trembulak, and I’ve always believed that good teams are built from the back end out,” Pawlos said.

“So, coming into this season, we took an approach from a coaching perspective to make sure we had a capable defensive unit. If we take care of our defensive zone, other things can start to fall into place and take care of themselves.”

Offensively, the Indians expect in-game flow and opportunity will dictate how the scoring is spread. Patrick Megahan and Sam Kowalski are penciled in for significant time at forward. Ian Keller leads the team in points with three, one goal and two assists.

“He’s a guy who’s played really well for us in the first few games. He’s been a big contributor,” Pawlos said.

“If we look at our lines, one through three, I do think we have a number of guys who are capable of pitching in. We won’t have to rely on one single guy or aspect of our offense, night-in and night-out.”

North Hills hosted Montour on Monday at Robert Morris’ Island Sports Center. Results were unavailable for this edition.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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