Norwin hockey focuses on positives after abrupt exit from playoffs

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | 5:07 PM

Norwin hockey’s season ended Tuesday night when the Knights fell 3-2 to Kiski Area in the first round of the PIHL Class A Penguins Cup playoffs.

But it didn’t diminish the progress the program made.

For years, the Knights floundered at the bottom of the standings before taking a step forward last winter that parlayed into one of their best seasons ever this year, finishing 15-5-1.

“Every single player in the locker room should be proud of what they did on the ice this year,” first-year Norwin coach Adam Tokarski said. “They were great all season, and I couldn’t be prouder of what they did.”

Norwin’s strong season was ended by another team that has had a remarkable turnaround.

Kiski Area won only once last season but rebounded to win the Class A Northeast Division.

Jonathan Ayres scored the winning goal on the power play six minutes into the second period.

Ashton Yemc scored Norwin’s first goal on a shot from the point to tie the score 1-1 in the first. Aiden Sites scored 30 seconds into the second period to put Kiski Area back on top, and Ayres made it 3-1.

Logan Connelly scored off a turnover at the blue line in the final minute of the second to get Norwin within 3-2, and the Knights battled in the third but couldn’t get a puck past Cavaliers goalie Eric Petika.

Connelly was part of a potent first line with Jacob Dally and Mason Pivarnik that combined for 128 points in the regular season, but Dally was unable to play Tuesday because of injury.

Another key forward, Sal Cerilli, also was out with an injury. Cerilli scored the winning goal with three minutes remaining in Norwin’s 4-3 win over Kiski Area in the regular season Nov. 5.

Because of those absences, Tokarski had to shuffle the lines Tuesday. The injuries hurt the power play in particular, as Norwin went 0 for 4 with the man advantage.

“With all the changes in the lineup, guys just weren’t clicking in front of the net,” Tokarski said. “That was the biggest issue.”

Norwin goalie Sam Coll had a strong game, making 24 saves, including several glove saves in the third that kept the Knights within a goal.

“He was great (Tuesday),” Tokarski said. “We had a lot of guys coming back and supporting him, too, by clearing out rebounds after he made saves.”

Coll, Cerilli, Yemc and Logan Marsalko, who had 13 goals this year, highlight a large group of returners. Other players expected back include Logan Fear, Will Dillner, Ty Shigo, Anthony Calvallaro, Aidan Rosko, Jacob Meier and Dylan Altfather.

The Knights graduate their top line of Dally, Pivarnik and Connelly. Defensemen Nate Good, Nathan Feczko and Devin Barrett and backup goalie Eric Miscampbell also graduate.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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