Pine-Richland hockey looks to maintain success after winter break
By: Kevin Lohman
Friday, January 4, 2019 | 7:06 PM
There are only a few PIHL teams playing hockey as well as Pine-Richland as the new year begins.
With 11 out of 19 regular season games down, the Rams (11-0) are the only undefeated team in Class AA, and are just one of three unbeaten squads left in all the PIHL.
The team sits atop the Trib PIHL Power Rankings.
The season, however, has reached its slowest point in terms of games being played. In fact, in the past month, Pine-Richland has only played in two league games. With the break in the action comes the concern of complacency, especially with a team that was so hot prior to the break.
Coach Jordan Yoklic is aware of the trappings of the holiday break and how it slows down the action, and says he’s making sure he’s pushing the right buttons to keep his team from a post-holiday letdown.
“I’m fortunate to have family that’s coached before, and my uncle told me, ‘You’re either getting better as a team, or you’re getting worse,’ ” Yoklic said.
“I think that’s true. No team is going to be the same for the entire year. I kind of run with that and look at it that way. I want us to be the team that is getting better as the season rolls along, so I’m trying to put that in their ear. It’s been a great start but we want to make sure we continue to put in the time at practice and get better every day so we can keep it going now.”
Continuing to push the players in practice, despite their early-season successes, is instrumental if Pine-Richland is to attain its goals this season, according to Yoklic.
The first-year coach said his seniors, particularly captains Will Studt, Nicholas Monaco and Brandon Kashur, have been crucial when it comes to setting the right tone in practice daily.
Moving forward with the right mindset could prove crucial for the Rams as they head out of the holiday break right into one of their toughest stretches of their schedule to date. In the 18 days spanning from Jan. 10-28, the Rams will face off against Hempfield, Armstrong, Franklin Regional and Hampton. Of the four upcoming opponents, only one possesses a record under .500.
“I would say it’s a big test. We have a lot of good teams coming up on this stretch of the schedule,” Yoklic said.
“I’d expect all the teams we play are getting better each and every day, so I would look at this as a good test for Pine-Richland. I just want to make sure we’re prepared in all facets of the game so we can reach our goals, get some wins, and keep moving in the right direction.”
Pine-Richland will play at Hempfield at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.