Pine-Richland junior having breakthrough season on ice

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Saturday, January 16, 2021 | 9:01 AM


When Alex Erlain’s skates touch the ice, his Pine-Richland teammates and coaches know he’ll make every second of his shift count.

The junior forward has emerged as an offensive playmaker with a team-leading 11 points through five games this season after scoring all of four points one year ago. He is second only to North Allegheny’s Connor Chi, who has scored 15 points in seven games, in Class AAA.

“Alex is a hardworking player no matter what we ask of him,” Pine-Richland coach Jordan Yoklic said. “He’ll get to the ugly areas. He loves shooting the puck. When he does have the puck, the opponent has to be cautious of what he’s going to do with it, because he’s got a terrific shot and he can make the play to his teammates if that’s available. Take a look the statistics. That’s reflective of his work.”

Yoklic has regularly penciled in Erlain with two of the team’s three senior leaders, Griffin Roth and Dom Desjardins, which has helped him play with more confidence.

“I love playing with Griffin and Dom,” Erlain said. “I’ve played with Griffin since I was young on travel teams. I played with Dom this year on a travel team. We know how each other plays. We click well and put a lot of pressure on other teams.”

Erlain, Roth and Desjardins have combined for 13 goals, and they’re not alone in filling up the score sheet.

Pine-Richland senior Samuel Perry leads the Rams with six goals, and five more players have multiple goals this season. Senior Charlie Mill, the team’s leading scorer last winter, has played in one game and likely will be able to make his presence felt, too.

“We can roll all four lines,” Erlain said. “I believe our fourth line can beat some other teams’ first line. Every line can score and be successful because we have so many skilled players. I believe anyone else can (lead us in scoring), too. We’re all brothers. We can all do it as long as we’re doing it together. I don’t believe in single player success. It’s a team sport.”

Erlain points to last year’s seniors in addition to his current teammates as an influence on his game.

His brother Anthony Erlain was one of nine players who graduated without being able to finish the postseason.

“My brother Anthony had the biggest impact on me,” Alex Erlain said. “We started playing together when I was only 3 or 4. Playing with him last year was awesome and it made our bond and friendship even better. He’s a grinder. He’ll do anything for the team. Everything he did, he did it with a lot of heart, so I really try to mimic him in that way.”

The biggest goal Erlain is after is the Penguins Cup.

“That would be awesome, and it’s not like we’re trying to win it just for this year’s team,” Erlain said. “Last year’s seniors didn’t get that opportunity. We had a good chance that got cut short. I believe we can do it, and we’re trying to do it for them, too.”

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