Plenty of positives for Baldwin hockey team

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Saturday, March 23, 2019 | 9:14 AM


Slowly but surely, the Baldwin hockey program is climbing up the ranks in the PIHL.

“Last season, when we moved up from A to AA, we missed the playoffs by a point,” coach Justin Glock said. “This year, we made the playoffs and won our first playoff game.

“Next season, we expect to do better than that. We have returning upperclassmen who have the ability to become factors every single game. We need to see these players to put this on display. We’ll also have a group of sophomores who will be depended upon to have a bigger and immediate impact.”

Baldwin posted a 9-9-1 regular-season record and 1-1 mark in the PIHL Class AA playoffs.

The Highlanders, who finished fifth in the Southeast Division, blanked Moon, 3-0, in the PIHL play-in round. A 6-2 first-round loss to Upper St. Clair followed.

“We obviously were disappointed with our outcome against USC,” Glock said. “They deserved to win and were the better team that night. Even though we were down 5-1, our players never quit and gave a great effort in the third period.

“I think the mentality from this game epitomizes our season. We started 1-3-1, then were 3-6-1 at the halfway point. The playoffs were looking bleak. The players could’ve given up on the season, especially after we lost three one-goal games in a row. But it was a testament to them that they made a huge turnaround to make the playoffs. They looked at those one-goal losses as a positive instead of a negative. It showed they could compete with anyone in Class AA.”

The Highlanders outscored the opposition 70-65 this season and were sparked by four players in particular.

Junior defenseman Paul Zmuda led the way with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists), followed by senior forward Andrew Golvash with 18 (10 goals, eight assists). Junior forward Jason Kravulic had 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) and sophomore forward Keith Reed 15 (10 goals, five assists).

“Andrew Golvash stepped up and led the forward group at the end of the year,” Glock said. “He went on a scoring run unlike anything I’ve witnessed in the PIHL. He had seven points through our first 15 games. He then scored six goals in our last three regular-season games and two goals in our first playoff game.

“He had eight points in our last four regular-season games, more than doubling his total scoring output. It was an amazing way for him to end his career at Baldwin.”

Senior goaltender Cole Shannon finished with an 8-10-1 record with one shutout (against Moon). In the regular season, he gave up 53 goals on 499 shots, registering a 3.17 goals-against average and .894 save percentage.

Shannon and Zmuda were selected to play in the PIHL all-star showcase event. It was Shannon’s third all-star berth.

Baldwin’s seniors were Shannon, forwards Cameron Greenaway and Golvash, and defensemen Ross Zofcin, Nathan Hobson and Nathan Breisinger.

“Paul Zmuda and Ross Zofcin anchored our defensive play,” Glock said. “Ross was our top-scoring forward from a year ago and was unselfish enough to move to defense to help us in an area where we were struggling.

“Our entire senior class was a great group that led by example and class. They’ve set the standard for how Baldwin players should act and conduct themselves. There were no egos, and these six seniors played for the crest on the front of their jersey. They’ll be missed because aside from hockey, they’re great people.”

Zmuda was honored as PIHL Class AA Player of the Month for November. The Pittsburgh Penguins recognized Zmuda on the ice during their Dec. 20 game at PPG Paints Arena.

“Paul is one of the best all-around defensemen in the PIHL,” Glock said. “He’s versatile and can provide anything the team needs. He has shown the ability to shut down some of our opponents’ top forwards. He can also play a physical game and is very good at taking the body and standing other players up while defending.”

Baldwin started the season’s second half by winning four consecutive games to get back into the PIHL playoff picture.

“We improved as the season went along, and that’s what we strived to do,” Glock said. “Last year, we kept taking one step forward then one step back. This year, we kept building and building and got on a roll. Obviously, I want to start next season better than we did this season. We dug ourselves a hole and had to really battle out of it.

“I’d like to see our special teams improve. We struggled to be consistent and it’s imperative that we find more success on special teams next season.”

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