Revamped roster aims to keep North Hills hockey on the rise

Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 7:56 PM

The North Hills hockey team was one of the most surprising success stories in PIHL Class A last season as it racked up a regular season record of 13-5 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs under the tutelage of first-year head coach Kevin Pawlos.

The level of success attained last season was particularly impressive considering the 2-17 mark the team put up the year before.

Now, in his second season at the helm, Pawlos is tasked with continuing that success while having to replace a number of key contributors from last year’s Indians squad, including their scoring leader, Ian Keller, and Liam O’Neill, their top goal scorer, both of whom graduated.

“It’s interesting,” Pawlos said. “We had some big pieces to our team that graduated last year and we were successful, but I think what we did was to lay the foundation for the team moving forward and into this season.

“We have sophomores and juniors on the team, so it’s not like we’re filling all of those roles with freshmen, but we do have a couple freshmen that will contribute. I think we’re in a good spot, overall, where we have a team that’s three, four lines deep and I think that’s what you need in order to be successful in high school hockey.”

The Indians do have a number of veterans that they can rely on to steer the ship in juniors Teddy Kiger, Ryan Kosylo and goalkeeper Ethan Isaly. Zach Miller and Tyler Rodney are two seniors that will also be depended upon to lead this season.

Forwards Connor Stutz and Patrick Megahan, as well as defenseman Asher Rodriguez, are three more experienced returners who may be in line for an expanded role this year.

However, North Hills’ success this season will also depend on the play of newcomers such as juniors Connor Burik and Roman Rennebeck.

Additionally, Pawlos said sophomore Derek Pietrzyk and freshman Owen Sroka are skilled youngsters that the team expects big things out of.

“There are definitely some new faces on the team, but I really do think we have a nice, balanced attack. Ultimately, I think we’re just going to be a tough team to play against,” the second-year coach said.

“We’re going to create some tough matchups with our lines. We have some big bodies that can play a more physical game, and we have skill guys that can play on the other side of that. I think it makes us a matchup nightmare and it’ll be interesting to see how other teams react to us. I think if we stick to our system and stay disciplined, we’ll continue our success from last year to this year.”


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