Senior captain sets tone for Shaler hockey turnaround

Sunday, November 22, 2020 | 11:01 AM

Tre Junker was surprised when Shaler hockey coach Cory Sakolsky handed him a playbook.

Junker, a senior forward for the Titans, has been playing hockey since he was 5. Before Shaler started its new era, Junker had questions.

“I wasn’t trusting it at first,” Junker said. “It was new to me having a playbook for hockey. Then we won our first two scrimmages and played well in our first two games. It seems like everything is working, and everyone is buying in.”

Junker, who leads Shaler with five points and four goals, has been spearheading Shaler’s offense for what he hopes is a sharp turnaround. After missing the postseason last year, the Titans led perennial Penguins Cup challenger Latrobe 1-0 after two periods before ultimately bowing, 3-2.

Shaler (1-1) responded in its second game by outshooting Plum 72-7 in a 6-1 win Nov. 9 at Pittsburgh Ice Arena. The Titans were forced to take a longer break after their Nov. 17 game against Armstrong was postponed.

Sakolsky, who is in his first year as coach, credits Junker for setting the tone after being named captain.

“He brings a lot of experience and a positive attitude, especially being a part of the Shaler baseball team that won the WPIAL championship in 2019,” Sakolsky said. “We’ve been clear from the beginning about establishing a new mentality on the ice, and Tre has taken over on the ice. He gets on guys who aren’t working hard.”

Junker recorded a hat trick, while Keegan May, Logan Miller and Mason Thom also scored. Shaler’s offensive approach has been to try to foster creativity. A straight-line approach isn’t going to work for the Titans.

“We’ve been trying to teach them patience,” Sakolsky said. “A lot of coaches at this level and age group teach to chase the puck and be aggressive. We want them to pick their spots and what their role is on the ice. … Hockey is much more than grabbing the puck and skating in a straight line.”

Junker also stressed different types of attacks based on game and the situation at hand. There’s no perfect answer for every moment.

“It starts in practice,” Junker said. “Coaches have been giving us new ways to enter the zone. We need to use more ways to be creative with different cycles and things like that. We want to be creative and use what is open during plays.”


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