Sewickley Academy hockey looking to build momentum

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Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 11:01 AM


For a majority of the 2019-20 PIHL season, Sewickley Academy was on the losing end of things.

The Panthers were 0-16, losing only three of those by two goals or fewer. But, as the season neared its end, the Panthers started to settle into a rhythm and won two of their final three games.

“In order to be successful, you have to work as a team, and I think during those couple of wins, we really buckled down, and players contributed at their positions the way we needed,” coach Chris Chiusano said. “Sometimes guys want to do more than they should or they don’t do enough, and during those couple of wins, guys did what they needed to do to be a part of a team.”

The Panthers took down Wheeling Catholic, 8-3, and then capped their season with a 5-3 win over Beaver. They were the type of games the team could look at and build on for this season.

Sewickley Academy started its season Nov. 2 with a 7-2 loss to Chartiers Valley, but Chiusano feels like it was a decent building point.

“We really started to get some confidence, and we really started playing better, and we got a couple wins under our belts,” Chiusano said. “It’s kind of the goal this season is to build on how we ended last season.”

Just like last year, the Panthers will have a relatively young team, with just four seniors on the roster. Along with being young, Chiusano said the Panthers also will have another small team. Last year, they had a squad of about 13 or 14 kids, and it looks like they will be in the same position again this year with 13 players on the roster.

But while the Panthers have a small squad, Chiusano believes they will be able to use it to their advantage as the season goes on.

“Being that we do have such a small squad, we are going to condition guys to play long shifts and entire games,” Chiusano said. “We had a couple games last year where we had like eight skaters on the ice. So out of necessity, guys get into shape in a hurry, and as the season wears on, a lot of players get tired, and that we’ll be to our benefit because our guys will be accustomed to playing short-handed and not having a big bench.”

Sewickley Academy lost only one senior after last season, so a majority of this year’s team banked solid minutes. It starts with junior Jack Gordon, who scored a team-high 21 goals and added eight assists as he earned a spot on the PIHL Class A all-star team.

“He’s gonna, obviously, be a guy we rely on a lot from a scoring standpoint,” Chiusano said. “But we also have two senior goaltenders in the back, too.”

Thomas Sykes will be one of the netminders, and he played in all 19 games last season, making 734 saves on 867 shots. Brady Moseberger also is back for the Panthers after missing last season, and Chiusano is hoping to use both of them as the season goes on.

“On the back end, we’ll be relying on both of those guys to be leaders and to keep us in games and give us opportunities to win,” Chiusano said.

The Panthers also will lean on the McEnroe brothers. Twins Christopher and Joseph have filled roles defensively, and Matt is back for another year after scoring seven goals and tallying eight assists as a freshman last season.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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