Shaler hockey hoping strong finish vs. Penn-Trafford provides late-season lift

Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 11:00 PM

Shaler hockey got a wake-up call when the PIHL started the second half of the season. The Titans had a 2-1 lead against Penn-Trafford before they were buried by a scoring onslaught. The Warriors scored four goals in four minutes en route to a 7-6 win.

Shaler coach Steve Stayduhar was encouraged with how the Titans played in the third period. They scored three goals — all by Sam Stayduhar — and nearly completed the comeback. Shaler hopes the performance will be a catalyst for the stretch run.

“Hopefully, because the third period we dominated them,” Steve Stayduhar said. “We did some soul searching in the locker room between the second and third periods. We scored three goals and hit a post, otherwise we would have tied the game.”

The Titans — who played Upper St. Clair on Monday in a game that ended too late for this edition — have been up and down all season. Shaler started 0-3 before rallying to put itself in playoff position. The Titans (6-5-1) have 13 points and are in fifth place, four points behind first and two out of third.

Continuing to climb will require playing smart hockey. At times, Shaler is being undone by untimely turnovers in its own end.

“We need to avoid crucial blunders,” Stayduhar said. “If we're going to compete in the playoffs, we can't make mistakes.”

The Titans have been solid on offense, scoring 48 goals. Cam Wycich has a team-high 10 goals, and Mitchel Fuchs (eight), Sam Stayduhar (eight), Mitchell Werry (five) and Seth Walzer (four) round out the top five.

Playing better overall defense will be an important factor. Shaler has allowed 53 goals, which is the most of anyone in its division. Only two teams in Class AA — North Hills and Montour — have allowed more, and those teams have a combined record of 3-19-2.

While Shaler has a young defensive corps, Stayduhar said getting a better effort will have to come from the entire lineup.

“It's the whole entire team playing defense,” he said. “From the goalie to the defensemen to the forwards. We're scoring goals and taking a ton of shots. If we end up correcting it, we're as good as any team in the league.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.


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