Shaler hockey struggles with low numbers

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Thursday, January 3, 2019 | 10:09 PM


Circumstances have been bleak for the Shaler hockey team the past month.

Being largely undermanned and outgunned has led the Titans to a precarious position.

“We’ve played with one kid over 17 the past month,” Shaler junior forward Sam Stayduhar said.

Despite this, the Titans remained tied with Quaker Valley for fifth in the PIHL’s Northwest Division.

Shaler (1-8-3) opens the second half of the season against Hampton at Alpha Ice Complex. The Titans hope better help will yield better results.

Only 12 of Shaler’s 27 players have taken part in all 12 games. The rest have been beset by injuries and illness.

“It’s been rough,” coach Steve Stayduhar said. “Even out of the six call-ups, two of them were out quite a bit. We played one game with only five varsity players. In order to get 12 kids to play, we made another ninth-grader a permanent varsity player.”

The injuries have provided opportunities for young players to learn, and getting used to the physicality of the varsity game has been one of the major challenges.

“There’s some kids that took full advantage of it,” Steve Stayduhar said. “Kids who would have been third-line guys who took advantage of it. They are better for playing. We knew going into the season it was going to be tough year. On the bright side, those kids get even more varsity experience for next year.”

The growing pains have shown during the Titans’ 11-game slide. Shaler’s 24 goals rank 11th out of 14 in Class AA.

Adam Baginski leads Shaler with five goals, and William Junker, Spencer Platt and Dalton Frankert have three each.

Sam Stayduhar would like to see the Titans focus on putting more pressure on their opponents. Shaler has conceded 66 goals and struggled to keep the puck.

“We have to start playing hard again,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, we had a lot more intensity and we lost it. Over the next stretch, we have to get back to playing normal hockey again. Not being content playing in the defensive zone. For the past six games or so, we’ve been down so many guys we got used to playing in our own end.”

By making those adjustments, Shaler might be able to sneak into the playoffs for the third straight year.

The Titans aren’t planning on wasting their last few games.

“We want to take what we can from this year and carry it into next season,” Sam Stayduhar said. “We still have a good shot to make the playoffs with a few more wins.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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