Shaler hockey trying to salvage season

Thursday, January 30, 2020 | 9:45 PM

Things were admittedly bleak for Shaler Area senior Blake Kucharski and teammates.

Heading into the holiday break, the Titans hockey team didn’t have much to show in the win column. Losing 10 of their first 11 contests had Kucharski, an assistant captain, and Shaler searching for answers.

“I think we all thought we were done,” Kucharski said. “Then once coach sat us down and told us we still had a shot at the playoffs, it ignited something in us, and we had the desire to win again. We didn’t want our last meaningful games to be in the regular season.”

Last Tuesday, Kucharski and the seniors showed they weren’t ready to be done. Kurcharski finished with a career-high four points — one goal and three assists — and all of Shaler’s seniors recorded at least one point in a 7-1 senior night win over Moon.

Seniors Adam Baginski (two) and Sam Stayduhar scored, and goalie Anthony Hefferin made 17 saves.

“I mean, on senior night, everyone was buzzing out there,” Kucharski said. “I felt I needed to step up as a player, and I only had one point on the year entering the game. We had a couple guys who carried the team. I felt as a leader and an assistant captain I had to do something.”

In the three games since the holiday break, Shaler (3-11) went 2-1. The Titans beat Northwest Division leader and perennial power Quaker Valley, 4-3, before losing 4-3 to West Allegheny.

With four games remaining, Shaler still has a chance to catch Armstrong and earn a playoff spot. The Titans are five points behind the River Hawks.

“We’re letting up fewer shots on goal,” Shaler coach Steve Stayduhar said. “With the changes we’ve made to our lineup, we’ve been able to capitalize more on our scoring chances.”

Against Moon, Shaler never trailed, building a lead behind goals from Dylan Sarnowski and Baginski. Sam Stayduhar, William Junker and Dalton Frankert also scored for the Titans.

Shaler’s hoping the energy can carry the Titans into second place.

Steve Stayduhar is disappointed the schedule is only 18 games this season. In the past, the PIHL had 21 games in the regular season.

“Even in our losses, there were only two games all year we got blown out in, and we were in penalty trouble in one of those games,” Stayduhar said. “The other teams know they are in a battle with us. We fought hard all year long, and the breaks are starting to go our way. It’s a shame the season isn’t longer.”


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