South Fayette hockey team off to fast start in PIHL Class A
By: Nathan Smith
Friday, October 26, 2018 | 12:03 AM
The South Fayette hockey team is on the prowl.
What is it hungry for? Wins.
Despite losing a talented senior class from last season’s team, the Lions have pounced on the competition early and are off to a 3-0 start.
“The guys who are seniors this year were freshmen when we went to the Penguins Cup finals three years ago,” South Fayette coach Frank Certo said. “Last year, we made it to the semifinals. These guys have seen what it takes to be a top-notch team. We have been working on it for a bunch of years now.”
South Fayette recorded wins over Chartiers Valley, South Park and Wheeling Catholic during the opening stretch. The Lions outscored the competition 17-1.
Certo said the team’s overall depth can make South Fayette hard for opposing teams to match up with. On offense, the team has four lines.
“That is almost unheard of at the Class A level,” Certo said. “We have a couple of scoring lines who can move the puck around and make things happen. We also have a line that can come out and hit you. They complement each other well.”
Ian Kumar and Daniel Pollock are on the first line and have been leading the attack. Kumar has scored six goals with four assists so far this season, while Pollock has three goals with six assists.
“They know each other well,” Certo said. “Danny is kind of a power forward. Ian has experience from playing with the Penguins Elite team. He is a finisher with a hard, good shot. They have been playing on a line with a freshman named Alex Keller. He is a small kid that can really fly and is a playmaker.”
Keller is third on the team in points with a goal and four assists.
The second line complements South Fayette’s 1-2 punch. Nolan Sarnowski, who was an all-star selection last season, has scored a pair of goals. Ethan Szymanski and Adam Unruh have each recorded three points.
Powering the defense has been the play of goalkeeper Bruce Hardman. The senior has been strong so far this season with 31 saves on 32 shots for a 96.9 save percentage.
“He has worked his butt off,” Certo said. “He has played a little AAA travel hockey, so he has been playing better competition and has gotten some good coaching.”
The defensive core has also been strong. Senior Augie Bishop was selected for the PIHL Class A all-star game last season.
“Johnny (Trinkala) is a hammer,” Certo said. “He will rush the puck and hit you when you are not paying attention. We are aggressive on the back end. We have some younger defenseman who are working their way in.”
The Lions will look to use their depth to continue to find success this season. While Class A has a number of high-quality teams, Certo feels his squad is in position to ranked among the best.
“These kids have pride in what they do,” Certo said. “If we play the hockey we can play with our grit and our system, I think we can beat anyone in the league.
“We play in a tough league. But if we are not one of the last four or so teams, something went wrong.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.
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