Step up in class doesn’t rattle Pine-Richland hockey team

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Friday, December 20, 2019 | 6:56 PM


With the first 10 games of the season behind them, the Pine-Richland hockey team has seemingly had very little difficulty in adjusting to PIHL Class AAA competition after winning Class AA division and state titles last year.

Sporting a 7-2-1 record, the Rams sit in second place overall in AAA. The team has now won its last three contests, including an early December 4-1 victory over rival North Allegheny (10-2-1), the first-place team in AAA. Now, head coach Jordan Yoklic and his group are heading into a three week-long holiday break before picking back up against the third-place team in their classification, Upper St. Clair (7-3).

“At this point of the season, with the last stretch of games going into the break, we wanted to build some momentum and leave it all out on the ice. I feel like we did that as a team,” Yoklic said. “The guys were effective in the gameplan and committed. They did what they had to do. It’ll be nice to get a breather and hopefully we’ll pick up where we left off against Upper St. Clair, who’s playing very well. I’m just really confident in this group of guys. They’re a hungry group.”

One of the significant driving forces for Pine-Richland’s continued success in AAA this season, according to Yoklic, is its leadership group. While many of the Rams players have displayed leadership qualities, seniors Jack Carnovale, Jack Tyndall and Joseph Folmer have decidedly fulfilled their obligations to their teammates as experienced varsity veterans.

Richard Wild and Daniel Stauffer are also credited as leaders on the team by Yoklic, and they’re showing up on the stat sheet with regularity as well.

Wild leads his team in points with 14 in 10 games. He is tied with Charles Mill for the team lead in goals with eight. Mill and Folmer have 10 points apiece, good for second-most on the team. Connor Salsbury, a junior, has also stepped up his play this year and has contributed nine points to the Rams’ scoring attack.

Stauffer, meanwhile, has reigned supreme between the pipes for Pine-Richland. No team in PIHL Class AAA has surrendered fewer goals than the Rams (18), and Stauffer is a big reason why. The senior

goalkeeper leads his team’s classification in wins (7) and save percentage (.929) and is tied for third in his class in goals-against average (1.71).

“He’s a dedicated individual. He has high expectations for himself and for the team. He earns everything he gets and he is a leader on this team,” Yoklic said. “I’m just very high on him. He’s an anchor back there for us. Defensively, we just try to allow him to see the puck as much as possible because we’re confident that he’s going to make the save. He’s a really athletic goaltender and he’s had an incredible season so far.”

Pine-Richland will play Upper St. Clair at 9 p.m. Jan. 9 at Baierl Ice Complex.

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