Young Gateway lineup ‘trending in right direction’

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Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The Gateway junior varsity hockey team finished its regular season Feb. 14 with a tough 3-2 loss to Mt. Lebanon.

It completed a 3-10-3 run, and while that record might not look inspiring at face value, coach Shawn Jesih said a closer look reveals marked improvement for a roster with no seniors and a number of freshmen and sophomores who have stepped up.

“The boys are starting to realize that with any of their failures, they also are learning how to succeed,” said Jesih, who is helping oversee the team’s preparation for their season-ending JV tournament which is tentatively set to begin March 14.

Details of the tournament, including game dates and matchups, had not been released as of the deadline for this week’s edition.

“Every time we had a close and competitive game, the guys learned from it,” Jesih said.

“We’re still a young group, but we’ve matured throughout the season. We turned some of the losses and ties against teams earlier in the season into wins later on. We’ve been trending in the right direction.”

While a month will pass between the end of the regular season and the playoff tournament, Jesih said the team has met and will continue to meet for practice a couple of times a week to build on the positive accomplishments of the season while also focusing on being ready to return to game action.

Jesih said puck possession and avoiding shorthanded penalty-induced situations were key points of emphasis as the season progressed.

Of Gateway’s 16 games, seven finished in a tie or were decided by one goal.

The Gators went 2-2 over their final four games with wins over Montour, 10-0, and Chartiers Valley, 3-2.

Jesih pointed to the Chartiers Valley victory as an example of the team’s improvement. Gateway lost 6-0 to the Colts in the first meeting Oct. 29.

“Chartiers Valley is a strong and competitive team,” Jesih said.

“We got outshot and basically outplayed pretty handily in that first game. However, there were points of play where I thought we were pretty competitive.

“Going into the rematch, we tried to analyze the numbers on their end and our end, and tried to give our guys a good scouting report. I knew we had a good chance. Our kids battled, and it was a heckuva game. That win was very satisfying.”

Sophomore Gavin Green scored a team-best 12 goals for the Gators in 16 games after scoring four times as a freshman.

“Gavin has always had a lot of puck-possession ability,” Jesih said.

“More than anything, he’s learned to get himself into those areas where you need to be to get good looks and score. It is in front of the net, the dirty area, so to speak. When he gets in front of that net, most of the time his line mates, other playmakers or the defensemen will find a way to get him the puck. He does have that knack for finishing, that’s for sure.”

Green had two goals, including the game-winner, against Chartiers Valley. His first goal of that game, which gave Gateway a 1-0 lead, came on the power play.

“It’s exciting to see our improvement from last year,” Green said. “We’ve had different players step up throughout the season. We wish we would have a few more wins, but we’re young, and we’re not losing anyone for next year. We’re also gaining more good players.”

Fellow sophomore Hayden Hines is right up there among the scoring leaders with nine goals, and he also has provided five assists.

“Hayden has a crazy knack for scoring and a gift of stick-handling,” Jesih said. “But he’s not a shoot-first type of player. He’s always looking to make the right play.”

Sophomore Blake Marsh, who also scored against Chartiers Valley, owns five goals overall and three assists in 13 games, while freshmen Brendan Luptak and CJ Evans provided six and five assists, respectively, in the regular season.

Junior goaltender Jimmy Capell (3-7-1) owns a .874 save percentage and a 3.19 goals-against average over 11 games.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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