|High School Ice Hockey:
Can Santa Deliver In Time For The Playoffs?
Wednesday, December 3, 2003
By Mike Costantino
It is the holiday season, a time to see who has been naughty and who has been nice, and a time to make a list and ask the big guy for that one special gift. Lets take a look back at the first half of the SJHSIHL season and see what certain teams should ask for as they all gear up for the tournament:
Eastern Vikings - Defending champions, undefeated, arguably the best goalie and the top offensive line in the league. Average margin of victory has been five goals. With nine seniors on the team, focus should not be a problem, but maybe Coach Pontonio should ask Santa for blinders, just to make sure his team keeps its eyes on the prize.
Rancocas Valley - Surprising team of the first half, getting solid goal tending from Kevin Kraft and Chelsea Ward who have a combined goals against average of 2.78. Plays good team defense and relies on contributions from all three lines. This would explain why they have only one scorer in the top 20. Maybe Coach should ask for an offensive minded forward from Santa.
Cherokee - Experienced some early season growing pains under new Coach Steve Rumbos, but lately have bought in to his philosophy of defense first and the goals will come because of hard work. They need more consistent play in goal if they want to challenge for the championship. Coach Rumbos might ask Santa to convince Bill Connolly to play regularly; he could prove the difference come playoff time.
Clearview - The leagues top new player in freshman Jim Sprinkle, who teams with Bill Dunbar and Wyatt Fox to form an explosive line that rivals the Eastern trio. How dangerous would this team be if they had AAA player Chris Riggs? Relatively young team, only four seniors, could be a year away from contending, but continued strong play in nets from Bobby Kovarovic could speed up the process. Coach Sullivan would probably tell Santa to keep his presents; he will do it his way!
Washington Township - Jason Pelle and Fred Brewer lead Washington Township. Returning to league play this year after spending last season competing against AAA teams, this relatively young team is coached by Mike Rohach. In their eight wins, they have averaged almost eight goals. In their three losses, they averaged just over three goals per game. Maybe Santa should leave a magic eight ball under the Township tree.
Paul VI - Led by juniors Brett Balco, Zach Booth, Rich Ferro and Dustin Isbert along with sophomore goalie Eric Lake, they are a team of streaks, having both a four game winning streak as well as a four game losing streak. Need to shore up their defense that has allowed the most shots per game. Santa might bring the Eagles a championship this season, but it will probably be in football.
Looking ahead, Eastern has a very favorable schedule and might not lose a game with their toughest test coming at the end of the season against Township. The big battle will be for second through fourth place as only three points separate the teams.
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