Conference leaders CR South, CB West & Archbishop Wood are featured in this week’s SHSHL Notebook that also includes Brian Good’s selections for last week’s three stars as well as the league’s leaders.
By Brian Good
Roughly one third of the way through this regular season, we take a look at the each of the division leaders. CR South, CB West and Archbishop Wood have just one loss between them and look to be flying high. But how will the division landscape look come late February when it matters, and can the teams at the top right now stay at the top?
CR South: Golden Hawks Strong Out of the Gate
Joe Houk has been the head coach for Council Rock South for quite some time and has seen some good teams come through his program. This year’s squad seems to be another one of those teams set to compete for the division crown, but it wasn’t necessarily the expectation from Houk and his staff at the start of the year.
“You know what - me and my assistant coach Mark (Sibre) have been sort of surprised by this hot start,” said Houk, “We knew we had a decent team, we’ve had the same team for the last couple of years, but I don’t think we expected to come out of the gate like this.”
Most teams can be competitive as long as they have a strong net minder, and CR South may have the best in the league in Mason Procz. Procz leads the league in wins (four) and save percentage (.950) and boasts a 1.10 GAA to go along with those numbers.
In the Hawks’ big win against CB South, Procz stopped 38 of 39 shots, holding a Titans offense that came in averaging 9.75 goals a game to just one lone tally.
“Goaltending is number one for us because all good things in hockey are built from the goal line out,” Said Houk.“Mason (Procz) has just been great and has just really gotten better every year he’s been with the program.”
In addition to Procz, the Hawks also have freshman goaltender Jeremy Siegel who has made an appearance in three games this season and earned himself a 2-1 record with some stellar play.
It’s not just fantastic goaltending, CR South has gotten some great play from their skaters as well, led by coach Houk’s son, captain Jake Houk.
Houk is second on the team with 11 points this season and while the father-son dynamic can tend to be a complicated one for a coach and player, coach Houk has experience with his sons on the team.
“This is my fourth time around having a son on one of my teams,” the Golden Hawks’ coach said. “Jake (Houk) does a good job, he’s been stellar on the blue line, he’s really come a long way and he’s grown six inches since this time last year. I made him captain this past week because I think his leadership is proven and he’s done a nice job.”
It’s that leadership and strong goaltending that has this team ready to compete. In a year that the coaches didn’t really know what they had, this team has shot out of the gate and proven that they’re ready to be contenders for the division crown and possibly beyond that.
CB WEST: Defense Paying Dividends for the Bucks
After Council Rock South topped defending state champion Central Bucks South 5-1, it looked as though the Hawks would be the team to beat in the SHSHL this season, especially with the way they dominated the game.
“They’ve got talent, they’ve got speed and they’re extremely well coached, and any time you’re facing that combination it’s going to be a tough team to play.” Said CB West head coach David Baun about CR South “When I saw that they beat CB South 5-1, when I saw that tweet come over, I honestly thought it was a misprint. That’s not a knock on Council Rock either, I just know how good CB South is.”
That win by CR South set up another battle of undefeated teams as CB West got set to face the Hawks. The Bucks handled business in a great back and forth matchup and proved that they very well may be the best team in SHSHL “AA” hockey this season.
After falling behind early on a goal from a bouncing puck sent in from center ice, the Bucks dominated the game, outshooting CR South 37-16 on their way to the 3-2 victory.
“I was really proud of my team after that Council Rock South game and not necessarily because we won, but the way we won,” said Baun. “Here we are in this tough game, we’re outshooting them and then their kid dumps the puck in from center ice and it bounces past our goaltender, and all of a sudden we’re down 1-0. I was worried about that because it’s pretty catastrophic, but our kids played cool and calm and only allowed 11 more shots for the rest of the game after that, which was more telling to me than the victory itself.”
That lockdown defensive performance from the Bucks has been the theme all season long as they’re averaging less than two goals against per game.
Defensemen Brandon Savona, Shawn Philipps, Mathew McCarthy and Luke McCleerey have done a spectacular job of limiting shots, protecting their own zone all season long. And, when teams have managed to beat the defense, the Bucks’ goaltending has been there to prevent any further damage.
The team rotates three goalies in Jonah Brous, Jeremy Kennard and Patrick Ventresca, but it’s the veteran Brous who stands out so far.
Last year’s all-Flyers Cup goaltender is 3-0 on the season with a minuscule 1.00 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage to go along with it. It’s been a team effort all season long to keep teams off the scoreboard, and it’s definitely paid dividends.
“If you’ve watched our team play, it all starts from our defense,” said Baun of his team’s early success. “Shawn Philipps and Brandon Savona are both seniors and they’re both able to dominate games in the defensive and the offensive zone through their puck movement up the ice. McCarthy is just a sophomore and McCleerey is a junior, but those two are right behind Philipps and Savona. We just have great defensemen back there that really make a difference.”
It has been an unbelievable start to the season for the Bucks, and with about two thirds of the season remaining, they look to be the team to beat.
In the not so distant past, CB West struggled to win multiple games in a season, but the steady build to the top has been taking place over the past few years. While they may not have expected to be undefeated, Baun and his staff knew this year had the potential to be a special one.
“I’d like to be able to say this start has been a surprise, but it’s been more by design,” Baun said. “Over the last three years, we’ve been building up to this. We went through three or four seasons where we probably won a total of four games, we had kids showing up to tryouts in rental skates.
“My feeling of high school sports is that they’re cyclical, most teams should endure times at the bottom and enjoy a time at the time. We paid our dues at the bottom - hopefully, we did it gracefully, and now we believe we should enjoy some time at the top and hopefully do it equally as gracefully.”
ARCHBISHOP WOOD: Seniors Lead Vikings
While CR South and CB West have darted to the top of the standings using strong defense and goaltending as their primary method, Wood has done it using a different blueprint: Score early and often.
The Vikings are 5-0-0 so far and third in the league in scoring with 50 goals through six games, thanks in large part to captain Timothy Cordero and his scoring acumen.
“Tim (Cordero) just loves to play hockey and you can see it every time he puts the skates on and it shows in his play,” said Wood head coach Tom Walsh. “You don’t really have to do much with him. He goes out, plays in our system, listens to us as coaches, and he’s one of the most unselfish kids on the team. He’s one of the best players out on the ice and it would be easy for him to be selfish, but he distributes the puck and knows how to play the game.”
Cordero leads the league in points with 26 (12 goals and 14 assists), and while he’s off to an unbelievable start, he isn’t the only player on his team breaking out, he isn’t even the only player on his own line breaking out.
His linemate, Patrick Sheehan, is having himself quite the season as well tallying 22 points thus far (12 goals 10 assists), making that line one of, if not the most dangerous in the SHSHL.
The problem for Wood going forward is their depth. With just 12 skaters on the varsity roster, any type of injury could derail them in their quest for a division title.
Luckily for them, nine of those 12 skaters are seniors, something that has been instrumental to the early success of the team.
“It’s definitely something that has helped this year especially with the number of skaters we have,” said Walsh, “Hopefully it will also help develop some of the younger players on the team and then our middle school players will see how successful we can be, stay with the program, and build us up for the future.”
The way they’ve started has been pretty close to perfect, but if the Vikings hope to finish the year in first place in the division, they are going to have to keep it up.
SHSHL American foes Plymouth Whitemarsh and Wissahickon are on the Vikings’ tail with just one loss apiece as the race for the division crown is setting up to come down to the wire come February.
SHSHL 3 STARS OF THE WEEK
1. Ari Nordlinger, F, Upper Dublin– 8 Goals 3 Assists
Nordlinger continues to be one of the bright spots for an Upper Dublin team that’s had a slow start to the season. He kicked off the week with a six-goal, three-assist performance against Upper Moreland and then added two more goals against Wood. Nordlinger is first in goals in “A” (19) and second in points (25).
2. Gabe Evans, F, Souderton – 3 Goals 0 Assists
Evans didn’t put up some of the gaudy numbers that other players in the league did, but he came to play when it mattered most. Souderton fell behind 2-0 early on in their game against rival North Penn but back-to-back goals from Evans tied it up as they would eventually win 6-5 and improve to 4-1-1 on the year. The hat trick from Evans gives him 12 on the year, good for first in “AA”.
3. Patrick Sheehan, F, Archbishop Wood – 6 Goals 6 Assists
Sheehan was the week’s leading scorer, tallying 12 points, and he did it while his team dominated. The Vikings won their two games by a combined score of 23-3 and are off to a scorching hot start (5-1-0). If they can keep getting performances like this from Sheehan and fellow forward Timothy Cordero (1st in the league in points), they are going to be a hard team to beat.
SHSHL LEAGUE WEEK 3 LEADERS
1.Michael Roarty (TRU) – 21
T-1.Gabe Evans (SOU) – 12
1.Joe Anton (CBW) – 10
2.Matt Stoll (CBS) – 17
T-1.Luke Slater (PR) – 12
2.Michael Roarty (TRU) – 9
T-3.Gabe Evans (SOU) – 16
T-1.Michael Roarty (TRU) – 12
T-3.Andrew Galetta (NP) – 8
T-3.Luke Slater (PR) – 16
T-4.Bryan McIntosh (CBE) – 10
T-3.Jared Albano (NP) – 8
5.Andrew Galetta (NP) – 15
T-4.Matt Stoll(CRS) – 10
T-5.Dylan Feoli (CRS) – 7
5.Steven Avellino (TRU) – 9
T-5.Nathan Raccagno (PB) – 7
T-5.Jack McKeever (WT) – 7
T-5.Matt Stoll (CBS) – 7
T-5.Reis Braccio (CBS) – 7
T-5.Corey Stouffer (NP) – 7
T-5.Josh Finlayson (PR) – 7
1.Timothy Cordero (AW) – 26
1.Ari Nordlinger (UD) – 19
1.Timothy Cordero (AW) – 14
2.Ari Nordlinger (UD) – 25
2.Luke Brzozowski (PW) – 15
2.Patrick Sheehan (AW) – 10
T-2.Patrick Sheehan (AW) – 17
3.Dean Keller (PW) – 14
T-3.Matt Wilson (WIS) – 9
4. Dean Keller (PW) – 21
T-4.Sean Garry (WIS) – 13
T-3.Brandon Cullura (AW) – 9
5.Luke Brzozowski (PW) – 20
T-4.Coleman Peppelman (LM) – 13
5.Chris Zawislak (PW) – 8