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Greensburg Salem hockey makes most of small roster

November 18, 2018

At times, Greensburg Salem’s hockey team feels like it is trying to kill a penalty even when no one is in the box.

The Golden Lions’ small roster is the culprit.

“We just don’t have the numbers most of these teams do,” Greensburg Salem coach John McNair said. “It’s tough when we’re going up against a 20-player bench, and we only have 13 or 15. I am relying on my four or five core players to take a majority of the ice. It can get rough.”

Greensburg Salem usually rolls just two forward lines, which leads to some tired legs late in games.

“Some of the games we’ve played, we’ve been in the game for the first two periods. When we get to the third period, most of the team is just worn out form being out all the time and the other teams have the numbers where they can just pull away,” Greensburg Salem senior captain Zack Szolek said. “I definitely have a lot of ice. I am out there every other shift. It would definitely help to have a few more bodies on the team. I don’t mind playing all the time because I love the game, but it does get tiring after a while.

“We’re working hard in practice and skating a lot and trying to get our cardio up so we can get used to all the skating we have to do.”

Colin Kruth and Szolek, who has a team-best four goals, skate together on the first line.

Colin McNair, who leads the team with six points, and Brendon Linderman, who has four points, are on the second line.

Josiah Stouffer and Calvin Ent will skate on either line, and Colton Crabtree and Nathan Hetrick see some shifts as well.

“We’re trying to find the right balance where we have two good lines that we can produce with consistently,” Szolek said. “We don’t want to have just one good line and one inconsistent one.”

Pat Sweeney, Jonah Faulk, Cody Kushner, Cullen Carney, Preston Henry and John Couknas have seen time on defense.

Freshman goaltenders Cameron Caretti and Andrew Stead both share time.

“They are both trained goalies, and that’s the first time we’ve had that at Greensburg Salem since I can remember,” John McNair said. “They both are equally talented, and I am going to challenge them to do their best. It’ll be nice to have them over the next couple years, too.”

The Golden Lions started out 0-3. They dropped a pair of games to Norwin and rallied against Westmont Hilltop but fell short 4-3.

“It was positive for the team to have a close game. It came down to the wire,” Szolek said. “The younger kids are starting believe in themselves and in the team that we can break through for a win.”

The squad looks to carry what momentum it has into Monday’s game against Kiski Area.

“We really brought things together in the Westmont game. Even the young kids pitched in for us then,” John McNair said. “They are not quitting on me. There’s no giving up. We were down in that Westmont game, and we kept clawing back. That’s how it’ll be all season with the limited roster we have.

“I see a lot of potential, though. I am always positive with these guys. I think we have nowhere to go but up from here. We’re coming together as a team every practice to accomplish our goal of a winning season.”

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