Bethlehem Press

Monday, October 15, 2018

LHS hockey felt better than 4-10-1 record

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 by Scott Pagel spagel@tnonline.com in Sports

The Liberty hockey team may not have had the results in terms of wins this year, finishing at 4-10-1, but their season was still filled with highlights and quality play.

The Hurricanes were actually a mix of kids from all over the area, which included Saucon Valley, Phillipsburg, Warren Hills, Pocono Mountain, Palmerton, Moravian Academy and Quakertown.

The year started off with a 11-0 loss to Freedom, which finished second in the league losing to Parkland in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic League finals, but head coach John Snyder said a tie against Emmaus and wins over Becahi/Central kept spirits up. Snyder said the team played Northampton, another playoff team, tough in a 6-3 loss.

“[That game is] where the true grit and physicality of my players shined,” Snyder said. “There’s something about the games with the Konkrete Kids that have always turned into a hard-hitting, physical game and I find myself constantly reminding my boys to stay focused on the game, no retaliatory hits and take a body.”

Snyder said in that particular game Erik Sundlof, a forward who also plays football for Saucon Valley, raced from a football game to the rink, and, after arriving late in the game, scored a hat trick in the third period to bring LHS roaring back into contention.

Liberty also played Parkland well in a close, 4-0 game. Snyder said Parkland averaged about nine goals a game this season, and his team played a stringent defensive-style pattern. LHS goalie Andrew Ornosky turned back 32 out of 36 shots on net.

“The coaching staff was constantly examining, discussing, and switching around line combinations until we discovered what truly clicked about midway through the season,” Snyder said. “We had some strong forwards move back on defense, and became our utility players.”

Snyder mentioned Peter Atkins, Jared Meyer, and Colin Eagan, who all play as forwards for their travel teams, but were cooperative in the move back to defense.

“As the season progressed and the team gelled, I noticed that bonds had been formed as the players kept in touch with each other and the typical high school locker room “banter” was amusing,” Snyder said. “I could not have undertaken this role as a coach and had the pleasant season that we experienced without my assistant coaches. Scott Miller, who also coaches the Phantoms Youth U16AA team, thinks and speaks with those red and blue dots constantly. He is so quick to grab the marker board on the bench and point out position playing and hypotheticals, it is amazing to witness his ability.”

Snyder had two Bethlehem police officers join this season. William Boerstler and Paul Fischer. Paul is a Liberty graduate and played hockey for the Hurricanes ten years ago.

“I must point out that not once did I experience a negative attitude or receive an inappropriate comment from any of my players,” Snyder said. “The parents were very grateful and supportive, the players were an awesome group to work with.

“As we had ten players who are seniors this year, I am not sure what the fate of our team will be next year. I am hoping that we will be able to merge with another squad who will be low in numbers as well. We’ll see.”