Bethlehem Press

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Freedom hockey looks for more wins

Thursday, January 9, 2020 by Jeff Moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Freedom’s hockey team knows what a difference a year makes.

Last season in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey (LVSHL), the Patriots were the surprise team of the league as they had one league loss before Northampton ended their season in the playoffs.

This year, the Patriots’ progress has been slowed by injuries as they will look to salvage some games in the final weeks. Freedom began the week with an overall 1-7-2 mark. It is a year of transition in which several younger players are breaking into the lineup.

“We are still fighting through some injuries,” said first-year head coach Matt Phillipes. “We lost some key players, but everyone else has been picking up the slack.

“We have had a number of players who have stood out.”

Phillipes referred to senior goalie Ryan Miller, sophomore winger Parker Frey, freshman center Ryan Hathaway, freshman and freshman forward Michael Moniz.

Miller has logged the overwhelming majority of minutes in the net with 232 saves.

Hathaway lead the team in scoring with 10 points, having seven goals and three assists. Max Kontir has seven points (four goals, three assists) and Justin Musella (three goals, two assists) and Matt Fanning (two goals, three assists) each have five points.

Frey (three points, one goal and two assists) and Moniz have been steady.

Phillipes also expects the return of senior defenseman Michal Kearns to life the lineup.

The Patriots won their second game of the season with a 4-1 victory over Emmaus and then worked to a 3-3 tie with Nazareth Nov. 18. Since they struggled defensively, their latest defeat was a 7-0 shutout to Northampton Dec. 20.

Freedom began the final phase of the season with a game against Easton Monday before a home contest against Emmaus Friday.

They will conclude their season with road games against Phillipsburg (Jan. 13), Southern Lehigh (Jan. 24), and Central-Beca (Jan. 27).

With a basically young squad, Freedom can continue to build and regain their previous status.

The Patriots’ returning players realize their success wasn’t that long ago, and a return isn’t far away.

“There are a lot of these guys who have played together and know each other for a while,” said Phillipes. “I see us continuing and growing. I believe we can gain some more wins to finish out the season.

“The underclassmen will keep the team competitive for years to come.”