Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Norwin Maintains Its Swagger

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Norwin Maintains Its Swagger

Article excerpt

Seven weeks remain in the PIHL season and Norwin still has nine games left to play.

The Knights could lose 'em all ... and they'd still have as many victories as they had all of last season.

Norwin is an improved team, no question. But mere improvement isn't going to be enough for the Knights. They want more.

"Our goal is to keep winning games," Norwin's leading scorer and alternate captain Dan Merz said. "Take down some of the teams people say are the best in [Class AAA], get a good seed in the playoffs, play well in the playoffs, get to Consol [Energy Center] and go for a championship."

The Knights are 8-3-2 and are in the race for earning one of the top four seeds in the classification a year after going 8-11-1.

A 4-1 loss to Penn-Trafford last week didn't sap the team of the confidence and swagger it had gained via a six-game unbeaten streak it was riding heading into that game.

"With the skill level we have," Knights coach James Reith said, "I wouldn't want to lace up the skates to play against us."

Reith is in his first season as coach of the varsity team. The Knights began the season 4-1 and haven't lost consecutive games all season.

"It's working out pretty well," Merz said. "It's a little different system than we had before, and all in all, it's working. It shows in our record."

A junior, Merz entered the week fourth in the Class AAA scoring race with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 13 games. He and sophomores Tim Palmer and Dante Youhon have formed a productive top line for the Knights.

The threesome ranks 1-2-3 on the team in goals and in points. The line has combined to score 31 of Norwin's 48 goals this season.

"It's nice playing with Timmy; he's a goal-scorer, and he always knows where to be," Merz said. "Dante likes to get into the corners and grind and get the puck. He's a good, hard worker, and all around, it makes for a good line that works."

Defense, however, has been Norwin's strong point. The Knights are allowing 2.6 goals per game and has three shutouts. The team's pair of senior goalies, Scott Cromling and Ryan Boccabella, has been a large part of that success. Each is an experienced, proven goalie. …

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