Scoring enough goals hasn’t been a problem for Canon-McMillan hockey coach Yuri Krivokhija.
Preventing them, however, has been a different story.
And it’s something the Big Macs would like to fix sooner rather than later.
“I don’t care if we win 1-0 or 7-0, but to get a quality defensive game, things have to be different,” Krivokhija said. “The kids have to learn how to play defense.
“Offensively, I don’t have any problems. I have so many powers.”
Canon-McMillan, which played Mt. Lebanon last night, had four players in the top 10 of Class AAA in scoring: Carmen Dalesandro, Anthony Tonkovich, James Oddi and Blair Oldaker.
Dalesandro was second to Norwin’s Daniel Merz entering last night’s game, with 14 goals and 26 points. Tonkovich was fifth with nine and 20, while Oddi and Oldaker were ninth and 10th with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Krivokhija said all four are versatile, so much so that they’ll often shift from wing to center to defense and back again.
“It doesn’t matter if those guys play together or separate, they know what to do,” Krivokhija said.
Canon-McMillan was 6-1-2 through its first nine games, though the Big Macs had allowed 22 goals, an average of 2.44 per game. The total is actually third-best among Class AAA teams with a winning record, though much higher than Krivokhija would like.
Tonkavich plays mostly as an offensive defenseman, while Garrett Woznichak, Emanuel Bernardi and Shane Lisowski are all stay-at-home type players. Toss Luke Lavella, Zach Mansmann and Colman Slain into the group that Krivokhija hopes to develop.
“I have to teach the kids to play a little bit more responsibly on defense,” Krivokhija said. “My defense is not comfortable right now.”
Canon-Mac owns quality wins this season over Norwin – an 8-5 shootout that further proves the coach’s point – and North Allegheny, as well as ties against Seneca Valley and Upper St. Clair.
That’s been enough to keep the Big Macs six points ahead of Peters Township in Section 1, with a pivotal game at Southpointe Monday night against the Indians (4-3).
Peters Township got two goals and four points from Trevor Recktenwald during a 6-4 win over North Allegheny Tuesday and has won two straight after a 4-2 win over State College a week prior.
“The last couple of games have been real positive,” Indians coach Rick Tingle said.
Peters Township is a young team, with three freshmen, nine sophomores, six juniors and four seniors making up its 22-player roster.
“The vast majority of our team doesn’t have their (driver’s) licenses at this point,” Tingle said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Some of the top scorers this season have been Recktenwald (nine goals, 22 points), as well as Alex Debolt (five and 19) and Adam Alavi (nine and 16). Goalie Brian Baker is one of the PIHL’s best and boasts a 2.55 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage in seven games, four of them wins.
“He’s taken on more of a leadership role this year,” Tingle said of Baker. “He’s looking to become a little more vocal. He’s not a real vocal guy, but he’s taken on more of that role.”
South Fayette has struggled to a 1-5-1 start, but Ryan Schultz and Joe Testa have put up impressive stats. Schultz was sixth in Class A before last night’s games with 13 goals and 23 points. Testa was tied for 10th with 17 points.
Notes: Shane Morgan leads Canon-Mac’s Open Class entry with 14 points. … The Canon-McMillan/Peters Township game Monday starts at 8:40 p.m. … The Big Macs have scored 63 goals this season. Outside of Central Catholic (53) and Norwin (50), nobody else in Class AAA has more than 37.