The Evening was About Much More than the Result
HATFIELD—The outcome of Wednesday’s Suburban High School Hockey League American Division game between Truman and Wissahickon was never in doubt. The Trojans scored eight goals in the first period and went on to a 14-4 win at Hatfield Ice in a game that was halted with 6:09 left in the third period via the 10-goal mercy rule.
There was a much deeper meaning to the evening however than the final result. What mattered most is that the young men wearing the Truman colors of old gold and back were getting the opportunity to play hockey and to do so representing their school.
The Tigers are winless in 12 starts this season. But their passion for the game of hockey remains, harkening back to a time when today’s players’ parents may not have been born, a time when players seized every opportunity they could to satisfy their craving for the sport.
The Truman roster includes 12 players and a goaltender, six of whom have experience playing travel hockey. Only one of the 13 rostered players is a senior.
On Wednesday night goaltender Connor Pilla was on hand, supported by just eight skaters. But the Tigers battled on, as they have all season.
Truman is coached by Bill Keyser, who takes a back seat to no one when it comes to having a passion for hockey. Now, he concentrates on helping his players nurture their own passion for the sport and is proud of fact that his players have bonded despite being overmatched on most nights.
“They all come together,” he said. “They like each other. They come out and they play for me and I’m not going to be a coach that’s going to be on them. I want to make sure they come and have fun, and I try to make it fun for them every game, Even though we lose, I try to make it their team.”
To that end, Keyser allows his team considerable input into the decision-making process. ‘I think by allowing them to feel like it’s their team they have more responsibility,” he said. “They want to become something.”
Pilla is in a unique situation. A freshman, he played B Division middle school hockey last year. Now he is facing shots from players who may be three or four years older than himself; on Wednesday he faced 45 of them in just under 42 minutes of playing time.
Had Pilla not accepted the challenge of stepping into the varsity nets Truman would not have been eligible to compete in the SHSHL this season. League rules require purity, i.e. that all players attend the school they represent. In fact, Keyser readily admits that without Pilla the Tigers would not be able to field a team at all.
“We’re putting him in an environment that really, he shouldn’t be in,” Keyser said. “But he’s able to take the challenge he steps himself up, an d gave us a chance to put a team in and still be a varsity team. Without him, we wouldn’t have been able to make this possible.”
Ice Chips—Bryan Gary scored eight goals and added five assists for the Trojans, who improved to 8-6 overall and 6-4 in divisional play … Wissahickon goaltender Chris Shea, a junior, is a lacrosse goalkeeper who was persuaded to give hockey a try. Without him, the Trojans likely would also have had difficulty fielding a pure team this season.
Truman 3 1 0—4
Wissahickon 8 3 3—14
First-period goals: Bryan Gary unassisted, :13; Gary from Will Hussa,1:04; Nicholas Hussa from Gary, 2:51; Jeremy McCartney (T) unassisted, 3:00; Gary unassisted, 3:38; Samuel Junker from Gary, 8:01 (pp); Aidan Kinniry (T) from Robert DiCrosta and McCartney, 8:58; Gary unassisted, 9:31; Gary unassisted, 12:37; McCartney (T) unassisted, 13:49; N. Hussa from Gary, 14:00 (sh).
Second-period goals: N. Hussa unassisted, 7:47; Gary from N. Hussa, 10:34; N. Hussa W) from Gary, 11:50 (sh); James Gallagher (T) unassisted, 13:54.
Third-period goals: N. Hussa from Gary, 4:08; Gallagher (T) from McCartney, 5:47; Gary unassisted, 6:07; N. Hussa from Alex Carrozza, 4:48; Gary from N. Hussa, 8:51.
Game Called at 8:51 of the third period.
Shots; Truman 28, Wissahickon 45; Saves: Connor Pilla (T) 31, Chris Shea 24