After Long Wait The SHSHL Season is at Hand

   The road to where the Suburban High School Hockey League is now, the threshold of the start of its 48thseason, was long, arduous, and at times seemingly filled with insurmountable obstacles. But, thanks to the efforts of league officials, coaches, and rink staffs, the league will kick off its 48thseason Wednesday night.

Barring any interruptions, each of the nine teams in the Class AA division will play a 12-game schedule, facing four opponents once and the other four twice. In the latter scenario, the first meeting between the two teams will be a non-league game, the second meeting will be the game that will count in the league standings.

The seven teams in the American Division will play each other twice each; all the games will count in the league standings.

North Penn coach Kevin Vaitis admits it will take time for the players to get their skates under them again.

“It’s definitely going to take a while,” he said. “we’ve had two practices (last week), we had another practice this past Monday so we’ll have three practices under our belt before our first game on Thursday.

“All the other teams are kind of in the same situation, it’s not like it’s a North Penn-only type thing.”
Vaitis says the compressed schedule will bring with it a sense of urgency. “It’s a 12-game season,” he said, “so we’ve got to really focus in on the things we need to do on the ice.

“We’ve had a lot of chalk talk off ice to clean up things that we need to.

“We’re going to have limited practice time this year. The second week of January is our first game and by the third week of March the (regular season) is over. “We’re looking at six or seven practices, that’s it.”

Senior defenseman Ryan Cunningham is North Penn’s captain this season. A four-year varsity players, Cunningham embraces the responsibility of encouraging his younger teammates.

“It puts me in a good position of being able to help the younger players feel comfortable and advance with their games,” he said.

Until the Knights resumed practices after the holidays, Cunningham had been off the ice for over a month. But he maintained his focus on hockey, doing off-ice workouts and taking in the recently completed World Junior championships.

He’s looking forward to stepping on the ice Thursday night when the Knights open their season against Souderton.

“It’s definitely going to be awesome,” he said. “The main thing is to go out and skate as a team,” he said. “It will definitely be exciting to be back on the ice.”

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