Thursday night’s SHSHL National Division final between Council Rock South and Pennsbury brings down the season on the SHSHL’s 50th season.
High school hockey has evolved substantially over the past half century. But Kenny Haas, who has been involved with the SHSHL for over two decades as a coach, referee, referee assigner, scheduler, and now as the SHSHL’s commissioner, note that some constants remain.
“For us, it’s all about the students.” he said. “It’s about having the students be good kids in the classroom. Attend class regularly and get good grades.”
For much of its history, the SHSHL had a reputation for pugnaciousness on the ice but that mindset has faded away in recent years.
“To me the most important thing and you see it more and more every year, is the discipline I see on the ice,” Haas said.
“We can count on one hand how many major penalties we had this year and that’s just so far above what happened in the 70s and 80s, and 90s.”
While the SHSHL and USA Hockey have strengthened rules designed to prevent misbehavior in recent seasons, Haas says the bulk of the credit for the new mindset belongs to the league’s coaches.
“Our coaches are outstanding,” he said. “High school hockey is very friendly for the family. We have some of the best coaches in the Delaware Valley. Really, hats off to the coaches, it really comes down to them.
“Our coaches have been around longer than me.”