Kids still fighting for a playoff berth
As they began this week, Northampton's hockey team found itself in sixth place in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) standings.
And with the regular season ending in two weeks, the Konkrete Kids needed to leapfrog both Diocese and Southern Lehigh to gain the final and fourth-place spot for the league playoffs, a haven that has been home for the past 14 years.
Still, the situation looked bleak as the Kids were riding a five-game losing streak.
However, head coach Brian Ruff still believed there was a chance. With their games cancelled over the previous two-week period, the Kids rallied with an impressive 7-1 victory over Freedom Monday night that quickly jockeyed them back into the convoluted playoff picture.
With the win, the Kids (7-6-1) pulled to within a point of fifth-place Southern Lehigh and two points of fourth-place Diocese. Emmaus has three games left, and Southern Lehigh and Diocese both have one game apiece left on their schedules.
Colin O'Donnell and Chris Croll tallied a pair of goals and goalie Patrick Lothian stopped 25 of 26 stops.
O'Donnell, Croll, Anthony Belsky and Gavin Carey have been among the team's leading scorers for the Kids this season.
From here, the Kids likely must win their final games against third-place Emmaus (Feb. 22) and first-place Parkland (Feb. 27) and also get help with losses from Emmaus, Diocese and Southern Lehigh in the remaining games.
"It still can be very confusing," said Ruff. "We need to win and get some help. We're not dead in the water yet. We do still have some life. Monday was a big win for us and our morale is back to where it should be.
"We had the time off and it did benefit us. We practiced well and I believe we came together as a team."
Ruff doesn't want to concede that his team will miss the postseason. They have been a staple and have won three titles, their last one being six seasons ago.
Parkland has won the last five league crowns and eight of the last 11, and it could be the Trojans who might stand in their way down the stretch.
The Trojans began the week with an unblemished 12-0-1 record and had allowed a league-low 19 goals.
"We play Parkland in our last game and that will be interesting," noted Ruff. "We have been a perennial fixture in the playoffs and have had plenty of encounters with Parkland. But we need to keep this momentum going and we'll be back."