Hockey team falls short of playoffs
Northampton’s quest for a playoff spot is over.
The Konkrete Kids were seeking to avoid missing the postseason for the second consecutive season in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic League (LVSHL), but they needed to overcome a huge deficit to get there.
The Kids began the season with an 0-3-3 mark and they didn’t pick up their first win until they recorded a 7-1 win over Easton Nov. 23. It was the first of a much-needed three-game winning streak that put them in the playoff hunt.
From there, the Kids split their next four games, even though they needed a better outcome during the stretch. But their hopes were dashed with an 11-3 loss to then undefeated Parkland Monday night.
The Kids now have a 6-6-3 record and are two points behind Phillipsburg for the final playoff spot. They have one game remaining with Parkland Feb. 22.
It was a letdown season for the Kids.
“We played a pretty tough game against Parkland and it was a much better game than the score indicated,” said head coach Brian Ruff. “Our biggest disappointment is we won’t make playoffs for the second straight year. We really thought we would be able to run this team to the playoffs. We might not have won a championship, but anything can happen if you get in that situation.
“Our other disappointment is that we didn’t get the best out of our players in the first half of the season. We will need to look at how we went about preparing for this season and what we need to do differently next season.”
Still, there were some pluses on the season. The Kids had four players in double-figure scoring with Nick Gutekunst with 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points; Chris Croll, 15 goals, 18 assists, 33 points; Andrew Hozza, 11 goals, 14 assists, 25 points; and Anthony Belsky, 14 goals, 8 assists, 22 points. Northampton had a young nucleus and should have many players back in the fold for next season.
“On the positive side, the second half of the season was an improvement as far as morale, attitude, chemistry, hustle, and most importantly, hard work,” added Ruff. “That makes us feel upbeat about next season.
“We have been using seven JV players all season getting some semi-regular playing time. This bodes well for next year’s team. The experience these guys are getting will make us a much better team next year.