Northampton Press

Friday, October 19, 2018

Hockey team achieves goal of making playoffs

Friday, March 24, 2017 by jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

For the Northampton hockey team, it was a matter of getting to the postseason. In the end, however, the Konkrete Kids reached a high goal.

The Kids not only qualified for the postseason, but they also advanced to the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) championship round.

Unfortunately, the Kids dropped the first two games to defending champion Parkland in a best-of-three series.

Northampton lost 5-4 in the opening game and then 6-3 in the second game.

Still, it was a victory despite the defeat.

“Our goal was to get to the postseason,” said head coach Brian Ruff. “We fought hard and played the best we could. We just came up short.

“We had them on the ropes in the first game, and we gave it everything we had in the second game.”

Ruff noted how his team rallied for a third-place finish (9-7-1, 19 points) and then beat second-seeded Central/Becahi in the opening one-game elimination playoff.

“A lot of people didn’t think we would make the playoffs, let alone finish third,” added Ruff. “I think we surprised a lot of people.”

Ruff believed his club could recognize and reach its potential midway through the season.

“It was then that we could play with anybody and we could get to the playoffs,” said Ruff. “We had a lot of experience and talent on this team. We had some tough spots, but we still kept our confidence and pressed on.”

The Kids will need to replace several seniors, both of the front line and on defense. Senior Garett Russell was the team’s leading scorer this past winter with 27 goals and 16 assists for 43 points, followed by sophomore Andrew Hozza (15-21-36) and senior Chris Croll (9-23-32).

Junior Goalie Brian Narkavich steadily improved throughout the season and adjusted along the way.

He finished with an overall 7-7-0 mark with one shutout and a 4.31 goals against average. Tyler Hoagland (2-0-1, 4.20) also saw action for the Kids, but he may be picked up by another team next season.

“He (Narkavich) is such a quiet kid and I believe it took a while for everyone to get to know him,” said Ruff. “Halfway through the season, he really started to come into his own. We’re looking for him to become an even stronger goalie next year.”

Overall, it was a season to rekindle the program.

“We were glad to get back to the playoffs,” said Ruff. “We gained more confidence as the season went on and we had a strong finish. We’re losing quite a few players, but we should have a core back to keep us going.”