Northampton Press

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Press photo by Nancy ScholzThe Kids Braden Pychinka looks to poke check the puck away from a Parkland player during the finals. Press photo by Nancy ScholzThe Kids Braden Pychinka looks to poke check the puck away from a Parkland player during the finals.

NHS hockey team a game short of title

Thursday, March 14, 2019 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Whatever the final reason may be, Northampton peaked at the right time.

The Konkrete Kids has a postseason flurry that saw them beat undefeated Freedom in the opening round before they lost to nine-time defending champion Parkland in three games in the finals of the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) playoffs.

Initially, it wasn’t that promising.

The Kids lost a pair of games against Parkland and logged a tie against Allentown Central Catholic that helped dropped them into fourth place. They did rally with wins against Southern Lehigh and Easton before they met top-seeded Freedom in the opening of the playoffs.

Northampton shocked Freedom 7-4, ending a dominate Patriots’ run throughout the season. Kids’ head coach Brian Ruff was optimistic his club could reach the finals.

“It’s hard to say if this was a late-season run,” said Ruff. “We had struggled at times and our goals was to make the playoffs. We took what we knew as coaches and pass it to the kids. They took off with it.

“In the locker room before the Freedom game, we told them how they have played well, but their players weren’t any better than ours. We tried to convince out kids that they were just as good or better as Freedom’s kids.

“I guess it sunk in.”

Northampton dropped the opening game to Parkland, 3-2, before they bounced back with a convincing 7-4 win. The Kids dropped the final game, 6-1.

“We lost the first game, but I thought we outplayed them,” added Ruff. “In the second game, we executed our game plan beautifully.

“We just fell flat in the third game. Parkland is Parkland. We know they are a good team, and they know they are a good team. But it was a real plus for us to knock off a powerhouse like Freedom.”

Ruff believed his club reached its level and beyond.

“We knew what we had and it was a decent team,” he said. “We got everything we expected, and the lids played hard. They did play to expectations and even more.”

The Kids will lose two defensemen and four forwards. Leading scorers Aidan Carey (17-14-31) is leading the program to attend a boarding school, and Andrew Hozza (15-9-24) will be lost to graduation.

Alyssa Wruble (7-16-23) may also leaving the program.

Sophomore Noah Smargiassi (10-7-3, 4.00) will be back as one of the anchors next season.

“We knew (Smargiassi) would be a good goalie,” said Ruff. “He carried us through the Freedom game and played well against Parkland. He really grew throughout the year.”

Ruff believed his club reached its level and beyond.

“We knew what we had and it was a decent team,” he said. “We got everything we expected, and the kids played hard. They did play to expectations and even more.”

“We do have some players back and we’ll be looking forward to another good year.”