While Central Bucks West may not be among the top teams in the Suburban One Continental League, the Bucks (8-6, 6-3: SOL) are looking to pick up where they left off in last year’s Suburban High School Hockey League (SHSHL) quarterfinals when they pulled off an upset of Council Rock South.
Last year, the Bucks shot down the Hawks 3-2 in sudden death overtime. Jake Lang scored the golden goal 1:36 into the extra session.
Goalkeeper Jeremy Kennard was the star of the game, turning away 49 of 51 shots. Kennard entered the contest with an .875 save percentage, stopping 307 of 351 shots.
Kennard is back to lead CB West into the postseason as, perhaps, one of the hottest teams heading down the stretch. The Bucks have won six of their last seven games including a victory over CB East and, more recently, topping Souderton. Against the Patriots, Kennard stopped 30 of 31 shots.
“As you look at the arc of the season, we’re still rising,” said CB West head coach Dave Baun. “We haven’t peaked yet.”
In a 5-2 win over the Indians, the Bucks were led by Lang, a junior who tallied a pair of strikes against the Rams. They also received goals by classmate Chris Trefz, senior Owen Shields and sophomore Pavel Serhiayenka.
With seven seniors and seven newcomers including four freshmen and three sophomores who were not with the team last year, West has an even mix of experience this season.
With graduation, the Bucks lost three key defenders including captain Luke McCleerey, Matt Clarke and Evan “Cruise Ship” Johnson. West has three freshmen starting this year on “D’ including Grant Funseth, Evan Hee and Reese Dalzell.
“That’s a first for us,” said Baun. “In my 16 years (as coach), we’ve never had three freshmen starting.
“In fact, we’ve rarely had freshmen playing much at all.”
Funseth is playing first line defense with senior Matt McCarthy. Hee is shoring up the second line “D” with senior Kyle Burton.
“We figured it might be a rebuilding year with so many new players,” added Baun.
“You usually can’t get away with bringing in four freshmen and three sophomores who never played before and stay competitive.
“But our team is really starting to come together, especially on defense.
“When it comes to defense, we have a team-oriented approach. It takes (players) a while to learn it and be able to do it together. Sometimes, the season is just not long enough for them to master.
“About halfway through the season, they started to get it.
“Now, the last four or five games, you see it’s really starting to show.”
A week before the win over Souderton, the Bucks toppled CB East, 4-1.
Junior Dan Poliak scored once in the first period and again on a power play four minutes into the second stanza to put West up 2-0.
Sophomore Keith Orlando put the Bucks up 3-0 heading into the final frame and Lang wrapped up the scoring for West.
While Serhiayenka is an offensive co-leader on the team in goal-scoring with 14, Trefz has a whopping 25 assists, which places him second in the SHSHL in helpers.
“We stress puck movement so when you’ve got a kid with 25 assists, that shows he really passes the puck well,” said Baun.
Trefz centers the Bucks’ first line with Lang and Serhiayenka. Lang also has 14 goals together with nine assists and Serhiayenka has 14 goals and seven helpers.
Shields centers West’s second line with seniors Christian Young and Joey DeYoung. Freshman Ryan Haywood centers the third line with Orlando and sophomore Ben Morris.
“We judge our offensive success by the balance of our scoring,” Baun said.
“We want our line to be matched closely with the same number of points and goals.
“You don’t want one kid scoring all your points or all of your goals.
“You want everybody contributing.”
The Bucks’ recent win streak includes victories over Truman, by a 10-6 score, CR South (4-2), Abington (10-3) and William Tennent. Serhiayenka tallied twice in the first period and Lang recorded a hat trick, helping West to an 8-2 triumph over the Panthers.
Trefz, Shields and Dalzell also scored and senior Nick Ritz stopped 13 of 15 shots to get the win in the net.
Baun says the win over CR South was, perhaps, the most significant.
Tied at 2-2 after two periods, Young and Trefz tallied a goal apiece to put the Bucks past the Golden Hawks.
CR South is a player in the SHSHL and beyond. The Hawks won Flyers Cup titles in 2011 and 2012 and went to the Flyers Cup semifinals a year ago.
“They’re not as strong as they’ve been in years past but they still have a lot of good players and they play a solid game,” said Baun.
“Anytime we can beat (CR) South, it’s a good win.”
Baun is hoping his team has caught lightning in a bottle at the right time this year.
“Our goalies have been fantastic, the defense has been solid and our forwards have come together,” said Baun. “We’re scoring some goals.”
CB West has two games remaining in the regular season – Neshaminy on Feb. 14 and North Penn Feb. 20. While they eventually lost 5-3, the Bucks went toe to toe with the first-place Knights the last time the sides squared off with West taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on shorthanded goals by Trefz and Serhiayenka.
The Knights went ahead 3-2 with two goals in the second period and another 23 seconds into the final frame. West deadlocked the score on a strike by Lang but North Penn scored the last two.
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