PITTSTON — After an uncharacteristically so-so season, Paupack appears primed and ready for a return to elite status on the local scholastic ice hockey scene.
This past weekend, the Bucks opened up their 2012-'13 Northeast PA Schoolboy Hockey League schedule with a wild 5-4 win over perennial powerhouse Susquehanna Valley.
"It was definitely a good win and a good way to start the season," veteran Coach Lance Landolfi said.
"The league should be pretty balanced this year. A lot of teams lost really good players to graduation, so things should be wide open."
Paupack will be very busy over the long holiday weekend. The Bucks are scheduled to play two JV and two varsity games on both Friday and Saturday.
JV contests are slated for Pittston, while the varsity matches will be played at Coal Street.
Ready to Roll
Paupack struggled out of the gate last year, but gained momentum as the season progressed.
The Bucks battled their way into the playoffs, but then were eliminated by the same Susquehanna Valley squad. So, this weekend's win brought with it a measure of sweet revenge.
Dalton Winot ignited the Paupack offensive attack with a monster effort. A senior forward who hails from Pocono Mountain East, Winot erupted for three goals and an assist against the Stampede.
Matt West also lit the lamp for Paupack. A talented 8th grader who attends Mid Valley, West provided what ultimately proved to be the gamewinner.
Jonathan Rutledge of Honesdale chipped in with a key goal as well.
Ean Hibian and Isaac Syre anchored the Bucks' defense in the face of a withering Susquehanna Valley assault.
Page 2 of 3 - Hibian is a battle-tested senior defenseman and longtime member of the Paupack program.
"Ean is a very good, very versatile hockey player," Coach Landolfi said.
Syre is still just a sophomore, but already has several years of high level hockey under his belt.
"Isaac is one of the most solid goalies in the league," Coach Landolfi said. "He's done a great job for us the last couple years."
Paupack outshot Susquehanna Valley in Week One by a margin of 35-26. Syre racked up 24 saves over the course of three periods.
All told, there are six seniors on the roster to whom Coach Landolfi will look for leadership this winter.
In addition to Hibian and Winot, Paupack welcomes back Devin Landolfi (Def), Bryan Becker (Center), Jon Rutledge (Fwd) and Jeff Alderfer (Def).
While all of these players are talented, Coach Landolfi went out of his way to praise Alderfer. A senior at Paupack, Jeff is widely regarded as one of the best players at any position in the entire NEPASHL.
"We won't have him full time until the end of the season, but Jeff is an extremely gifted young man," he said.
Paupack's lone junior this year is Tristan Hefty. A versatile player who splits time among a variety of positions, Hefty hails from Newfoundland.
"Tristan has been a nice addition to the team," Coach Landolfi said. "He does well just about anywhere I put him out there."
One of the team's newest additions is Jeff Zero. A junior high student/athlete from North Pocono, Zero will hold down the JV goalie position and spell Syre whenever the need arises.
"That gives me a lot of flexibility," Coach Landolfi said. "Both of them are flex players, so it opens up a lot of possibilities. Isaac and Jeff and an very good 1-2 combination."
Page 3 of 3 - Score by Periods...
PAU (1-0) 2 1 2 – 5
SUS (0-1) 1 2 1 – 4