The Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers are off to a 5-2 start this season and are reaping the benefits of having a balanced scoring attack.
On Saturday, seven different players scored as the Steelers handled Niagara Catholic, 10-1, in Western New York High School Club hockey action at Steele Hall.
The line of Matt Sheridan, Dylan Munson and Alex Michalak has been a bright spot for the Steelers this year and Saturday was no different as the trio each scored two goals.
OBSERVER?Photo by Courtney Gfroerer
Above: Dunkirk-Fredonia’s Matt Sheridan skates toward the puck against a Niagara Catholic defender Saturday, during high school hockey action at the Steele Hall Ice Arena.
"This is my first year coaching Matt Sheridan," Dunkirk-Fredonia coach Jay Bishop said. "He is a smaller kid but has a wonderful nose for the net. He does whatever you ask and plays his heart out. He has been an effective goal scorer for us this year. He has really helped set up plays.
"That whole line has a great working relationship," Bishop continued. "They have worked really well together in practice and it has carried over into games."
The Steelers possess a lot of senior leadership this year with seven seniors on the roster. They are Andy Ellis, Munson, Michalak, J.J. Ludwig, Jeff Mulkin, Brett St. George and goalie Carson Rafan.
"We have had some veteran leadership," Bishop said. "The coaches are really going to rely on the seniors. Our captain is Brett St. George and we have J.J. Ludwig and Alex Michalak as alternate captains. We have asked them to step up and be leaders. That's really worked out well. Kids that age look up to their peers and I think we have some veteran leadership which has made a big difference.
"I think we are doing really well," Bishop said of the season. "We really have character on the team this year. I think the team overall is a team of character. We have great kids. They have really worked hard and bought into the coaching system we have put forth. They have really, really stepped up. We have gotten scoring from all three lines which is nice. The defense has played well. We have had strong goaltending. I am very optimistic about the season."
Rafan and junior Jared Hebner have split time in net this season.
"Goaltending has been strong," Bishop noted. "Carson is a senior goaltender and he has been playing well. We have junior Jared Hebner and he has been doing well, too. Carson has done a great job this year."
But Saturday was all about the offense.
Michalak, Ludwig, Connor Graves and Matt Szalkowski each added a goal for the winners. Szalkowski's goal came just nine seconds into the game while Sheridan and Munson each netted a goal in the final 24 seconds for the win."
Dunkirk-Fredonia demonstrated its offensive attack as the defense was constantly joining the offensive attack Saturday.
"That's exactly what we want," Bishop said. "We focus on setting the offensive triangle, pinching the defense, working on one-timers so we have offensive threats all over the place. We have had our defense really step up as far as taking an offensive role. It's been working out for us so far.
Assists were tallied by Sheridan (2), Michalak (2), Szalkowski, Kyle Leysath, Munson (4), Ludwig and Jacob Majka (2).
"We are looking forward to getting back to the playoffs and getting in a position to get a championship again," Bishop said. "It's been a great group of kids this year. I can't say enough about the group of kids and the ability to listen and do everything we ask. It's been a joy to come to practice."