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Steelers return to the ice Saturday

The 2021 Dunkirk/Fredonia Steelers hockey team is ready to finally start its season.

It has been an extra-long wait this year with New York state shutting down winter higher-risk sports, including hockey, until recently.

The wait will all come to an end with the Steelers playing their season opener Saturday against St. Joe’s White at 7:30 p.m. at Northtown Center.

After back-to-back building seasons, the Steelers are looking to return to Super Sunday with the ultimate goal of a Western New York High School Club Hockey Championship.

Coach Mark Taylor is back behind the bench this year after a two-year junior coaching hiatus. Assistant coaches this year are Keith Mages, Jim Rush, Steve Olson, David Bird and Mike Mead.

Taylor is excited to be back with this veteran group of players, led by four seniors, who have a combined 14 years of varsity experience.

Leading this group are senior forward co-captains Mike Norton and Dawson Bird. Bird is returning after an impressive junior season leading the team in scoring with 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points. Norton’s point total was down a little because he unselfishly played several minutes on defense last year but still totaled an impressive 15 points, including 10 goals.

“Looking forward to finally getting back to action, and the boys are more ready than ever,” Norton said with a smile when asked about the upcoming season.

Rounding out the seniors are assistant captain forward Cooper Harris, who tallied 10 points of his own last year, including seven assists, and the only senior on defense Alex Rush. Rush will be playing his fourth year on varsity.

At the forward position, juniors Alex Paluch and Tate Olson return as three-year varsity players. Paluch, who will also be wearing an ‘A’ this year, was second on the team in scoring last year with 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points and Olson scored 14 points himself with a team-high 11 assists.

Joining the forward groups are juniors Kinnen Finnegan, Kameron Mages, Caleb Gornikiewicz, Joey Yeager and sophomore Kam Sakpal. Even though the defense only has one senior with Rush, it does not lack experience. Juniors Simon Davis, Trevor Persch and Joshua Cooper are all three-year varsity players. Davis led all defensemen in scoring last year with eight points, including two goals and six assists, while Persch added two goals and four assists. Cooper added five points of his own. Rounding out the defense is sophomore Micah Davis who is back for his second season on varsity and freshman Nolan Olson playing his first year of varsity.

Finally, between the pipes, will be sophomore Tim Rasey. He is a second-year starter and is looking to build on a solid freshman season where he went 5-3-2 with a shutout.

The Steelers’ home opener will be Friday, March 5 at 7:45 p.m. against Cheektowaga. The Steelers will be playing all home games at the Northwest Arena in Jamestown due to SUNY Fredonia not having ice available this year due to COVID-19.

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