There were signs last year that the Central York ice hockey team could be a force to be reckoned with this season in the Central Penn Interscholastic Hockey League.
Signs, however, only tell so much.
With a new head coach and a squad made up almost entirely of players from the Central York School District, the Panthers have certainly lived up to, if not exceeded, expectations.
Just seven games into this campaign, Central is leading the Rothrock Division (formerly Tier 3) standings with an unblemished 7-0-0 record after defeating Susquehannock, 12-3, Monday, Dec. 4, at the York City Ice Arena.
“Overall, I think coming into the season that we knew we had a pretty strong team,” Panther coach William Nagy said. “We have quite a few returners, but goaltending was going to be one of our issues. We didn’t even know if we’d have a goalie this year.”
Fortunately for Nagy and his squad, the coach was able to find Carter Crebs, a Northeastern sophomore, to man the pipes. As the lone goaltender on the Central squad, Crebs has no competition for playing time.
Nagy, however, doesn’t believe there would be an issue even if he is able to find a backup before the end of the month.
“He’s playing really well,” Nagy said. “And we’re asking a lot since he’s the only goalie on the team.”
While Crebs, who had nine saves Monday, has done a fine job in stopping pucks, the Central offense has been equally adept in scoring them. Jiri (Jacob) Nagy, the coach’s son, leads the squad in goals (17) and points (26).
Nagy, who is one of seven seniors on the club, spearheaded an impressive onslaught in the second period Monday. Nagy’s second tally of the game came during a three-goal burst over 90 seconds that saw a 5-3 advantage extended to 8-3. The most impressive part of that was that all three goals — two of which came off the stick of Jordan Kline — were scored short-handed.
Nagy finished Monday's game with four goals and an assist.
Nagy, however, is far from the only offensive weapon that Central has this year. Kline (15), Wes Copenheaver (15) and Thomas Knapp (14) all have reached double-figures in points to lead a balanced cast that leads the division in scoring at nine goals per game. Kline had two goals and two assists on Monday.
“We have a pretty experienced group of kids,” coach Nagy said. “A lot of them have been playing together for years at the junior and senior travel level and at the high school level. It’s a pretty interesting group. They have a lot of talent and they play hard.”
Tough games loom: While the Panthers are atop the division standings after Monday’s victory, Nagy and his crew hope to still be there a week from now. After a battle against winless Dallastown Wednesday, Dec. 6, Central will face second-place Cedar Crest (6-0-1) Friday, Dec. 8, in Lebanon before hosting the third-place Shamrocks (5-1-1) Monday, Dec. 11.
“Friday will be a good game,” Nagy said. “Their goaltender (Nicholas Kreiser) plays on the same travel team (Devils 18-AA) as my son and he’s pretty strong.”
Central handed the Shamrocks their only loss in the season opener last month. That game featured a lot of scoring, with the Panthers claiming a 10-8 triumph.
“Yeah, that was a score fest,” Nagy said with a laugh. “But I’m pretty sure that neither team is going to get to double-digits next time. It was a real shootout then.”
Penn Manor 6, Dallastown 0: At Lancaster Ice Rink, for the second consecutive night, Penn Manor handed a York County team a lopsided defeat, this time defeating Dallastown, 6-0, in Rothrock Division play.
Dallastown was out-shot, 39-4, with goalie Dylan O’Neil making 33 saves for the visitors.
The loss dropped Dallastown to 0-6-1 on the year, while Penn Manor is now up to 3-4 on the season after two wins in two days. Penn Manor beat Susquehannock on Sunday, 9-2.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.