The Cathedral Prep Hockey team has a chip on their shoulder. Last year they lost in the first round to powerhouse Peters Township. This year, they’re gearing up for a deep playoff run. After graduating 11 seniors last year and losing their first line of Jake Kruszewski, Hayden Cox, and Jordan Adams, defensemen Evan Sala, Griffin Gerlach, Mike Orlando, and Samuel Gaspar, and one of the PIHL’s top goaltenders Seth Faulkner, it makes you wonder who will step up this year for the team?
This year Prep has 10 seniors who are willing to step up to the challenge. Led by forwards Austin Faulkner, Dominic Peterson, Joe Agresti, Matthew Loza, Ryan McKinsey, and Nick Seapker, defensemen Jonathan Zambroski, Connor Ginn, and Andrew Burton, and goaltender Cole Wisniewski. The Ramblers added some key additions like Matthew Loza, Brayden Sprickman, Keegan Szewczyk, and Will McBrier. Returning players from last year like Josh Martin, Quinn Miller, Avery Ball, Gabe Glunt, Connor Eubank, and goaltender Devon Dovichow will have bigger roles this year and are ready for their opportunity.
The Ramblers are also adding some freshmen like Braydan McGarry, Bryce Peterson, and goaltender Tanner Ball. Joseph Agresti received the captain vote as Nick Seapker and Jonathan Zambroski both received assistant captain designations. The Ramblers have all four coaches back from last year, head coach Alex Luddy, and assistant coaches Chris Wassel, Bob Kowallis, and Greg Cox.
The team is returning off of a 30-14-3 overall record and is ranked 15th in Pennsylvania. They won a National Showcase in Jamestown and won the Meadville Tournament. They finished 6th in the PIHL with a 12-6-2 record.
“I want my guys to constantly work hard and I expect them to show up to the rink and give 110 percent,” said head coach Alex Luddy. This year especially because of COVID-19, the season could be over before they know it, so they have to play every game and practice like it’s their last.
There are two words you would hear a lot from Coach Luddy, “accountability” and “relentless.” Every time you step on the ice you’re working hard and that is what’s expected. When mistakes happen, they hold themselves accountable for their actions and regroup. “In hockey, it’s so quick the play is over before you know it,” he said, “It’s done so forget it and focus on making the next shift better.”
The Ramblers play a very fast-paced, skilled, and aggressive style of hockey. These boys have speed and a lot of it. They use that to their advantage because one wrong move and they’re around you going to the net and you’re definitely not catching up if one of the forwards gets a step on you. The defense has size and is very aggressive. They use their big frames and long reaches to take the puck from the other team, get it up the ice to the forwards, and the forwards fly down the ice. The Ramblers also have two very solid goaltenders that are fighting for the starting job. Right now, everyone’s mentality is “Forecheck, backcheck, paycheck,” said Dominic Peterson.
The Ramblers are looking to keep the past in the past after these early struggles. It’s a long season as long as COVID doesn’t shut down the season again. They’ve lost their first two PIHL games and had their ups and downs. On the positive side they have one of the top penalty kills around 92 percent and are in the middle with the Power play coming in at 17 percent.
Chris Wassel, who influences the special teams mostly, has some positive building blocks there. It’s a long season and once they figure out their problems and come together as a team, they have a great shot at the postseason.