Parkland has something to prove in LVSHL playoffs
For nearly the past decade, no one other than Parkland has won the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League. The Trojans are winners of nine straight league championships and 12 in its program history.
But the 2018-19 season has a bit of a different feel for the Trojans (13-2-1). While both of Parkland’s losses have come against unbeaten Freedom, Monday’s regular season finale win over Phillipsburg cemented the No. 2 seed for the Trojans heading into the playoffs.
Parkland believes it has something to prove to the rest of the league. And mainly to unbeaten Freedom.
“We lost a lot of key seniors last year, so we have a lot of ground to make up,” senior Koby Staivecki said following Parkland’s 8-3 victory at Lehigh Valley Ice Arena. “In the beginning of the season everyone thought that we were nothing. Everyone thought that they were equal with us. But we came out and had what, two losses this whole year.”
Monday’s win was Parkland’s fourth straight, and the Trojans haven’t lost since mid-December—a 5-1 setback against Freedom.
But the nine-time returning champions might be clicking at the perfect time. After a quick goal from Phillipsburg’s Antonio Vidal just 12 seconds into action, the Trojans were able to regain momentum.
Jason Kratch tied the game at 1-1 with a goal nearly five minutes later, and then, Staivecki punched in the first of his two goals with 8:47 to play in the opening period. Staivecki and Alex Doe set up Gus Schwartz in the final minutes of the period for a 3-1 advantage, a lead that wouldn’t be threatened the rest of the way.
“It’s a big game here because we are going to play them in the first round of playoffs,” Staivecki said. “It was nice to make a statement though, because they’re not going to want to come back after that game.”
Phillipsburg would score two of the three goals in the second period to get within 4-3. But Staivecki and the Trojans came out in the third period looking to make a statement.
Staivecki first set up Dratch for his second goal to give the Trojans some breathing room at 5-3 just 2:33 into the period. Staivecki added another goal himself not even two minutes later, and then set up a Schwartz goal that all but ended any chance Phillipsburg was holding onto.
“Anything to just step on their throats and get them out of the game,” Staivecki said. “We wanted to take their will out of that third period.”
Eric Dennis added another goal for the Trojans in the final two minutes to close out the scoring.
Parkland will face Phillipsburg in the opening round of the playoffs. And assuming things pan out how most expect, the Trojans will get another shot at unbeaten Freedom in championship series for what would be their 10th consecutive league championship.
Staivecki and the Trojans understand they’ll have to clean up their play when that time comes around.
“It’s going to take a lot of discipline,” Staivecki said. “We have to play our system. You can’t get caught out of position, and you can’t make mistakes against them. If you make mistakes, they are going to punish you. We saw it in the first two games. We make mistakes and it ends up in the back of our net.”