WEST GOSHEN — A shortened bench wasn’t going to stop the West Chester East boys hockey team from winning its first game of the season.
In fact, East’s leaders stepped up in a big way in a 5-2 win over St. Joseph’s Prep Friday night at Ice Line.
“We had to have it,” said East coach Eric Wolf. “You have a first-year East player in Dylan McLaughlin come out and complement Chris (Rodier) and Eddie (Russell) really well. That was nice to see. They kind of make the space and he just fills in the holes.”
The top line of Rodier, Russell and McLaughlin may have lit up the scoreboard for East, but the win may not have happened if not for a freshman who stole the spotlight in the game – goaltender Joseph Galitski.
“He was tremendous,” Wolf said. “We were outshot, but won the game 5-2. He’s a freshman goaltender and he played awesome tonight. We don’t win without him.”
The opening-night win with four top players out of the lineup was what the new coach wanted from his team, even against a non-conference team such as St. Joseph’s Prep.
Although, that isn’t to say the Hawks didn’t have some injuries of their own to deal with.
“Yes, we were missing players, but so were they,” Wolf said. “They were missing two players that I know of that are difference makers. To only give up two goals, I am happy, but I am taking it for a grain of salt. I thought they were going to be a little tougher than they were in terms of physical play. We still have a lot of work to do.”
To make up for the shortened bench, many players were rolled out more than usual and some, such as Rodier, were double-shifted throughout the game.
Due to the injuries, Wolf had to also bring up a freshman JV player.
“I didn’t have much of a choice,” he said. “We had a player up tonight that if you told me he would have been dressed in the first varsity game, I would have told you you were out of your mind. We needed bodies. He came out and only got a couple of shifts, but he helped us give Rodier a breather because basically it was just the centers changing for each other and at times three sets of wings.”
East does have a glimmer of hope for next week as one of its injured defensemen is expected to return.
It may just be one of the four who are out, but as Wolf sees it, every little bit will always help.
“It’s important because he’s a ‘D,’” he said. “We were running four ‘D’ and that can come and bite you, too, if you have a good, skilled team and they’re rolling on you and your ‘D’ are just changing for each other the whole time. You’ll eventually run out of gas. If we can at least get five back there, at least somebody is getting a breather the whole time.”
Though some of the players on East know Wolf from time on other club teams and the rest have gotten to know their new coach over the summer, they are all still going through a learning process as the season gets underway.
“We’re still getting to know each other as a group in terms of what I expect and what they go out and do on the ice,” Wolf said. “Right now, that’s not there yet and that’s going to take a while. In this league, if you’re not taking care of your own end first, you’re going to have problems. I don’t know if we realize that yet.”