WEST GOSHEN — It may still be early in the season, but the West Chester Rustin boys ice hockey team can proudly say it doesn’t have a single blemish on its record.
After a 5-2 win over Downingtown West on Friday night at Ice Line, Rustin’s undefeated season is still intact, even if things didn’t go so well in the second period.
“They got a little undisciplined at the end, but they work hard and forecheck hard,” said Rustin coach Nick Russo. “We kind of sat back a little bit. (D-West is) a tough team to play against. We started taking a couple of shifts off, but we were able to fight back.”
After Rustin (4-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, D-West (0-1) was able to bounce back with two goals in the second from Alec Connolly and Jason Pinkerton, but Rustin’s Ian Strasinski – a freshman – answered the second goal 44 seconds later.
Rustin, which has a fair mix of all four classes in the lineup, is getting contributions from its younger players already early in the season.
“They all look to upperclassmen and they look at us as role models and feed off our energy,” said Rustin forward Eric Flynn of the freshmen and sophomores.
Though having the younger players may have a little disadvantage every now and then and could have been what led to Rustin’s bad second period.
“Some of it is a lot of freshmen who are playing now are not used to the crowds,” Russo said. “I think that’s part of it. Some of those kids have never played in front of a crowd before. You’re still juggling line and we just don’t worry about it until after Christmas.”
However, the talent level is there on the team – something Russo is very happy with.
“The way we play now…we really have two first lines,” he said. “We can punch people with two lines. Our third and fourth line are as good as a lot of teams’ second line.”
Leading the way Friday night for Rustin was Tommy Sloan and Flynn with the two combining for four points on the night.
“We’re playing well together,” Flynn said. “He set me up twice today.”
As always, backstopping the team and keeping them in it during the sloppy second was goaltender Jason Grande.
“I just don’t know what we would do – we wouldn’t have won much without him,” Russo said of his goaltender. “It’s really simple. We’re pretty lucky.”
There are still things Russo is trying to work out with his team, but overall, he’s happy with the way they have started the season, especially with the amount of players he has on the roster.
“We’re just trying to work out some kinks and figure out who I’m going to dress,” he said. “I’m sitting kids who should be playing. It’s a luxury I’ve never had. It’s all good.”