Peters Township forward Trevor Recktenwald trained hard in the offseason to make his last season with the Indians his best.
It was time well spent.
A 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior, Recktenwald entered this week leading the PIHL Class AAA in points. That got the attention of the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL, who signed Recktenwald to a tender last week.
"It felt really good," Recktenwald said. "It's really exciting that someone out there wants me to try out for their junior team."
What the tender means is that his rights belong to the Tomahawks, so no other NAHL team can recruit or sign him. He would still need to try out and make the squad next season.
It is something he wants to pursue.
"I definitely want to give it a shot and hopefully play there for a year or two," Recktenwald said.
Recktenwald had two consecutive solid seasons for Peters Township in 2010-11 and 2011-12. A big forward, he scored a combined 29 goals and 35 assists the past two seasons, helping to lead the Indians to the Penguins Cup final each season.
But he's on course to eclipse those numbers this season.
Recktenwald has 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) this season with five games remaining. He has scored seven points in a game three times and has been held to fewer than three points in only four games.
"I don't think I saw this coming," Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. "I expected him to be our 'go-to guy' and take a step forward, but he has really stood out. I think he's the best player in the PIHL."
Recktenwald said he uses his size to his advantage, as defensemen are not able to move him off his spot. But what he tried to improve this offseason was his speed.
"I put in a lot of hard work at Umberger Performance, just trying to get faster," Recktenwald said. "It has really helped me a lot."
He has been paired with some other speedy skaters this season in Adam Alavi and Alex DeBolt. Alavi, a sophomore, has 20 goals and 39 points, while DeBolt, a classmate of Recktenwald, has 37 points, including 25 assists.
"We're all pretty quick on our feet," Recktenwald said.
This is the first season the three have been on a line together and it took a while for them to start clicking on all cylinders. The Indians (11-4) were shut out, 4-0, in the team's first game of the season against Upper St. Clair and were held to fewer than five goals in six of their first eight games.
But Peters Township scored at least five goals in each of its previous six games before a 4-1 victory against Seneca Valley on Tuesday. All of those games were wins. That includes an 8-6 win against defending Penguins Cup Class AAA champion Bethel Park on Jan. 4. The Black Hawks only allowed 21 goals combined in their other 11 games entering this week.
Recktenwald has been the catalyst during the seven-game win streak, scoring 10 goals and adding 18 assists. He believes the team is capable of carrying the momentum to a Penguins Cup title.
"I think we can go all the way this year," Recktenwald said. "Both the last two teams have made it to the finals and lost. It's a pretty lousy feeling.
"We want to win it this time."