Led by Eric Smith, James Pozycki and Kevin Kline, Central Catholic finished sixth out of 16 teams in scoring last season on its way to a Class AAA Section 3 title.
But the Vikings' top three scorers all graduated, leaving a void on offense.
The team has gotten a boost from forward Jesse Yeckel and defenseman Neil Carleton, both of whom missed most of last season with injuries. The Vikings also welcomed an experienced amateur player in senior Alex Houser to the team.
But the biggest offensive help this season has come from the improvement of senior Anthony Parrucci, who finished last season with 15 points.
Parrucci is the team's leading scorer, with 20 goals and 31 points, helping the Vikings (10-8-1) score two more goals this season than last year with one game remaining.
"This year, my team relies on me more than last year," Parrucci said. "It's a different role I have to play. I just know when I have the opportunity to score, I have to capitalize."
Parrucci has scored a point in all but one game he has played forward for the Vikings this season. The team is 9-5-1 when Parrucci is in the lineup and playing up front.
But Parrucci has missed a few games due to amateur team obligations, and he also played two games as a defenseman when the Vikings were missing some players.
"He was the first one to offer to play defense," Central Catholic coach Bill Connolly said. "We were playing those games with only one or two defensemen, so he stepped up and played for us. It just shows the type of team player he is."
It also shows how well-rounded his game has become. In addition to being the team's top scorer, he also is one of the first players on the ice when the Vikings are trying to kill penalties.
"As he's matured and grown up, he's become a five-tool guy," Connolly said.
The Vikings finish their regular season tonight against Erie Cathedral Prep before starting the PIHL Class AAA Penguins Cup next week.
Tigers top scorer returns
North Allegheny (15-3-1) scored 12 goals in a win against McDowell Tuesday night, and none were by Joe Griffin.
But the fact that Griffin was back on the ice was a good sign for the Tigers.
A senior forward, he hasn't played since Jan. 29 because of what North Allegheny coach Jim Black called an upper-body injury.
Black said at the time of the injury he expected Griffin back before the playoffs, and that has turned out to be the case.
"It definitely helps," Black said. "It gives him a couple of games to get some playing time before our first playoff game."
Despite missing almost a month, Griffin leads the Tigers with 19 goals.
Montour notches first win
In a battle of winless teams, Montour was able to get its first victory Monday in a 9-2 win against Franklin Regional.
"I don't know if it was our best game, but it was the one we were most prepared for," Montour coach Dustin Kerr said. "Not having a win, we knew this game was coming and we were ready. We really wanted to get a win for our seniors."
Montour (1-17) has just two seniors, Brian Luebbe and Brian Gerstel. Both had their best games of the season Monday. Luebbe had four goals and Gerstel added two goals and two assists.
With the majority of the team returning next season, Kerr is hoping Monday's win will act as a springboard to better things next season.
"That was the main talking point after the game," Kerr said. "We're definitely starting something here. It's been under way all season, but now the kids are finally gaining some confidence."
Kessy reaches milestones
When Pine-Richland senior Dillon Kessy scored with 2:22 remaining in the third period of the Rams' game against North Hills Monday, it not only punctuated a four-goal game and 7-1 win, it helped Kessy pass two different milestones.
The goal was Kessy's 50th goal and his 100th point in his PIHL regular-season career.
The current season has been Kessy's best to date. He is currently third in Class AA in points with 57 (29 goals, 28 assists). His previous career-high was 34 points last season.