South Xtra: Bethel Park's Siak impresses coach, opponents with his strong shooting

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Bethel Park coach Jim McVay has coached NHL players R.J. Umberger, Ryan Malone and Brandon Saad during his time as a high school and amateur hockey coach.

But according to McVay, none of those players, during their high school playing days in the area, could shoot the puck like the Black Hawks' Chris Siak.

"I've never seen anyone at this level who has a more incredible shot," McVay said. "R.J. Umberger's shot in high school wasn't as good as it is now. Brandon Saad's was really good, and he was just a freshman. And Saad, Umberger and Ryan Malone were younger when they were playing before they left, while Chris is a senior. But I don't think anyone's shot is better than Chris' at this level."

Siak has used his incredible shot, and his good size (5 feet 11, 195 pounds) to put the puck in the net more than any other player in the PIHL Class AAA over the past two seasons.

Siak finished third in his classification in goals scored in 2012-13, netting 36. This season, he leads the league with 22 in 13 games.

Siak credits his quick release for his goal-scoring prowess, which has been honed through much work on the ice.

"Just a lot of practice," Siak said. "At the end of practices, coach will ask if anyone wants to shoot and I'll take a bunch of pucks and shoot them."

Having a goal scorer of Siak's ability is a huge boost to Bethel Park, which always seems to be among the league leaders in goal prevention. The Black Hawks have finished in the top two in fewest goals allowed each of the past four seasons, and are currently second in the league with 28 goals allowed.

So having a player who can produce almost as many goals as the opposition at the other end is a big reason why Bethel Park (13-2) is among the favorites to win its eighth Penguins Cup title.

"I've been saying my goal is to allow fewer goals than Chris scores, and he wasn't far off it," McVay said. "It's an amazing stat."

Siak will likely not be able to get his goal total above the amount of goals Bethel Park allows, however, because he will be out for at least the next week due to injury.

The injury occurred in Bethel Park's game Jan. 14 against Seneca Valley, when Siak fell to the ice and had his arm stepped on by another player, cutting his forearm badly enough to require stitches.

After missing the next game against Central Catholic, he returned against North Allegheny, only to leave midway through the game after his stitches broke open.

"It was pretty bad," Siak said. "It didn't really hurt, but there was blood everywhere."

Bethel Park has gone 2-0 in the games Siak has missed entirely this season, but scored only five combined goals in those two victories.

Siak said Monday he planned on returning in the next 10 to 14 days, which would allow him to play in the team's last three games of the season before the playoffs begin. That's good for Bethel Park, which would have a tough time winning the Penguins Cup without not only Siak's goal scoring, but also his ability to create for his teammates (he has already tied a career-high with 12 assists).

"He's more of a team player," McVay said. "He doesn't have a ton of assists, but he's become a very good passer. Everyone always thinks he's going to shoot, so he gets so much attention that when he passes, it's usually to guys who are wide open."

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