Hockey Notebook: It was a goal worth savoring

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With less than 30 seconds remaining and Shaler up 7-5 on Upper St. Clair Jan. 7, the result of the contest was not in doubt.

But the play of the game -- and possibly the play of the season -- was still to come.

Shaler senior Patrick Boyle took a pass at center ice from Alex Ficorilli and shot into the Panthers' empty net, giving Boyle his first career goal.

"It was great to get it off my chest," Boyle said. "I couldn't be happier about it. It felt great."

Boyle was born with a rare condition called VATER Association (also called VACTERL), with the letters forming an acronym that represent the different systems in the body that the condition affects.

The condition has caused Boyle to have more than 100 medical procedures performed throughout his life on various parts of his body while also hindering his growth. He stands just 5 feet 2 and weighs only 110 pounds.

But those maladies didn't keep Boyle from staying active. His three older brothers played soccer and baseball, and Patrick said he gave soccer a try when he was younger. But his passion was for hockey, and he said he got involved in in-line hockey, which is played on rollerblades.

Then when Patrick was a sophomore in high school, Boyle's father, Kevin, approached Shaler coach Curt Hetz about his possibly trying out for the Titans. Hetz was completely on board, and Boyle made the team.

"I tried out, but to be honest, I didn't think I'd make it to where I am today," Boyle said.

Hetz said he tries to get Boyle out for a shift or two in every game if he can, and Hetz put him on the ice late in the game against the Panthers.

As Boyle's shot slid into the net, Hetz said only one other time had he experienced such a great moment in a hockey game.

"It reminded me of when we won the 2009 Penguins Cup," Hetz said. "We won in overtime, and you just remember the moment and everyone jumping over the boards to celebrate together. That's what happened when Patrick scored."

His teammates mobbed him on the ice while fans celebrated in the stands. He even got congratulatory "stick taps" from the Upper St. Clair players.

After the game, Boyle was greeted by his brother, Sean, who was home on break from college and able to attend the game. And on social media, many around the league were giving Boyle shout-outs.

"It was really special to see," Shaler senior captain Luke Grossman said. "It wasn't just Shaler -- it was the whole Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League rallying around him and cheering him on."

Clark joins 1,000-save club

Connellsville's Thomas Clark made 66 saves Monday against Keystone Oaks, giving him 1,010 on the season.

Clark becomes the first goaltender since Allderdice's Josh Luxbacher during the 2003-04 season to eclipse the 1,000-save mark. Luxbacher had 1,059 saves for the 0-23-1 Dragons.

Like Luxbacher's Allderice team, the Falcons (0-17) have yet to win a game this season. Clark was the only Connellsville player selected to the PIHL All-Star game.

Clark has faced at least 52 shots in 16 of 17 games this season. He has an .863 save percentage.

Games of the Week

PIHL All-Star games, Sunday starting at 11 a.m., RMU Sports Island Center -- The best players in the league will be on display Sunday during the four-game showcase. The event will start at 11 a.m. with the Open Class game, followed by the Class A, AA and AAA games.

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