Hockey Notebook: There's no penalty for the way Bethel Park has been playing
Bethel Park's Derek Lesnak battles in front of the net with Norwin's Dan Merz, left, and Christian Slafka during a game earlier this season. Lesnak, a junior captain, leads a Black Hawks team that is the least-penalized unit in PIHL Class AAA at 64 penalty minutes.
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Every team in Class AAA has racked up at least 100 penalty minutes this season except one -- defending Class AAA Penguins Cup champion Bethel Park.
The Black Hawks have just 64 PIMs this season, and there is a reason for that.
"It's simple, if you take a penalty, you'll run 5 miles the next day at practice," Bethel Park coach Jim McVay said. "If you take two penalties, you'll run 7 miles.
"About two weeks ago I had a player who committed two penalties and he told me after his run that he was never going to do that again."
McVay also said that in addition to the running, the player will likely be benched during the game after committing a penalty.
He did concede that there are rare exceptions when he won't discipline a player if he thinks the referee made a poor call. But otherwise, even the team's best players are running.
"It doesn't matter if it's your best player or your worst player, you have to hold all players accountable," McVay said. "That's the only way it works."
Because the team has had so few penalties, Bethel Park has allowed only four power-play goals all season. It is one of the reasons why the team is second in fewest goals allowed this season and has a 10-3 record.
"The fewer power plays you give the other team, the more games you are going to win," Bethel Park junior captain Derek Lesnak said.
Only three other teams in all classifications of the PIHL -- Kittanning, Westmont Hilltop and Ambridge -- entered the week with fewer than 100 penalty minutes, but none had fewer than Bethel Park.
Freshmen making their mark
The 2012-13 season has seen some impressive performances from the freshman class, including (all statistics are prior to Thursday's games):
• Quaker Valley's Connor Quinn is fifth in Class A in points with 39 (14 goals, 25 assists).
• West Allegheny's Jess Ligas leads the Indians in goals (18) and points (31), while teammate Sean Weber leads the team in assists (16) and is second in goals (10) and points (26).
• Serra Catholic's Roman Kraemer has 15 goals and 15 assists.
• Connor Bunn leads Bishop McCort in goals (11), assists (9) and points (20).
• Austin Martz leads Shaler in goals (12) and points (17).
• Freeport goaltender Matt Huston is 4-1-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
Pfeffer standing on head for Raiders
One of the reasons Seneca Valley (10-3-1) has rebounded from back-to-back three-win seasons to become a Penguins Cup title contender is the eye-opening play of goaltender Tanner Pfeffer.
Pfeffer is 7-3-1 with a .915 save percentage. He has stopped more than 30 shots in a game six times this season, including a 60-save performance in a 2-2 tie against Canon-McMillan on Nov. 21.
Pfeffer earned his first shutout of the season Tuesday, stopping all 33 shots he faced in a 1-0 victory against Central Catholic.
Pfeffer's strong play has earned him a spot on the Class AAA Southwest Conference team for the PIHL All-Star game Feb. 10 at RMU Island Sports Center.
Games of the week
• Kittanning vs. Quaker Valley, 6:30 p.m., tonight, North Park Outdoor Rink
First meeting between the two teams since the Quakers (13-0 heading into Thursday) eliminated the Wildcats (8-4-1) in the Class A Penguins Cup semifinals last season.
• Canon-McMillan at North Allegheny, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Bladerunners-Warrendale
The Big Macs (9-5-2) are one of only two teams to beat the Tigers (12-2 heading into Thursday) this season.
• Greater Latrobe at Erie Cathedral Prep, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Mercyhurst Rink
• Heading into Thursday, the last time either the Wildcats (9-1) or the Ramblers (8-2) lost was Dec. 6.
First Published January 25, 2013 12:00 am