Truman, No Longer A Pushover, Joins Race For Playoffs

Posted: January 30, 2001

In what has been a considerable turnaround from past seasons, the Harry S Truman ice hockey team is vying for one of the six playoff berths in the Lower Bucks County Scholastic Hockey League.

The Tigers, long considered the league doormat, compiled a 5-83-7 mark in league play over the last four seasons. They went 4-16-4 last year, 0-24 in 1998-99, 0-21-3 in '97-98, and 1-22 in '96-97.

Taking on the squad is no longer an easy win for league foes, though. Heading into last night's game against first-place Archbishop Ryan, sixth-place Truman was 7-11-2 in Lower Bucks action.

"We should make the playoffs," Truman coach Charles Stadler said. "The last time we did that was at least seven or eight years ago."

The resurgence has been led by three seniors: goalkeeper Tim Sylvester, winger John Rice, and defenseman Mike DiTommaso.

"We're finally pulling together and playing as a team," Rice said. "That's been one of the big reasons we've done pretty well this year."

In a four-game stretch earlier this season, Sylvester yielded only one goal. He gave up one score against Upper Dublin and posted shutouts against Neshaminy, Bensalem and Pennsbury. The 3-0 blanking of Pennsbury on Dec. 11 was a major confidence booster.

"He's a solid goalie, plays the angles very well," Stadler said, "and his quick reflexes allow him time to make that extra save."

Sylvester stopped 43 of 48 shots in a 5-2 loss to fourth-place Holy Ghost Prep on Jan.22. The Firebirds notched three power-play goals. Junior defenseman Sal Punturiero accounted for both of Truman's goals.

Rice and DiTommaso will represent Truman in the All-Star Game that will pit the top players in the Lower Bucks league against the best in the Suburban High School Hockey League. That game is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Face-Off Circle in Warminster.

The 5-foot-7, 185-pound Rice is making his first appearance in the Lower Bucks-Suburban all-star matchup. The Croydon resident also plays club hockey, at the Midget A level, for the Bristol Blazers. Sylvester is one of his teammates.

"Tim is a good communicator," Rice said. "He's always talking to the players, both on and off the ice, about where they should be positioned and what to look for against a certain team."

Surging Vikings. Entering last night's crossover game against Episcopal Academy, Archbishop Wood had compiled a 4-0-3 mark in its last seven Suburban games.

"We've been playing more disciplined hockey," Wood coach Rick Gallagher said. "The kids have been doing a better job of staying out of the penalty box."

The third-place Vikings, however, found themselves shorthanded for most of the second and third periods in a 5-5 tie against Patriot Division rival Pennridge. The second-place Rams forged a tie on a power-play goal with only 25 seconds remaining in the third period.

Junior center Joe Gansky, Wood's leading scorer, and freshman winger/center Frank McHugh each netted two goals. A goal by senior winger Brennen McKee gave the Vikings a 4-1 lead midway through the second period.

Senior defenseman/forward Carmen Petrella will represent Wood in the All-Star Game between the Suburban and Lower Bucks leagues.

"Carmen has played a lot of positions for us this season," Gallagher said. "The only thing I haven't asked him to do is play goalie."

The Vikings (6-8-3) will meet first-place Hatboro-Horsham (13-2-1) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Warwick Twin Rinks.

All-Star Game. The eight-team Lower Bucks league will hold its annual All-Star Game on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Grundy Recreational Center in Bristol Borough.

The Blue team will be made up of players from Neshaminy, Harry S Truman, Father Judge, and Archbishop Ryan.

The White team will be comprised of players from Bensalem, Conwell-Egan, Pennsbury, and Holy Ghost Prep.

Inter-County. Bishop McDevitt senior forward Bill Cleary, with 14 goals and 15 assists, is the leading scorer in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League A-East Division. Souderton senior winger Jeff Schmidt (17 goals, 8 assists) is second in the A-East rankings. . . . Methacton senior netminder Drew Moister has a 2.06 goals-against average. The Warriors (10-0-1) trail first-place Radnor (11-0-1) by two points in the A-North standings.

Rick O'Brien's e-mail address is robrien@phillynews.com.

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