It has been a very successful school year so far for Parkland High School athletes.
The highlights have included District 11 championship football, cross-country, tennis, swimming, soccer teams; a league, district and state runnerup girls volleyball squad that featured All-Americans Kelly Robertson and Taylor Krause and a National Coach of the Year in Mike Krause; a two-time state champion wrestler in Ethan Lizak and a district champion boys basketball team that's still playing in the state tournament.
There's another Parkland team that is making its own championship history, although it may not receive the notoriety of some of the others.
That's the Trojans ice hockey team which won the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League title for the fourth straight year and is still alive in the prestigious Flyers Cup tournament.
Parkland defeated Abington 3-1 for its first-ever Flyers Cup victory last week and will face Downingtown East at 8:30 tonight at the Ice Line Rink in West Chester in a quarterfinal-round matchup.
"We believe we are the first Lehigh Valley team to win a regular Flyers Cup tournament game," said Parkland coach Gerry Chandik. "Northampton, I was told, won a play-in game a few years ago, but this was a regular tournament game, so this is a big thing for the Valley and Parkland. It's very exciting."
Parkland is a No. 11 seed and Downingtown East is a No. 3 seed, but Chandik believes his kids have a shot.
"I know we belong; we just have to go out and execute and perform like we can," Chandik said.
If Parkland can manage three more wins to take the Flyers Cup on March 19, the Trojans would then be considered East champs and would play a Western champion, the Penguins Cup winner, for the overall state title. That would be on March 23.
"It's one game at a time, but I gave those dates out to everybody and told them to expect to be busy on those dates," Chandik said.
The travel leagues often become more important to kids than their scholastic teams, but Chandik sought a commitment from his players and it has paid off in the form of an 18-0-1 season to this point that included a sweep of Emmaus in the LVSHL title series.
"The kids have responded tremendously to the team aspect," Chandik said. "I've been asked after games about what I think about the kids who scored the goals for us, and I'll tell you what, I don't even know who scored the goals. It's one team going for a 'W' and they've been working to get it. This has been just a great core group and kids who are having a good time together."
Most of the kids have come the Parkland hockey system, many of them for seven years or more..
And since this is considered a "pure team," all team members are Parkland students.
Chandik's son, Nicolas, and Brett McHale, lead the team in scoring with 53 points apiece. McHale has 33 goals and 20 assists and Chandik has 18 goals and 35 assists.
Ryan Dumbach and Morgan Bensinger are also among the leaders with 26 points; 14 goals and 12 assists by Dumbach and 12 goals and 14 assists by Bensinger.
But coach Chandik says that while he enjoys the teamwork on offense, he hates giving up goals even more.
"I want our goalie to be so bored that he can count flakes of ice during a game," he said. "Our guys know that. They think defense first and put the extra effort in."
That approach paid off as Parkland gave up one or less goals in 11 of the 18 league games they played, two or less in 14 games.
But the kids have a generous side.
As a club team not affiliated with the PIAA, Parkland must raise its own funds.
For the first Flyers Cup game, the team had enough money to take a charter bus to its game, but instead the players opted to use the money for a fan bus.
"We have had great fan support all season and the kids wanted to make sure they were there for the first Flyers Cup game," Chandik said. "We expect the support to continue."
And Chandik, who is assisted by Richard Dumbach and James Swartz III, said he believes his players will give the fans a few more thrills.
"Our kids are happy, but they're not satisfied," he said. "They're not going to come out flat on Monday night. They're going to come out ready to play."
Besides those previously mentioned, team members include: Jordan Lorah, Robert Stock, Anthony Sorrentino, Zachary Zager, Matthew Doe, Evan Dratch, James Swartz, Brian Sherrier, Jake Hulsizer, Colin Pratt, Tristan Sorrentino, Benjamin Zager, Matt Knotek, Nicholas White and Kevin Siroka.
KEEPING IN TOUCH
•Jessica Guro (Liberty) ended her collegiate swimming career the weekend of March 1-3 at the Big 12 Swimming Championships in Austin, Texas. She helped the University of Texas win the Big 12 crown with a third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke (54.03) and a third-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke (1:57.34).
In addition to helping Texas win two Big 12 team titles, Guro ended her career as a three-time All-American; a two-time Big 12 champion, and a three-time Big 12-All Academic first-team selection.
•Temple's Matt Kacyon (Whitehall) placed fifth in the 3,000 meters at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track and Field Championships last month at the University of Rhode Island. Kacyon ran a personal best time of 8:32.06 to score four points in the team standings for the Owls, who finished eighth overall. Charlotte won the team title.
•The Susquehanna University women's lacrosse team is ranked No. 20 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association (IWLCA) and is off to a 5-0 start thanks in part to the play of senior Lindsey Derstine (Southern Lehigh). Derstine recently went over the 100-point mark in her career and has three goals and two assists this season.
•The Lehigh-Carbon men's and women's basketball teams had several players honored as Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference all-stars.
On the women's side, sophomore Casey Rinfret (Palmerton) was a first team-selection and sophomore Jordan Hordley (Blue Mountain) was a second-team choice and Marge Beahm was named the coach of the year.
On the boys side, freshmen Frank DeJesus (Allen) and Erik Nyamai (Shimo-La-Tew, Kenya) were first-team choices.