York, PA - Life in the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League is a constant juggling act.
The travel players are there for fun.
The in-house players are there to learn.
And when can they get all of them together to even try to make it work? Practices are mostly a thing of the past at this point.
"What we did was a half a dozen practices before the season began," Susquehannock/Kennard-Dale coach Bill Wood said after a 9-0 victory against York Suburban/Irish Wednesday at the York City Ice Arena.
"We don't practice but two more times this season," Wood said. "To keep the cost low for those who travel, and are in house, and trying to make sure we get everyone who wants to play (to play), we try to blow through practices up front and have two or three games a week."
The zaniness only multiplies at the Tier 3 level, where teams are mixed and matched with players from opposing schools in order to field a full roster.
York Suburban and York Catholic are joined together, with other schools mixed in. The Susquehannock team is filled with players from Kennard-Dale, South Western and now Eastern, after Alex Smith and his freshman brother, Nathan, joined the team on Sunday night.
The Smith brothers were on York Suburban's team before, but a limited number of players on the Suburban roster and rising cost forced them to head elsewhere, Alex Smith said.
"The price for one player on York Suburban, would be both of us on this team," Smith said. "So it is a lot cheaper for us; we can afford this team, and there are a lot more players."
It prompted a few, light-hearted "traitor" jokes throughout the night, especially after Smith continued to score goal after goal.
"I'm not complaining about that one," Wood said of acquiring Smith, a senior at Eastern York.
He had a hat trick before the end of the first period and finished the game with four goals and two assists. He worked from behind the net for one goal and wrapped around the back of the goal, after charging down the line, for another.
"He's got a wonderful eye for the puck," Wood said. "His puck movement is very good. His skating and puck movement is great. When you get someone like that, who can find every hole between every defenders legs, it's nice to have. He adds a dimension that we didn't have."
It wasn't necessarily needed on this night. Susquehannock/Kennard-Dale had 15 skaters and a goalie Wednesday night. York Suburban/Irish had nine players in all. The drastic difference in depth showed immediately. By the end of the game, Suburban was outshot, 52-10.
Suburban/Irish goaltender JT Morris was in for a busy night. For the most part he held his own. Despite allowing the nine goals, he made 43 saves in 48 minutes on the ice.
Rick Mann had two goals for Susquehannock/Kennard-Dale. Drew Darragh, Nic Prego and Cullen Schwensen each had one. Alex Smith had two assists.
Alex Prego had 10 saves for Susquehannock/Kennard-Dale, including two in the final minute when Noah Conway broke away twice with on-on-one opportunities.
SUSQUEHANNOCK/KENNARD-DALE 9, SUBURBAN/IRISH 0
Susquehannock 4 1 4 -- 9
Suburban 0 0 0 -- 0
First Period -- 1. Sus/KD, Rick Mann (Adam Ciccotello, Alex Smith); 2. Sus/KD, Alex Smith (Paul Young); 3. Sus/KD, Alex Smith (unassisted); 4. Sus/KD, Alex Smith (unassisted).
Second Period --1. Sus/KD, Drew Darragh (unassisted).
Third Period --1. Sus/KD, Nic (Prego (Alex Smith), 3:02; 2. Sus/KD, Alex Smith (Thomas Warner), 4:51; 3. Sus/KD, Cullen Schwensen (unassisted), 8:01; 4. Sus/KD, Rick Mann (Cullen Schwensen), 13:44.
Goalies --Surburban/Irish, JT Morris (52 shots-43 saves); Susquehannock/Kennard-Dale, Alex Prego (10 shots-10 saves).