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York County teams balance CPIHL with travel play

With an especially high number of players who also participate in travel ice hockey, York County's CPIHL Tier 3 teams have an added challenge as the 2015-16 season gets under way: Balancing the workloads.

The Central York/Dallastown team - new to tier 3 after fielding separate teams in tier 1 last season - boasts a roster of 16 skaters and one goaltender. Head coach Rick Ostrowski said all but one player participate in travel team hockey. On Susquehannock's 14-man roster "at least 12 of them are travel players in some fashion," head coach Mark Prego said.

The two teams have started the season in relatively successful fashion. Central/Dallastown won its first two games by large margins: a 5-0 win on opening night, followed by an 8-1 victory. Susquehannock went 1-1 in its first two games of the year: a 5-3 loss followed by an 8-3 win.

But the number of travel players makes the two local squads the exception to the rule for most Tier 3 teams. CPIHL president Dan Keich said a majority of the players in Tier 3 play CPIHL hockey only, but he added that it varies on a team-by-team basis.

So Ostrowski and Prego have to strike a balance to prevent overworking their players. Susquehannock does not hold practice, and Central/Dallastown hosts only a handful of non-game skates during the season.

"It's not just a health issue it's also the cost," Prego said. "The league fees are based on ice time and payment for referees. So we basically pass that on to the players. The added costs for getting ice time for practice the last couple of years we've been leaving off to mitigate the cost to the players, especially those that are travel. Because travel is expensive as it is."

The coaches understand where the priority is for many of their players and said travel should be top priority for those athletes.

"I feel that the travel kids should focus on travel first," said Ostrowski, who also coaches a travel team. "This is a good skate, it's just for fun."

Executive changes coming

Following the 2015-16 season, Keich will step down as CPIHL president. But he isn't not the only executive to step down: Four other members will abdicate their positions, as well.

"I'm kind of an old school hockey guy and things now are changing," Keich said. "I can tell that I'm not changing with them. It's time to get some new blood in there and maybe they can figure some things out that I haven't been able to."

As of now there is no one in line to succeed Keich as president, and he would not name the other four outgoing members of the executive committee.

Tier 1 champs remain tough to beat

Hershey remains the team to beat in Tier 1. The defending champions have won 14 titles in the CPIHL's 21 years in existence. Hershey went 17-0-1 last season and defeated Cumberland Valley and Palmyra twice on their way to winning the Bears Cup.

Hershey is 1-0 after defeating Lower Dauphin, 5-1, in its season opener. Last season's leading scorer Sammy Steele (23-19-42) is returning for Hershey this year.

Back in action

The Tier 2 feel-good story early on is the Elizabethtown squad, which is off to a 2-0 to start after not being able to field a pure team the previous seasons. Elizabethtown won its opener, 16-1, against Manheim Central and followed it up with an 11-4 win against Annville/Cleona.

Johnny Nicholson leads the team in scoring (6-7-13) through two games.