Park Pummels Central

WHEELING – Ian McArdle scored four goals and Nicco Catalano had two goals and three assists as Wheeling Park blanked Wheeling Central, 11-0, in an early season PIHL contest Monday night at WesBanco Arena.

The Patriots’ experienced lineup went to work early against the Maroon Knights, scoring four first-period goals before icing the game with six more in the second.

Leading the way were McArdle and Catalano, who entered the game as Park’s top two point scorers.

”We have a lot of upperclassmen and that should really take us a long way,” Patriots coach Brian Syrylo said. ”We have six returning seniors and we have a lot of experience.”

That experienced showed from the start as Park (3-0) peppered Central netminder John McFarland furiously during the first four minutes.

The Patriots’ persistence finally paid off with 12:32 left in the first when McArdle scored off an assist from Morgan Smith and Austin Curnes.

It was a long night for McFarland as Park outshot Central (0-3), 60-7.

”Scoring has been a big theme for us so far,” Syrylo said.

”A high-tempo offense is what we’re looking for. We’re trying to keep penalties at a minimum and score a lot of goals.”

For Central coach Grant VanLaar, he’s merely trying to put his team together.

”(Monday) was the first time all year we had everyone together,” he said. ”We haven’t practiced together or anything.”

Injuries have also posed a problem. Parker Henry, Gary Gwynn, Jefferson Gwynn and Michael Tighe are all out.

The silver lining for VanLaar, though, is many of his younger players are getting experience.

”I told the guys, the season is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. ”I told them they can’t hold their heads because we haven’t practiced together yet.

”It’s a long season and we want to be playing our best hockey at the end of the year, not right now.”

Syrylo probably feels the same way. But, even though it’s early in the going, the Patriots are packing quite a punch.

Catalano has 15 points this season, while McArdle has 12.

”He ought to be in the running for most points in the league,” Syrylo said. ”Hopefully, he’ll keep up the pace.”

Michael Grove added two goals for the Patriots, while Porter Knollinger, Tyler Strough and Derek Smith also scored.

”Park was hitting the trailer and the man in the slot and our guys were all watching the puck instead of finding a man,” VanLaar said. ”It’s 5-on-5, just like basketball.”