By: Kevin Lohman
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 7:49 PM
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League is comprised of 56 teams across four separate classifications. Out of those teams, only one finished the 2018-19 regular season without a loss in regulation time — Pine-Richland.
For their efforts this season, the Rams (20-0-1) were selected to participate in the USA Hockey Division 1 High School Nationals Tournament from March 28-April 1, in Cleveland, Ohio.
The event, which is billed as one of the top gatherings of high school hockey talent in the country, grants tournament-bound status to high-quality teams that participate in leagues affiliated or associated with USA Hockey.
According to Pine-Richland coach Jordan Yoklic, his team put itself on the map early in the season. Since then, the Rams have cemented their status with their consistently stellar performances on the ice.
“We’re very excited for the opportunity. It started going into the works earlier in the year. We were playing in the preseason St. Margaret’s tournament, and I think we caught the league’s eye. I think they had some confidence in us and continued to keep an eye on us as the year progressed,” Yoklic said.
“I think we’ve earned it, based on the season that we’ve had up until this point. It’s a great honor, and I’m just really excited for the players.”
The high school nationals tournament will serve as the cherry on top of an already successful season for the Rams under Yoklic in his first season at the helm of the program.
Prior to nationals, Pine-Richland was scheduled to play in the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup finals against Upper St. Clair on Monday, after deadline for this edition.
The Rams scored three times in the third period to secure a 5-2 victory over Franklin Regional in the semifinals. Ian Voit, Richard Wild and Will Studt had the goals.
Yoklic said it’s the type of season he would have gladly signed up for when he first came to the job just prior to the beginning of the year.
“Absolutely. The players we have, they’ve earned it. There’s a lot of seniors on this team, so having this type of season and getting that invite to nationals, it all means a lot,” Yoklic said.
“There will be teams from all over the country there competing, so we’ll see what we’re made out of. We’ll give it our best, that’s for sure. We’re just super-excited to go up to Cleveland, showcase our talents, and play some Pine-Richland hockey.”