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(submitted by: Tom Kleckner)

Plano East Playoffs Come to Quick End

PLANO (April 4, 2005) – All in all, Plano East coach Jimmy Cariera would much prefer to be coaching the Panthers Tuesday night in a second-round playoff game, just as the Panthers have done the last couple of years.

However, Cariera and his Panthers will be spectators as the SBC Metroplex High School Hockey League playoffs continue without them. PESH’s season came to a quick end last week with a first-round defeat to Plano Senior High, 6-1. The Wildcats scored 51 seconds into the game and had a 2-0 lead before PESH could get a shot off on goal. Plano wound up out-shooting the Panthers, 39-18.

The loss was especially disappointing, considering East concluded the regular season with a 1-0 shutout of Plano just four days before. The Panthers had won their previous two playoff games against the Wildcats.

“It’s disappointing to be out already, but my hat’s off to Senior,” Cariera said. “We put our best foot forward Thursday (in the 1-0 win), but when we came around to Monday, we thought we could put our skates on and just go out there.”

The defeat ended a season that began with so much promise and a 2-0-2 record. The Panthers closed with a 2-3-2 rush, but a 13-game winless streak doomed PESH to a 4-15-5 record and last place in Section 1’s Gold division.

Counting the playoffs, PESH scored only 45 goals in 25 games. However, Cariera said he saw a number of positives during the recently completed season, beginning with the players’ work ethic.

“They worked hard. Whatever I tried to teach them, they did their best to make it happen,” Cariera said. “I don’t have any negative memories. I enjoyed the season, seeing the kids learning, progressing and becoming better players. I told the underclassmen to learn from this, to take a leadership role next year.”

Barring unexpected losses or potential conflicts with high-level travel teams, Cariera will rely on a core group led by winger Ryan Balcolm. A three-year veteran and rising senior, Balcolm led PESH in scoring with 9 goals and 15 points.

Sophomores Justin Novak (5 goals, 8 points) and Bill Murray (3 goals, 4 points) could also provide valuable experience. They could be joined by 2005 rookies JP Harris on defense and forwards Will Young (7 points) and Logan Toups (5 points).

Sophomore goaltender Brandon Bailey can return as well. Bailey was 3-8-3 – with all three wins coming by shutout – this season, with an .883 save percentage.


Plano East Out to Snap Winless Streak
Against Allen Tuesday Night

PLANO (January 24, 2005) – Plano East begins its second series of games within its division right where it started the season 15 games ago – still searching for its identity.

“Other teams have been working together as a team and getting ready for the playoffs,” said Plano East coach Jimmy Cariera. “I’m still back at square one.”

Injuries, academic suspensions and one early graduation have robbed the Panthers of any continuity gained by a surprising 2-0-2 start. They will take a 2-10-3 record into Tuesday night’s 8 p.m. game with Allen at the Frisco Dr Pepper StarCenter, a 3-3 tie with Flower Mound being the lone bright spot in an 11-game winless streak.

Things began to go wrong before the first practice, when a transfer cost Cariera one of his captains. An injury took away another defenseman in October, and academic suspensions have since reduced the roster to 11 able-bodied skaters.

“It’s been a snowball effect,” Cariera said. “It’s tough mentally to practice time and time again, game in and game out, with such a short roster. We’ve had to call up JV kids who are not ready for varsity play.”

There have been some bright spots as of late. Plano East held high-scoring Flower Mound Marcus to 20 shots and four goals in its last game, a 4-0 loss. The Panthers outshot an opponent for the first time the game before that against Frisco, losing 4-2 after forging a 2-2 tie late in the second period.

“Some kids have shown promise,” Cariera said, pointing to the silver lining. “They are getting a lot of ice time.”

Goalie Crystal Testolin, who had given up high school hockey this year, has returned to the ice in filling in for regular goalies Michael Pruneau and Brandon Bailey. Pruneau graduated at mid-term, taking a 16-5-5 career record and a .901 save percentage this year with him; Bailey has been bothered by a wrist injury.

Bailey (1-4-1, a .868 save percentage and one shutout) will be back in net Tuesday against Allen, which is battling Plano West for first place in Section 1 of the SBC Metroplex High School Hockey League. Plano East, with seven points, trails fourth place McKinney (6-9-0) by five points.

The Panthers continue to struggle to score goals, averaging just over 16 shots a game. They have been shut out four times, and held to a single goal five other times. Their 21 total goals are half as many as any other team in their section.

Senior Vince Scudieri leads the team in scoring, with seven points. Fellow defenseman Justin Novak has four goals and five points.

“Our goal is to keep things simple,” Cariera said. “We have to get things back on track and everyone on the same page. We have to keep the puck in the zone, dumping it and running it down.”

The Panthers haven’t held a lead since midway through the first period of their Dec. 16 3-3 tie with Flower Mound.


Plano East Opens Sectional Play
Riding Four-Game Unbeaten Streak

PLANO (November 3, 2004) – On the one hand, Plano East coach Jimmy Cariera was disappointed with last week’s 4-4 tie against Flower Mound Marcus, seeing as how the Panthers gave up third-period leads of 2-0 and 4-2 – and losing what could be a valuable point with only 11.4 seconds to play.

On the other hand, Cariera was pleased the Panthers led most of the game and forced Marcus to play catch-up.

“I’m glad Marcus had to come back and tie us,” Cariera said. “We used this game as a measuring stick. There are several teams out there we have to beat, and Marcus was one of them. This was a pivotal game for us.”

The Panthers will take a 2-0-2 record into tonight’s Section 1 Gold division opener against Allen. The first puck drops at 9:30 at the Frisco Dr Pepper StarCenter.

PESH leads Section 1 with 6 points. Allen, Plano Senior and Plano West are all 2-2 with 4 points. McKinney is 1-3.

Asked if he would have taken a 2-0-2 record at this point before the season began, Cariera said, “Absolutely.”

“I’m looking forward to playing in our section,” Cariera said. “No worries.”

Least of which is goaltending. Senior Michael Pruneau (1-0-2) and sophomore Brandon Bailey (1-0) have combined to stop 98 of the 103 shots they have faced (a .951 save percentage) and they each have a shutout. They saw a scoreless streak of 117 minutes and 31 seconds come to an end against Marcus.

Offensively, the Panthers have scored nine goals in their four games. Seniors Vince Scudieri and Shane Oakerson lead PESH in scoring with 2 goals and 3 points.

“Our team has a chance to win every game. We just have to work on holding a lead,” Cariera said.

Marcus out-shot PESH 31-18, scoring twice on power plays and just before the final horn after pulling its goalie. The Panthers have yet to give up a goal in a five-on-five situation this year.

The Plano East Hockey Association (http://www.peshhockey.com/) promotes the game of hockey and presents positive role models for our community’s youth. The PEHA provides an equal opportunity for the young people in the Plano East Senior High School feeder zone to learn the game and share in the enjoyment of playing. Each participant – player, coach, referee and parent – should find a supportive environment that promotes fun and that encourages development to his or her maximum potential in the game of ice hockey. In doing so, they learn the value and importance of teamwork and exemplify sportsmanship.



Pruneau’s Return in Goal
Well Worth the Wait for Plano East

PLANO (October 13, 2004) – For Plano East goalie Michael Pruneau, his first high school game in two years was “a lot of fun.” For his coach, Jimmy Cariera, it was well worth the wait.

“Without a question,” said Cariera of Pruneau’s play in the Panthers’ 2-1 win over Flower Mound last Thursday. “It’s such a relief, not worrying about who’s going to start in goal. All I have to worry about now is who we are playing.”

Pruneau whetted Cariera’s appetite with a couple of sparkling performances during summer league play. During one game, a 1-0 shutout of Plano West, Cariera wrote on his game notes, “High school play starts in October.”

Pruneau was 15-1-3 with four shutouts during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but sat out last year because of his job at a local movie theater. “They needed me to work for them, and I needed to work to pay for my travel hockey,” said Pruneau, who also tends goal for the Alliance’s AA midget major team.

This year, Pruneau has rearranged his schedule to fit in the Thursday night high school games and Wednesday morning daybreak Plano East practices. “I thought since I’ve only got one year left, I would make the most of it,” he said.

Pruneau certainly did against Flower Mound last week, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced. Pruneau’s goaltending kept the young Panthers in a game they eventually won, 2-1, by scoring twice in the last 2:20 on goals by sophomore Eric Henigsmith and senior Shane Oakerson. Oakerson’s goal came with only 8 seconds left.

“It was great to be back on the ice for East,” Pruneau said. “There’s a feeling you get playing high school hockey you don’t get with travel, because of the fans in the stands. It’s a lot more fun.”

Fun, maybe, but Pruneau’s return does make it difficult for Cariera, already blessed with sophomore goalie Brandon Bailey, to decide who will start between the pipes. Bailey was 7-5-2 for the Panthers last year, with two shutouts and a .894 save percentage.

Cariera has said he will play it by ear, going with the hot hand, but promising both goalies plenty of ice time. He is leaning to starting Pruneau in Thursday night’s non-sectional game against Coppell, a 7-5 winner over McKinney last week.

“I don’t think flip-flopping back and forth is the answer, because goalies tend to get on hot streaks,” Cariera said.

For his part, Pruneau says he doesn’t mind sharing time with Bailey. “He’s a very capable goaltender … and he’s got two more years to play.”

Pruneau also understands his responsibility as a senior leader among this group of young Panthers. “I have a different role than I did my first two years,” he said. “This year, Coach Cariera is hoping for me to be a leader.”

That, and to stop every puck that comes his way.

So far, so good.

The Plano East Hockey Association (http://www.peshhockey.com/) promotes the game of hockey and presents positive role models for our community’s youth. The PEHA provides an equal opportunity for the young people in the Plano East Senior High School feeder zone to learn the game and share in the enjoyment of playing. Each participant – player, coach, referee and parent – should find a supportive environment that promotes fun and that encourages development to his or her maximum potential in the game of ice hockey. In doing so, they learn the value and importance of teamwork and exemplify sportsmanship.


Goaltending, Balanced Effort
Key to PESH Success in ’04-05

PLANO (October 5, 2004) – Having lost its top two goal scores and 64% of its point production from last season, Plano East will rely on one of the best 1-2 goaltending combinations in the section and a balanced effort in the offensive zone in the 2004-05 season.

Senior Michael Pruneau and sophomore Brandon Bailey give the Panthers a blend of experience and talent in front of the net unlike few other teams in the SBC Metroplex High School Hockey League.

Pruneau, who sat out last season to focus on a part-time job, was a combined 15-1-3 as a freshman and sophomore, with four shutouts and a .897 save percentage. Bailey stepped into the void last season with two shutouts – including a memorable 34-save performance against Highland Park – and a .894 save percentage in compiling a 7-5-2 record.

The Panthers open the season Thursday night at 9:30 against Flower Mound at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Valley Ranch. They are part of the traditionally strong Section 1 Gold Division, which also includes defending champion Plano West, Plano Senior, McKinney and Allen.

“Our goaltenders will keep us in every game, and that’s where it all starts,” said second-year PESH coach Jimmy Cariera.

Pruneau gave Cariera a taste of what to expect during summer-league play, giving up one goal in the two games he played and beating eventual summer champ Plano West, 1-0. Pruneau also registered a shutout in the third-place game – a 2-0 victory over Jesuit – during the Fall High School Classic tournament in August. Bailey was 1-0-1 during the same tournament, splitting time with Pruneau and helping hold the opposition to five goals in four games.

Pruneau and Bailey may have to carry a team that returns 11 skaters with some varsity experience, but only one, junior winger Ryan Balcom (15 goals, 20 points), who scored more than two goals or seven points.

“We lack the big guns this year, but the team knows that. They’ve really been working hard, on and off the ice,” Cariera said. “We have a few new faces, but it’s a long season. We’ll be looking to see what the kids bring to the table.”

Cariera is buoyed by PESH’s third-place finish in the Fall Classic. With only eight returning regulars seeing significant playing time, the Panthers went 2-1-1, showing heart and moxie.

Returnees on offense include senior captain Cody Martin (2 goals, 6 points), Bill Murray, Gaston Litterer, Mark Ringering and Bill Waldschmidt. Shane Oakerson (2 goals, 3 points), who was pulled up from the junior varsity at the end of the season and saw significant minutes in the playoffs, is also expected to continue his rapid improvement.

Senior Vince Scudieri leads a solid defense that includes Justin Novak (2 goals, 7 points) and Justin Bell.

Logan Toups, the junior varsity’s MVP after scoring 7 goals and 11 points, has been elevated to the varsity this year. Defenseman J.P. Harris and forward Will Young, both freshmen, are among other newcomers expected to contribute. Young broke his leg during summer play, but has rejoined the team’s practices.

Cariera said he will work to create balance among his offensive lines, rather than put together one or two strong lines. He is counting on aggressive play from everyone who steps out onto the ice.

“We’ve got our program set up and our systems are intact,” Cariera said. “We know what we want to do and what we want to accomplish. If it doesn’t work out early, we’ll just adjust.”

The Panthers were 10-10-4 last year after a 3-7-3 start. They added a 1-0 victory over Plano in the playoffs before falling to eventual state tournament champion Plano West, 4-1.

PESH begins the season with four non-sectional games, including a crossover game with Richardson from the Silver Division. Its first sectional game comes against Gold newcomer Allen on Nov. 4, at the Frisco Dr Pepper StarCenter.

The Plano East Hockey Association (http://www.peshhockey.com/) promotes the game of hockey and presents positive role models for our community’s youth. The PEHA provides an equal opportunity for the young people in the Plano East Senior High School feeder zone to learn the game and share in the enjoyment of playing. Each participant – player, coach, referee and parent – should find a supportive environment that promotes fun and that encourages development to his or her maximum potential in the game of ice hockey. In doing so, they learn the value and importance of teamwork and exemplify sportsmanship

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Website last updated on: 2 May, 2005