HATFIELD – Loving your chosen sport means more than trying to emulate its professional stars. Real passion includes talent, dedication and direction. Based on those criteria, Matt Owens, of Council Rock South, must certainly be infatuated with ice hockey.
Matt entered the ice hockey wars at the young age of two years old. “My dad got me into it. He played hockey growing up.”
Those early years on the ice proved challenging as young Matt tried to synchronize maneuvering around a frozen surface while wielding a big stick. “The shooting was tough because when I was younger. Whenever I shot, I would fall down.”
Matt obviously mastered and perfected his hold on the basic skills. Fifteen years later, the Council Rock South junior is assistant captain of the Golden Hawks team. This past season, he led his fellow icemen in total points with 15 goals scored and 13 assists.
More tellingly, Matt has developed the kind of commitment that embraces future aspirations. “I’ve been playing for all my life. I want to keep going. I kind of like working for something, working for a goal. The appeal of hockey is making a future for myself.”
To reach such goals requires real devotion. In addition to playing for the Golden Hawks, Matt practices and travels with his club team, the Minutemen, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
“Playing for the Minutemen helped get a lot of publicity for college scouts and other junior teams. We went to Minnesota every month for a tournament. We went to Denver, also.”
Club involvement also created a rather hectic schedule when the season overlapped with Matt’s participation in the Suburban High School Hockey League (SHSHL). In essence, he hit the ice every day during the week and played games on the weekends.
His Monday practices with CR South focus on team chemistry. “We practice from 6:10 to 7:10. We work on flow drills, passing, and a lot of aggressive corner drills.”
The practice paid off as the Golden Hawks finished in second place in the SHSHL’s National Division. South racked up a 12-4 league mark, just a half-game behind William Tennent, who finished with a 12-3-1 record. The Hawks outscored their opponents by a 106 to 46 goal margin.
Their impressive record earned Council Rock a berth in the SHSHL’s playoffs held the week of February 28. “We went into it thinking we weren’t going to win that much. As the playoffs went on, we got our hopes up.”
In the opening round, the Hawks faced Souderton. Unfortunately, they also faced a depleted lineup. Three players and their coach Joe Houk were all serving suspensions. The remaining ice warriors, however, rallied and clinched a hard-fought 4-3 victory when Luke Hurwitz found the back of the Indian goal with 4:50 left in the game.
Next up for the Hawks was top-seeded Central Bucks West. Two goals by Dylan Feoli, and single scores from Matt Owens and Jared Wagenman helped knot the score at 4-4 at the end of regulation play.
Trey Elmer’s goal three minutes into overtime assured the Hawks a 5-4 upset win.
“That game really brought us together. I was in the box on the last play. The last play was a two-on-one and that was the first time we passed the puck up North/South, not East/West. We got the puck toward the offensive zone. After the game, we were very excited. We partied it up in the locker room and had a good time.”
The big victory sent the Hawks into the championship game against Central Bucks South, a team they had vanquished 5-1 during the regular season.
“We went in with a lot more confidence than we did for the beginning playoff game and that helped a lot. We were leading and then we got penalties and that brought us down.”
With seven minutes and 21 seconds left in the game, CR led 4-3. Back-to-back penalties on Trey Elmer and Joe Houk, however, left them facing a big two-men-down disadvantage.
“In that situation, we want to stop them from scoring and just keep our heads and not run around. We just try to play our position and keep people from in front of the net and make them shoot from outside the hash mark.”
The odds proved too great as the Titans wheeled off three quick goals to capture a 6-4 victory and claim the championship crown. “I felt kind of broken-hearted. I thought we had a great chance and penalties ruined us. That was what hurt us all season.”
Though disappointed, Matt and his Golden Hawk teammates knew they could rally for the upcoming Flyers Cup playoffs. “We’re facing Souderton first and we’ll have our whole team so we’re going in with more confidence than we did with the league playoffs. Then, we will have CB South in the second round and we will be seeking revenge.”
With a dedicated performer of Matt’s caliber leading the charge, the Golden Hawks should offer a strong Flyers Cup showing.
TOP PHOTO: Council Rock South’s Matt Owens (23) fights with CB South’s Nick Morelli (36) for position in recent SHSHL championship battle won by the Titans. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)
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