All-Delco Hockey: Kain Walker a major part of Penncrest’s revival on ice

In addition to player of the year Drew Knight of Radnor, the All-Delco team includes:

Kain Walker, Penncrest: A rampaging postseason was the capper on an excellent campaign and career for the high-scoring winger. The senior, whose class didn’t win a game as freshmen, helped the Lions go from the seventh seed to their first Central title since 2005. Walker led the way with a team-high 24 goals and 42 points. His points per game tally of 2.10 was seventh-best in Delco. Walker had a solid regular season, among them two-goal outings against Radnor, Strath Haven and Springfield before the Christmas break. But he went on a tear in the playoffs: Two goals, including the game-winner, against Conestoga; a goal and two assists against Radnor; two and three in bossing Lower Merion in the final. He added two goals and the assist on the game-winner in Penncrest’s Flyers Cup Class A win over Plymouth Whitemarsh. All told, it was 13 points in five postseason games, his explosive offensive ability the ultimate difference maker in tight games.

Garnet Valley’s Dylan Kouba fires a shot on Cardinal O’Hara goalie Liam Schlickling. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY TIMES)

Dylan Kouba, Garnet Valley: The senior was the anchor of a young forward corps that matured quickly this year. Kouba’s prolific scoring ensured that this early step in their development included games in both the Central League playoffs and the Flyers Cup. Kouba got to 30 goals on the season, trailing only Knight in Delaware County. He added 14 assists for 44 points and a 2.2 points per game ratio, fifth-best in Delco. He had his most productive games against Ridley – two goals and three assists in November, five goals and a helper in January. But he also registered consecutive hat tricks against Penncrest and Conestoga down the stretch of the season. Kouba feasted on nonleague competition, with a hat trick against West Chester Henderson and multi-point games in all five non-conference affairs. He also scored in the Jaguars’ Flyers Cup loss to Springfield.

Luke Melito, Cardinal O’Hara: The senior forward’s game-breaking speed helped O’Hara contend in a difficult PCL division. Melito finished third in Delco with 25 goals. He added 11 assists for 36 points, his points per game of 2.00 good for 10th in the county. His signature performance may have come on Dec. 1 when he blistered neighborhood rival Springfield for five goals in a 10-0 thrashing. He added hat tricks against league foes Father Judge, Shanahan-Coatesville and Roman Catholic (one of two five-point games against the Cahillites.) Melito scored twice in the Lions’ PCL playoff ouster against Father Judge, including the game-tying goal with 76 seconds left to send the game to OT.

Nick Dignazio, Strath Haven: The lone repeating All-Delco player, Dignazio shined even as the Panthers struggled, though he did help them qualify for the Flyers Cup. Dignazio did whatever was required. Nominally a defenseman, he largely played as a center in a hybrid position, taking draws and leading rushes but also recovering deep. He scored a team-high 22 goals and 37 points, good for 2.06 points per game, ninth best in the county. In 13 league contests, he lit the lamp 18 times and had 29 points. That includes a hat trick in November against Haverford, two and two against Radnor and a four-goal outing against Ridley. Dignazio had a goal and an assist in each of the Panthers’ non-league games against the West Chester schools. He had a hand in both goals, with a goal and an assist, in a 4-2 loss to Hershey in the first round of the Flyers Cup Class A. Also an All-Delco in soccer, Dignazio will continue his career in both sports at Ithaca College.

Cardinal O’Hara’s Luke Melito, left, moves the puck up ice as Judge’s Colin Walsh defends in their playoff game. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY TIMES)

AJ Moleski, Haverford: The senior converted defenseman was immensely valuable to the Fords, who finished the regular season as the top seed in the Central League. Faced with having to replace their entire defense from last season, Moleski stepped up to helm the blue line, helping the Fords allow 31 goals in 13 league games. That’s the lowest total in the league, and only one other team allowed fewer than 46. Moleski added five goals and seven assists, including a helper in the Fords’ win over Garnet Valley in the first round of the Central League playoffs. The left-handed shooter added a goal and two assists against Garnet Valley and Lower Merion in the regular season and a goal and a helper against Ridley and in nonleague games with Perkiomen Valley and Downingtown East.

Matthew Beatty, Marple Newtown: The Tigers had a special season, and the senior goalie was a big reason why. In the last half-decade, the Tigers have gone from not competitive enough to play in the Central League to this year finishing third in the standings and winning a Flyers Cup Class A game. Beatty backstopped that effort with an .891 save percentage, third-best in Delco, and a goals-against average at an even 4.00. He made 24 saves early in a win over Springfield that signaled Marple’s arrival, then 28 in a 2-1 loss to Haverford just ahead of the playoffs. Beatty made 25 saves in a 7-2 win over West Chester Henderson in the Flyers Cup before missing their ouster against Lower Dauphin due to injury. Beatty is Marple’s first hockey All-Delco since defenseman Matt Taxin in 2010.

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