Pittsburgh Hockey Digest


2019 USA Hockey High School Nationals: Zelonka leads Burrell to the title game

STRONGSVILLE, Oh. — The Burrell Bucs defeated the Newark Generals 8-4 at OBM Arena on Sunday and are now headed to the 2019 USAHockey High School Division-II National Championship game.

Senior forward Dylan Zelonka was front and center, firing home a natural hat-trick in the second period, as well as adding two more late in the stanza. The goals weren’t of the cheap variety, as the playmaker made several acrobatic moves with his second being the most impressive- A forehand, backhand deke around the defenseman that he finished on the backhand- in mid-air.

“I lost it a little when I poked it ahead,” Zelonka explained. “I saw the goalie come out, so I decided to pull it to my backhand. I tried not to hit the goaltender, I didn’t want to hurt him, so I jumped over him.”

The Bucs also received two goals from Stewart, whose third period backhand through traffic led many people to wonder how he pulled off the feat.

Nathan Smith added a goal late on a four-on-four to seal the victory.

Newark received goals from Austin Branham, Reese Towbridge, Cody Hammack and Jack Bortle.

Drew Burkett started for the Bucs and gave up the first two goals, but was replaced late by Austin Schueler as the game started to get out of hand.

Ryley Passwaters started for Newark and stopped 21-of-29 in the loss.


After the loss to Ringgold in the Division-2 Championship last week, the Bucs regrouped and simplified their game. Coach Max Rickard focused on a key point- special teams.

“We have to play Burrell hockey,” Rickard explained. “We have enough talent up front, we have a solid defensive core, our issue is that we are our own worst enemy. We have to stay out of the box, quit chirping the ref. If we can stay out of the box, we can beat every team. I think we did the math- of our 22 goals so far, 14 were on special teams. That’s a huge part in hockey games, so that’s what needs to happen.”


The high-scoring affair saw twelve goals scored in the entirety of the game- something you wouldn’t have believed after a scoreless first frame that saw the two teams combine for thirteen shots – a number that both teams would match or surpass in the second individually.

Rickard saw a weakness in the Generals system and pounced on it.

“Both teams came out very slow. Obviously we had a game earlier this morning, and they had a game earlier this morning so we cant use that as an excuse. We came out flat in the first period, and I told them that we need to step up, we need to work hard and get pucks behind their [defense], and the goals will come”


Dylan Zelonka finished the regular season with 60 points, and had eleven over the three games he competed in during the Division-2 postseason.

His six assists in the first four games of the tournament were ample support for his teammates, however it was Zelonka who felt that he needed to step up.

“Obviously I was in a rut there,” Zelonka stated. “Not scoring, the bounces weren’t going right for me. I had to pay Tyler Stewart back for carrying us against Omaha, he scored six points for us and I had to score a couple this game.”

The Bucs will face Boulder/Monarch for the National Championship on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at OBM Arena in Strongsville.

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