HERSHEY — The Shamrocks will lose a decent chunk of their senior core — seven to be exact.
However, two of the their vital assets remain.
Riley Johnson, a Trinity junior who surpassed 200 points this season, and Jack Straub, a Camp Hill freshman who looks like the next iteration of Johnson, will be back to help lead the team — hopefully back to a CPIHL Rothrock Division Championship after falling 6-4 to Cedar Crest on Saturday.
Taking a page out of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ nickname book, Johnson and Straub look like a younger duo of the “two-headed monster.”
Well, the two agree that they’re their own version of the phrase.
“I think we’re considered the two-headed monster,” Johnson said with a chuckle from Hersheypark Arena.
There’s a reason for it.
The two are one-two on the team in goals and points. This season Johnson racked up 51 goals and 85 points, while Straub sits No. 2 with 17 goals and 43 points.
Johnson (10 goals, 16 points in the postseason) tallied one goal and two assists in the final with Straub (four goals, eight points) scoring the team’s first two goals.
Together on a line, Johnson and Straub are a force.
“Looking back at that unit [with] Lance [Coffey], Riley and Jack, that’s just a unit,” Shamrocks head coach A.J. Carr said. “It’s nice to be able to have almost a Riley 2 with Jack because he goes out and does the same things. When heat is on Riley, Jack is right there to pick it up. From that end, the two-headed monster idea works.”
The two feed off of each other on the ice, but with Johnson taking on the captaincy last season there’s a slight difference between the two. Straub seems more reserved and quiet, while Johnson has found his voice and is more outspoken off the ice.
The differences work, however.
“In practice and in games he gives me advice,” Straub said. “[That advice] is priceless and it helps me get better.”
“It was so much fun,” Johnson said about the arrival of Straub. “I’m very, very glad that he came in. As a freshman he’s got a lot of potential, and since last year when we lost two linemates to Red Land, I’m glad to get him so that I have someone to play with that is at the same level as I am.”
The leadership and guidance from Johnson helped Straub come in and pretty much fit right in with the way Johnson’s line plays and how the Shamrocks style of play is.
To a degree, Johnson can help make anyone around him play better.
“Riley’s got a lot of experience in the CPIHL, so it’s pretty easy to play with him,” Straub said. “He makes a lot of big plays.”
Those big plays have become a nuisance for opponents, but a blessing for the Shamrocks, who also lost a good chunk of their roster prior to the season to the newly formed West Shore team (Red Land and Cedar Cliff players).
As for the similarities for the two, they’re astounding. Speed and stick-handling are the aspects that stick out the most, but Johnson said they also both have great vision.
Most opponents have to prepare hard to go against the Straub-Johnson-Coffey line. All three of them know it.
“They definitely want to keep an eye on us,” Johnson said. “I think they put their best players against us to match lines. But [even when] they get one of us, they get both of us. We can dish the puck to anyone, so teams have to look out for both of us, not just one of us.”
And teams will have to keep looking out next season. It’s this duo that already has the Shamrocks hopeful for a return to the Old Barn, and a better outcome.
“We [lose] some good seniors and hopefully we have some good people coming in,” Straub said. “I think we’re gonna come off a good note from making it all the way to the finals this year.”