Simko puts himself on path to set Butler hockey record
BUTLER TWP — Records are made to be broken.
Butler varsity hockey's career goal-scoring record may soon be shattered — courtesy of junior right wing Brody Simko.
Through 12 games this season, Simko has tallied 14 goals and 16 assists, averaging 2.5 points per game while anchoring the Golden Tornado's top line. He has scored 42 goals in his three varsity seasons.
John Turner holds the varsity record of 55 goals.
“I believe Brody can break that record this season, then shatter it next year,” first-year Butler coach Nick Minton said. “That's the challenge we've put in front of him.”
With seven regular season games remaining — and possibly the PIHL playoffs afterward — Simko accepts that challenge.
“I feel like I can get there,” he said. “I averaged about a goal per game last year and I'm getting a lot of (scoring) opportunities this year.
“My linemates do a lot of the dirty work in setting me up for shots.”
Simko plays on a line with Kyle Grasha (11 goals, 6 assists) and Parker Worsley (9 goals, 7 assists). They are the top three scorers on the team.
Besides leading the team in scoring, Simko has played center at times, along with defense when the situation has called for it.
“Brody volunteers to do that,” Minton said of playing defenseman. “The kid just wants to win hockey games. He's a coach's player. We move him around a lot.”
He played a major role in helping the Tornado secure a critical 6-5 overtime win over Montour recently. Sinmko scored five goals and added an assist. Three of his goals were unassisted, the first occurring 11 seconds into the game.
Butler trailed 5-3 entering the third period before Simko scored two more goals, the second tying the game with 13 seconds left. He then scored the game-winner with 1:10 left in overtime.
“We swept Montour this season and that's big because we're battling them for the fourth playoff spot in our division,” Minton said.
Butler is competing in Class AA this year. The Tornado enter Monday night's game at Penn-Trafford with a 5-7 overall record, 5-3 in division play, fiormly entrenched in the division's final playoff spot.
“I've had one or two games like that before,” Simko recalled. “Scoring the winner in overtime is an awesome feeling.”
At 5-foot-11 and over 200 pounds, Simko is a sizable high school winger. But he's not the guy who stands in front of the net and wreaks havoc on the opposing goaltender while deflecting shots into the net.
“That's not his game,” Minton said. “Brody likes to play in the high slot, make plays along the boards. He's a natural goal scorer. He's a fast skater for a big kid.
“Almost all of his goals went top shelf (in the Montour game). He has a wicked shot.”
Simko said he relies “on my hockey IQ” to get in position to score goals.
“I love hockey. I've been playing since I was 3 years old,” he added.
Playing for the Esmark Stars in New Kensington last season, Simko made the North American Prospect League All-Star Game. He scored more than 20 goals for Esmark along with playing for Butler.
Simko is hopeful of moving on to junior hockey, then playing in college.
“I know I have to keep getting faster with my skating and improve my defensive play,” he said of getting to the next level.
Minton, a 2008 Seneca Valley graduate, previously coached at West Allegheny before moving on to Chartiers Valley as an assistant.
When he saw the Butler job was open, he went after it.
“I knew what kind of talent was here,” Minton said. “Brody was at the top of that list.”