Chartiers Valley's Cullen McMahon in midst of all-star season
The Hampton Talbots found out firsthand why Chartiers Valley's Cullen McMahon was selected to the PIHL All-Star game.
McMahon scored two goals 26 seconds apart in the first period and assisted an Anthony Franks goal in the second frame to help the Colts battle from behind for a 5-3 win last week.
“I thought we came out pretty hard,” McMahon said. “We went down but were able to pop back real quick and get a couple goals. It worked out well.
“We didn't get down on ourselves and were able to stick with it for the win.”
It was just another strong performance for the junior forward in the midst of an all-star season. McMahon is second in points for the Colts and in Class AA with 49 points — behind Franks' 51. His 33 goals are the classification's best by seven.
McMahon knew he was going to have to step his game up coming into the season. The Colts lost Justin Sabilla to graduation and with him lost 53 of their goals. To prepare for the season, McMahon said he worked out throughout the offseason and practiced on the ice four or five times a week.
“When you lose a goal scorer like Justin Sabilla, you got to step it up,” McMahon said. “I wanted to come in and get a lot more points. I wouldn't be anywhere without my linemate, Anthony Franks.”
Having the top two scores in the classification has been a catalyst for the Colts' success. The Colts average nearly seven goals, the best in Class AA.
The high-octane attack has helped the Colts to a 10-3-1 record. Chartiers Valley's 21 points are tied for third-best in Class AA.
“The chemistry they are building together is special to watch,” Chartiers Valley coach Sean Biancaniello said. “Just to think they are both juniors, and what they are accomplishing now is amazing.
“I told them, ‘If you guys figure out the game now, the sky is the limit for you in high school hockey.' They have been a driving part of our success.”
Biancaniello said he knew coming in McMahon was going to be one of the players leading the team.
“One of the thing we have wanted to teach him is to be less predictable with the puck,” Biancaniello said. “Last year he would like to fly down on his left wing off the wing. It was very predictable, and everyone knew he would fly wide. He is learning to play inside-out and to dump and chase. His game is much more dynamic and a reason his goals are going through the roof.”
Points are up across the board for the Colts. In addition to McMahon and Frank, Tyler Stevenson has seen his points jump from 14 at the end of last season to 18 this year.
Defenseman Robert Ferrari already has surpassed last season's total by one, and Kevin Kocak has more than doubled his point total from last campaign.
The distributed scoring was a priority for Biancaniello when he took over in the offseason. Losing a dynamic scorer like Sabilla, through which the Colts ran their offense, was huge blow.
“We talked extensively from the beginning of and through the season about having a much more spread-out offense,” Biancaniello said. “The players are embracing it and are finding their roles on the team.”
McMahon credited the team's success to the change in style.
“When (Biancaniello) came in, he wanted to make the team a lot more teamwork-oriented,” McMahon said. “Last year we tried to get Sabilla the puck.
“The change has helped the team get better chemistry and has made us work harder.”
The change in philosophy led to McMahon and four other Colts being named to the PIHL Class AA Southwest Conference All-Star team. Franks, defensemen Sean Brkovich and Tyler Stevenson and goalie Noah Stevenson were named to the team.
A possible sixth Chartiers Valley player could play in the game as Ferrari was named as an alternative. Biancaniello will coach the squad.
The game will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Robert Morris Island Sports Complex.
“It is a great feeling,” McMahon said. “I am proud of myself and my teammates. I wouldn't be anywhere without them.”
The Colts will face Montour tomorrow on the road at 7:50 p.m. at the Airport Ice Arena. Chartiers Valley defeated the Spatans, 12-1, earlier this season with McMahon finishing with five goals and an assist.
Chartiers Valley will then return to the Mt. Lebanon Ice Rink to take on rival Bishop Canevin. The puck drops at 9:10 p.m.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.