Fox Chapel hockey team ready for full season
After not having a team last season because of a player shortage, the Fox Chapel hockey team is ready to hit the ice for a full season.
The team will be coached by Rick Villani, who was instrumental in scheduling a three-game season in last year.
“Halfway through last season, we made a strong effort to at least get a partial season in,” Villani said. “Phone calls were made to the players we had, and they were all for it. So we played three games and we won all three. It generated a lot of interest for this season.”
Not having a team, Villani said, created a void for players, coaches and parents.
“We went to work to ensure that we would have a team this year,” Villani said.
Fox Chapel will have a varsity team and two middle school teams.
“At the varsity level, we'll have 20-24 players. We didn't have enough to have a JV team, so everyone will play on the varsity,” Villani said. “There's a lot of varsity players that obviously don't have a lot of experience, so we've scheduled some 16-and-under scrimmages where we'll only play the younger kids. That way, they'll gain some valuable experience.
“We won't invite the more experienced players to these scrimmages, and they understand what we're doing.”
It took a lot of hard work to get a team back on the ice.
“There were a lot of emails sent and a lot of word-of-mouth,” he said. “We got a lot of help from the hockey parents and the school board. There's been a great feedback. We've had a great tradition, and we wanted to salvage the program. The response has been excellent.”
The Foxes will compete in PIHL Class AAA again this year.
“We're a little behind right now as far as scheduling, but we'll be practicing twice a week,” Villani said. “It's time to get Fox Chapel hockey back on the map. To that extent, we're going to build from the ground up. We want to have strong middle school programs, and we want to be competitive at every level.
“We've got some excellent coaches who have made the commitment to build a hockey program that the community can be proud of.”
Bo Schwabb will be the middle school coach.
“He's a great young man who's very knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” Villani said. “Dan Lagiovale, who was with me at Shady Side Academy, will be the assistant coach, and Glen Miske, a hockey parent, will also be helping us coach at various levels.
“We're excited, we're optimistic and we're ready to start playing some hockey.”
Marty Stewart is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.