Kiski Area varsity hockey team scraps upcoming season
Kiski Area's hockey team is putting its varsity season on ice.
“We just don't have enough guys to come out and play for us this season,” said Rich Wallace, president of the Kiski Area Cavaliers varsity hockey club. The team graduated eight seniors from this past season and has only five returning players. Help is on its way but not soon enough.
“We have an excellent developmental system, a heck of a good JV team and a few developmental leagues along with a good middle school team,” former coach Dave Warren said.
Warren, who stepped down after seven seasons, believes the Cavaliers again will become one of the region's most competitive teams when they return.
His replacement has yet to be named.
“Once they learn against the tougher opponents in junior varsity, they'll be able to come out in the long run as a more experienced team. In fact, they will be a championship contender,” Warren said.
So for now, Kiski's fans will have to focus on the younger players who will remain in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League and play against former PIHL champions State College and Latrobe.
“These kids will develop and learn how to hit and shoot,” Wallace said. “The kids are on the cusp of varsity level and honing their skill.”
A couple more games in the junior varsity league will not hurt their development. In fact, “they will be able to play against tougher opponents,” Wallace said.
The Cavaliers have been part of the PIHL's Class AA division for the past two years. Before that, the team was part of the Open Division for the six-year limit. While in the Open Division, Kiski won the Chiefs Cup twice, which is the conference championship for the PIHL.
The Cavaliers, who were 4-15 last season, will return to Class AA.
“We held open tryouts for the junior varsity team this past week,” Wallace said. “With any hope, we will have the season off and rolling in a winning fashion.”
With growing numbers at tryouts, it appears that the program could be alive and well for years to come.
“We will just have to put the right guys in the right spots, and we'll be fine,” junior varsity coach Jeremy Zvonkovich said.
Wallace expects the team to surpass expectations upon its return.
“You have to win to build championships,” Wallace said. “I definitely believe Kiski will be a force in hockey in the future.”
C.J. Biedka is a freelance writer.