Chartiers Valley hockey battling back from slow start
The Chartiers Valley hockey team entered the season with a Penguins Cup and state title on its mind.
But only a couple of games into the season, the Colts had a losing record after suffering demoralizing setbacks to Bishop Canevin, Latrobe and Hampton.
Chartiers Valley has shown signs of life as it has won three of its last four games over Franklin Regional, North Hills and Latrobe — a 6-0 win for the Colts last week.
“The way we started out was unacceptable,” senior forward Anthony Franks said. “We said going into the break after the win over North Hills that the rest of the season we are going to step on the gas and really show what CV hockey is about and how well we can play.”
The defending state champion had no answer for how to stop the Colts' attack. Cullen McMahon and Franks put the Colts ahead 2-0 in the first period.
Robert Thomas, Derek Falcioni and Franks added goals in the second to give their squad a 5-0 lead entering intermission.
Franks completed the hat trick with 10:23 to go in the third period as the Colts glided to a win.
“It was a total team effort,” Chartiers Valley coach Sean Biancaniello said. “Our goal was to control Latrobe's speed through the neutral zone with the trap we had in place, and it worked to perfection. I really credit the system execution for the win.”
The shutout was the third of the season for goalkeeper Alex Chabala as he made 24 saves.
It was the second game of the season between the squads as Latrobe skated away with a 6-3 win Nov. 11.
Franks finished the game as the points leader in Class AA with 38. McMahon is close behind with 37. Tyler Stevenson has 14, and Falcioni and Alex Stevenson each have 12.
The change in fortunes for Chartiers Valley has come from its veteran presence. With 10 seniors on roster, the Colts had the maturity to stay patient through the early rough patch,
“We all have been playing together since we were in sixth, seventh and eighth grade,” Chabala said. “We know where each other is on the ice, and that has led to many of our wins. We are starting to pick up momentum with playoffs around the corner.”
The win last week gave the Colts 12 points. Chartiers Valley now trails Bishop Canevin (20), Armstrong (16), Erie Cathedral Prep (16), Hampton (14) and Plum (16) in Class AA.
“We now see every game as a must-win,” Biancaniello said. “Whether it is Canevin, Moon or Franklin Regional, we know every game is there to move us up in the league and get us ready for playoffs.”
With a favorable schedule on the horizon — games against Hampton (7-5), Moon (4-8), Plum (6-3-2) and West Allegheny (3-8) — the Colts will have the chance to right the ship and refocus on their ultimate goal.
“A state championship is all that matters to us,” Franks said “That is always the goal no matter how many times we are down. Our goal at CV hockey is always to win a state championship.”
Chartiers Valley returns to the ice at 8:30 tonight, Thursday, as it travels to Moon.