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Chartiers Valley teammates lighting the lamp in Class AA hockey

| Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 8:30 p.m.
Chartiers Valley senior Cullen McMahon has six goals and five assists so far this season.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Chartiers Valley's Anthony Franks (12) and Robert Thomas celebrate a goal by Cullen McMahon during a game against Hampton earlier this season at Mt. Lebanon Ice Arena.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Chartiers Valley's Cullen McMahon works against Hampton's Zachary Twerdok during a game earlier this season at Mt. Lebanon Ice Arena.

It's difficult to determine who deserves more pity: Cullen McMahon's and Anthony Franks' prom dates or those who try to defend the Chartiers Valley hockey team's prolific scoring pair.

Not only do McMahon and Franks seem to routinely — and sometimes magnificently — find each other on the ice, their love for hockey tends to create a few awkward moments as well.

“Last year at prom, we saw each other,” Franks said. “Everybody was on the dance floor. I walked over to get a drink, and we started talking about how we lost in the semis and it was going to be better next year.”

That couldn't have gone over well, no?

“My girlfriend is used to it,” Frank answered. “His is the same way. They just laugh. They shake their heads, look at each other and smile because they're like, ‘Oh my God. Here we go.'

“They just accept it at this point because they know there's no changing it.”

There's also been no stopping it. Sure, Chartiers Valley has seen its role players develop during a stretch in which the Colts (9-6) won five of six, but Franks and McMahon rank among the best in Class AA scoring with 97 combined points through 15 games.

Franks has 21 goals and 51 points, McMahon 25 goals and 46 points.

“I've coached them since they were in sixth grade all the way through their senior year,” Chartiers Valley coach Sean Biancaniello said. “I have a close rapport with them. It's been fun to see them grow as people and hockey players.”

McMahon will typically center Chartiers Valley's top line, flanked by Franks and Robert Thomas. As with any good line, McMahon said communication and a healthy understanding of each other's game has been key.

“Nobody knows each other like I know him and he knows me,” McMahon said. “Nobody knows our style of play better. We always know what the other one is going to do.”

Franks said the pair found trouble in English class last week for scanning PIHL stats and standings and analyzing possible playoff scenarios. When McMahon's family comes in to Bob Evans, where Franks waits tables, they'll even talk hockey.

“It's a lifestyle,” Franks said. “It grows a part of you.”

After losing eight seniors from a team that finished 15-5-1 and lost to Latrobe in the PIHL AA Penguins Cup Class AA semifinals, Chartiers Valley struggled to find an identity early, opening 4-5.

But as younger players matured, the Colts won five in a row before falling to Erie Cathedral Prep on Thursday.

Pivotal has been the play of Chartiers Valley senior's captain, defenseman Tyler Stevenson (seven goals, 18 points), along with second-line scorer Alex Stevenson (seven goals, 15 points).

Ben Hartman has excelled at power forward alongside Alex Stevenson and Derek Falcioni (12 points). Alexander Chabala (9-5, 3.86 GAA) has seen the majority of time in goal.

“If you look at the stats, you might think that McMahon and Franks are the only offense we have,” Biancaniello said. “Those numbers might speak to that, but, as a coaching staff, we know that it's the role players who are winning us games.”

Tough to argue with that.

But Franks and McMahon sure are giving fans and opposing teams plenty to talk about, not to mention each other.

“We're always talking,” McMahon said. “Nobody communicates better than me and Anthony.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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