ShareThis Page

Thunder hockey team wraps up unbeaten season

| Thursday, March 8, 2012

The year didn't start off well for the Mon Valley Thunder Pee Wee hockey team.

The collection of 11- and 12-year olds were roughed up during a pair of preseason placement games.

"With nine new players and two losses like that, our outlook was not very optimistic," coach Jon Bilski said.

Little did the first-year coach realize that know that four months later he would be on the bench watching 16 kids celebrate like they won the Stanley Cup after an improbable shootout victory to win the Pennsylvania Amateur Hockey League Division playoffs Sunday.

The Thunder finished with a 21-0-1 record and a pair of banners — an A Minor Gold Division season and playoff banner.

"We had a great year," Bilski said. "We had a bunch of new skaters and the new skaters played really well for us, but that final game was amazing."

The Thunder, whose roster has kids from Elizabeth, Jefferson, Pleasant Hills and Belle Vernon and plays their home games at Rostraver Ice Garden, rolled through the regular season. They went 17-0-1 playing teams as far away as State College.

In the playoffs, Mon Valley rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat fourth-seeded Lawrence in the semifinals and advance to the title game against South Hills.

Tied, 2-2, after regulation, the teams didn't score in two overtime periods, leaving it up to a shootout.

After the Thunder's Nikita Sidun scored to lead off the shootout, nobody else could find the back of the net.

"We had a couple of big guns in there that got shut down," Bilski said.

And when Ty Barkley stopped the fifth and final South Hills shootout attempt, Mon Valley completed its unbeaten season.

"It was crazy," Bilski said. "The gloves and sticks were everywhere. That's huge for the kids."

The Thunder will play together one final time this weekend in a tournament in Rochester, N.Y.

"It becomes somewhat of an addicting sport," Bilski said. "It is such a great sport once you get into it. A lot of us parents fall in love with it, too. It becomes your lifestyle for four or five months."

Team members are: Joshua Kane, Ethan Weisser, Nicholas Boulanger, Samuel Gonzales, Matt Hickey, Jacon Weiss, Casey Bilski, Shaelyn Mooney, Nikita Sidun, Matthew Bertok, Seth Ruby, Alexei Becinski, Tyrik Barkley, Ean Brodine, William Eson, Daniel Swart and Brendan Wargo.

"It was a great accomplishment by a bunch of kids who love to play hockey," Bilski said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.