Young Chartiers Valley hockey team rounding into form in time for playoff push

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Thursday, December 28, 2017 | 11:00 PM


When the 2017-18 PIHL season started, Chartiers Valley coach Paul Bonetti knew his team might take a little time to get going.

The Colts graduated a significant portion of the team that qualified for the PIHL Class A playoffs last season, so it would be up to younger players to mature in a hurry. Those players are maturing, and Chartiers Valley is finding its form at the right time.

After a 1-6 start, CV won three of its final four games — including a 5-2 decision over rival South Fayette — before the holiday break. The Colts (4-7) look to continue their turnaround when they return to action Thursday against Indiana (8-2).

“We're starting to come into our own right now,” Bonetti said. “I think except for (an 8-2 loss to West Allegheny on Oct. 16), we were in all the games, even though the scores might not always show it.

“It's just been consistency over the course of the entire game. Sometimes we start slow. Sometimes we start fast. It's just inexperience coming through.”

The biggest area of improvement has come on defense. Bonetti said he changed the team's defensive structure to cut down on the number of odd-man breaks opponents were getting.

The renewed commitment to defense was most evident in the final game before the holidays, when Chartiers Valley held Norwin to nine shots on goal in a 5-1 victory. Chartiers Valley easily could have entered the break on a four-game winning streak had it not squandered a 3-0 first-period lead in a 5-3 loss to Deer Lakes.

“We played really good teams at the beginning,” said senior assistant captain Michael Sedlak, the team's leading scorer with 19 points (12 goals, 7 assists). “I think it was really impressive we beat South Fayette, 5-2. We were in the right positions, and we knew what we were doing the whole time.

“Once we started to get to know everything, we started to compete.”

Sedlak is among the veterans who have been showing the way for the young Colts. He has a goal in eight of the 11 games and has three multiple-goal games.

Junior Matt Storar ranks second on the team with 12 points (7 goals), and fellow junior Cameron Stevenson has six goals, including one in each of the three victories before the holiday layoff. Junior defenseman Trevor Stevenson has three goals — including the winner against Greensburg Salem — and three assists.

Among the younger players, sophomore forward Caleb Stevenson has two goals and five assists, and sophomore forward Luke Vaughn ranks fourth on the team with five goals.

With nine games remaining, Chartiers Valley sits 15th in the 21-team Class A standings. The top 12 teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Despite the slow start, the Colts have plenty of time to make up ground and get into the postseason. Bonetti said he believes if they continue to play the way they did to close 2017, the new year will bring more wins.

“I had a conversation with our guys that if we can string a few wins and make the playoffs, anything can happen,” he said. “I've seen a lot of big upsets in the playoffs.”

Added Sedlak: “I think the younger guys have been shaping up really well. … We just need to keep playing how we've been playing. We need to play hockey the right way and with the right mindset.”

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at ccurti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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