Chartiers Valley hockey to lean on experienced defensemen in early going

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Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 11:27 PM


It wasn’t the way the Chartiers Valley hockey team wanted to start the season — a 4-0 loss to South Fayette.

But for coach Paul Bonetti, the score told only part of the story for the Colts. Despite contending with a combination of inexperience and injuries, Chartiers Valley battled the Lions to a scoreless game heading into the third period.

“We fought really hard,” Bonetti said. “We had a lot of inexperienced players playing one of the best teams in the league, and I think we came out and punched them in the mouth. We outshot them in the first period. Our young guys just got tired, and the score grew.”

The calling card for the Colts this season should be their defensive play. The team returns four defensemen who gained experience last season. Senior Trevor Stevenson was an all-star selection last season and finished the year with seven goals and eight assists.

“He is our captain,” Bonetti said. “I have been here three years, and he has been on the varsity team each year. He is one of the best defensemen in the league.”

The team also returns senior defensemen Daniel Phillips, Nathan Kramer and Adam Weiss.

“Having four returning defensemen helped keep the score close with South Fayette,” Bonetti said. “As long as you can keep it close, you can have a fast break here or a fluky goal there. And then anything can happen.”

Another force that will help keep games close is goalkeeper Josh Griffith. While he is only a sophomore, Griffith is battle-tested after playing in eight games last season and racking up 152 saves for an 89.9 save percentage.

Griffith made 33 saves in the season-opener.

“He has gotten bigger, more mature and is in better shape,” Bonetti said. “When you have strong goaltending, you can be competitive in our league. He is only a sophomore, but everyone from the seniors down are comfortable with him in front of the net.”

The Colts are still trying to find their identity on offense. The team returns only a handful of forwards who saw extended time on the ice with the varsity squad last season.

Matt Storar is the team’s top returning point producer but is battling an early-season injury. The senior was an all-star selection last year and finished with 11 goals and seven assists.

“What he brings is a scoring threat any time he is on the ice,” Bonetti said. “He can put the team on his shoulders. And as a senior, I think he has accepted that.”

Luke Vaughn also returns. The junior finished last season with 13 goals and four assists. Sophomore Jackson Fodor is looking for an extended role this season.

“He is working on developing more of a scoring touch,” Bonetti said. “He tries harder than anyone on the team. And I think the guys see that, and it increases their energy level.”

Chartiers Valley has reached the postseason each of the first two years under Bonetti’s guidance but has yet to win a playoff game. Now the team is looking to make some noise in the postseason.

“The bare minimum is to make the playoffs,” Bonetti said. “We want to win a round this year. Anytime you get in the playoffs, anything can happen.”

Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.

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