Development of young Chartiers Valley players provides optimism for future

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Saturday, February 19, 2022 | 11:01 AM


What a difference a goal or two would have made for the Chartiers Valley hockey team.

No team in the PIHL had more overtime or shootout losses then the Colts, who also were near the top in the league in one-goal losses.

“We would definitely like to have swapped outcomes on those games,” Chartiers Valley coach Paul Bonetti said. “Our team is the youngest in our league. Most nights, 60% of our team is comprised of freshmen and sophomores. It’s just been some inexperience coming through in the form of some mistakes at inopportune times.”

The young Colts suffered through a pair of five-game losing streaks this season. However, when you look at those 10 losses, half of them were by one goal while three others were two-goal losses.

“Our confidence has only improved as the year has progressed,” Bonetti said. “Despite our record, the team has improved tremendously over the course of this season. We are giving the best teams in our classification all they can handle most nights and a more seasoned team wins those close games.”

Chartiers Valley (4-8-0-3) didn’t lose all of its close games in the Class A Southwest Division. Bonetti pointed out a pair of 7-6 wins over North Catholic and Norwin as notable wins for the Colts.

“Beating a pair of first-place teams was great for the team,” he said. “Observing the emergence and progression of some young players such as (freshman) Brady Nairn, who are going to be very important contributors moving forward, have been great.”

While the Colts have turned to a lot of underclassmen this season, they once leaned on senior Greg Kraemer, who led the team in goals, assists and points.

“Greg is the straw that stirs the drink,” Bonetti said. “We won one game because he put the team on his back and scored four goals, including one of the best I’ve seen in years. He has been a pleasure to coach over the last four years.”

Another senior really stood out as well for Bonetti, doing a lot of unsung hero things on the ice that helps a team compete.

“Tommy Phillips has been the unsung hero on our team for the past two years. He plays on our top line, power play and is our No. 1 penalty killer,” Bonetti said. “He does all the little things we ask of him, is always in the right position on the ice, blocks shots and gives the most consistent effort of anybody on the team.”

While the victories turned out to be few and far between, this was far from a lost season for the Chartiers Valley hockey program.

“This year was all about development and growth not just for the team, but for me as a coach,” Bonetti said. “We will be ready to play in 2022-23.”

With so many young Colts getting plenty of ice time this season, there is plenty to be excited about for Chartiers Valley hockey next year as they plan to shoot for the stars and titles.

“We have tremendous talent at the eighth-grade level at CV,” Bonetti said. “These players will be coming up and added into the mix next year. Our belief is that if the current group of freshmen and sophomores stick with the program and continue their growth as players, then we can achieve our goal of winning another state championship at Chartiers Valley within two years.”

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