Hockey rivals Bishop Canevin, Chartiers Valley unite for special cause

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Monday, March 15, 2021 | 1:04 PM


For the Bishop Canevin hockey team, curiosity about a picture hanging on a wall led to a heartwarming fundraiser and a great night of outdoor hockey.

On Feb. 15, the Crusaders and Chartiers Valley skated to a 4-4 tie at the South Park outdoor rink.

The game was played in honor of Lance Cpl. Ryan Kovacicek, a former Bishop Canevin hockey player, who was killed in 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The game raised $1,600.

“The kids saw a picture of Kovacicek in his Crusaders uniform in our trophy case and started asking questions about him,” Bishop Canevin hockey coach Eric Glover said. “The kids took the initiative to turn the outdoor game into an effort to raise money for (the Crabtree-Kovacicek Veterans House) in Washington.”

While the cause was a great one, the event almost didn’t happen because of issues with the outdoor rink at South Park.

“Hats off to the South Park officials for their efforts in making this event happen,” Glover said. “The rink is dealing with some county issues and, at first, they said no.”

This wasn’t just a Bishop Canevin thing. With the fundraising efforts attached, the Chartiers Valley players were all-in as well.

“Of course, the event honors Ryan Kovacicek, a marine and a former player at Bishop Canevin,” Chartiers Valley coach Paul Bonetti said. “This is something that I personally feel very strongly about, and we are proud and honored to help with this cause. We are very grateful to Bishop Canevin for this partnership.”

Kovacicek’s mother and sister were in attendance.

The exhibition contest between two first-place teams also allowed for a break from the rigors of a tough regular season for the Colts and Crusaders.

“First and foremost, our players loved this event,” Bonetti said. “I think both teams do. It was a perfect winter afternoon, and the bad weather held off until just after our game ended. I think that as coaches we push our players and emphasize winning every night during the regular season, and it’s really nice to break up the season with an exhibition. Without the pressure of having to win, the game becomes a reward and all of our players get good ice time while not worrying as much about the final outcome of the game.

“This game ended up in a tie, and I don’t think anybody was upset or disappointed. It was purely fun.”

This was the second straight year the two programs played an exhibition game, something Bonetti would like to see continuing.

“Chartiers Valley and Bishop Canevin have a deep-seeded rivalry and history dating back decades. When I played in the 1980s, the two schools routinely jockeyed for first place in our classification and our games were intensely fought in front of hundreds of fans,” he said. “Since we no longer participate in the same classification, I have an increased appreciation for watching these two schools play each other. So as fun as it is for the kids, I enjoy it just as much. This event is a great way to get these two storied programs back on the ice together.”

Glover is happy with his Crusaders play on the ice as they sit near the top of the Class B standings, but he is more proud of their efforts in this event and other fundraisers as well.

“We really have a bunch of great kids here at Bishop Canevin,” Glover said. “They found out about this Bishop Canevin graduate who was in need of a wheelchair and they raised the money for the lady to purchase a new wheelchair.”

The Crusaders hockey team also participated in a food drive for the Coraopolis food bank and plan to continue donating their time by distributing the food as needed.

Glover summed up the Crusaders off-ice efforts best when he said, “I’m thrilled to be coaching here.”

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