Keith Barnes, Tri-State Sports & News Service, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01-14-2024
Chartiers Valley is the last team in the PIHL this season with an unblemished record, so it’s not surprising that the Colts are enjoying the ride.
“It’s been fun. We’ve had some pretty good performances so far,” Chartiers Valley coach Paul Bonetti said. “We have a group this year that takes practice seriously. I think that’s important. We have full attendance, and I think that’s where you win your games.”
Winning hockey is not a new thing at Chartiers Valley. In 2021, the Colts played in the Class 1A Penguins Cup final and narrowly lost a 3-2 decision to Indiana despite the fact they went into the third period down three goals.
But over the last couple of seasons, Chartiers Valley has been down. The Colts missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons and only notched 12 wins in that time.
Already this year, Chartiers Valley has more than equaled its victory total from the last two seasons and has a 13-0 record. The Colts play in Class 1A.
Like most teams that reach this point in the season undefeated, Chartiers Valley has gotten here by being strong from the goal line out. And no one in the league has had a better year between the pipes than junior goaltender Matthew Colberg.
“He’s hyper-focused and he hates to give up goals,” Bonetti said. “It sounds simple to say, but he gets upset with himself when he lets in a goal, so he not only competes against the other team but against himself to see how good he can be.”
So far, he’s been nothing short of incredible.
In 11 starts, Colberg has stopped 165 of 175 shots for an astounding .943 save percentage. The all-star netminder has given up just 10 goals in 11 games for a PIHL-best goals-against average of 0.91 and leads the league with four shutouts.
“I think his competitive nature really helps him stop a lot of pucks and he’s sound positionally,” Bonetti said. “I’ve seen athletic goaltenders, but they don’t have the fundamentals, and I’ve seen goalies with the fundamentals that aren’t athletic. He’s both.”
Having a standout goaltender only helps if the defense does its job, and the Chartiers Valley blue line has been solid, led by sophomore PIHL all-star Tyler Held. The team will have to play without sophomore defenseman Joey DeAngelis as he recovers from a broken wrist, but the team has veteran depth with seniors Sean Taylor and Luke Hinds, junior Oscar Garcia, and sophomore Dylan Shamonsky.
“I think this is the deepest and strongest group of defensemen that I’ve seen in Class A this year,” Bonetti said. “They do a great job. We like to preach keeping shots to the outside and, with a goalie as good as Matthew, you need to get rebound goals on him or some kind of breakaway because you’re not going to beat him from bad angles.”
The full article can be found here.