Back on the ice

Central Valley players bounce back after pandemic setbacks


Megan Evans

Freshman Chase Grable moves the puck up the ice for an opportunity to score for the Central Valley Warriors on Dec. 10.

Jessica Majors, Photo Editor

As most anticipated for the ball to drop in Times Square on Jan 1st, five Freedom hockey players waited for the puck to drop back on the ice to start off the year. Freedom’s co-op with the Central Valley Warriors allows for seniors Matthew Keller, Marc Evans and Jesse Nelson and freshmen Chase Grable and Aiden Pournaras to play hockey due to Freedom not having a team themself. The Central Valley Warriors hockey team also has players not only from Central Valley and Freedom, but from four different local school districts including Beaver Falls, New Brighton, Hopewell and Riverside.

Starting off the year with much anticipation, the Warriors’ first game was supposed to set off on Jan. 7 against the Carrick Cougars, but due to certain circumstances, the game was postponed until the end of the season.

After a long break of no competitive play, the Central Valley Warriors were able to put back on their skates and host the Elizabeth Forward Warriors on their home ice, Brady’s Run Ice Arena, on Jan. 14. With a late 9:05 p.m. tipoff, the Central Valley Warriors were able to hold a close game the whole way through until the second period. Then, Freedom’s senior Matthew Keller slashed one right past the Elizabeth Forward goaltender to put Central Valley back on the board. The score was 4-3 Elizabeth Forward. 

“I just crashed the net and found the loose puck and was able to get it past the goalie. With us being a young team, we try to capitalize on any chances and momentum, so we can improve each game!” Keller said. 

After Keller’s goal, the Central Valley Warriors wanted to put another one in the back of the net to tie the score up before the end of the second period. However, roughly two minutes after Keller’s goal, he and an Elizabeth Forward player got penalized for roughing.

“Just like in a lot of games, there are times that the game gets a little chippy. Basically, I checked a player in the open ice, and then I went into the corner for the loose puck, when me and an opposing player hit each other, causing a little skirmish. We both got called for roughing penalties. Sometimes when trying to work harder for your team, it may result in a penalty,” Keller said. 

After Keller’s goal, the team hit a roadblock and was not able to gain motivation as the Elizabeth Forward Warriors were able to bring in two more goals before the end of the second period. Being down 6-3, the Central Valley Warriors came out in the third period and could not overcome the Elizabeth Forward’s momentum, as they scored an additional four more goals. The Central Valley Warriors lost 10-4 to Elizabeth Forward. 

“With us being a young team we try to capitalize on any chances & momentum we can to improve each game!” Keller said.

After a tough loss, the Warriors take on the Connellsville Falcons on Jan. 21 at Brady’s Run Ice Arena for a 6:45 p.m. tipoff as they honor their seniors and all their accomplishments over the years. Being a senior, Keller has some advice for the underclassmen.

“Play hard, stick to the system we have and bring a positive attitude to every practice & game!” Keller said.