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Freedom hockey joins Central Valley after Blackhawk goes pure

Senior+James+Kelly-Tindall+fights+towards+the+puck+at+the+game+on+Dec.+14+against+Connellsville.
Senior James Kelly-Tindall fights towards the puck at the game on Dec. 14 against Connellsville.

Senior James Kelly-Tindall fights towards the puck at the game on Dec. 14 against Connellsville.

Senior James Kelly-Tindall fights towards the puck at the game on Dec. 14 against Connellsville.

Kayla Eaton, Social Media Director

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After having a cooperative agreement for four years with Freedom, the Blackhawk Cougars closed its doors to Freedom players because of rules set by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL). This rule states that if a team has 12 or more players from the homeschool, they must end any cooperative agreements with other schools. Central Valley opened its doors to the four Freedom players in search of another team.

According to the PIHL, if a school has 12 or more players from the home school on the team, they must go pure and discontinue any cooperative agreements with other schools. Currently, the Cougars have 14 students playing on the team, which means they were forced to go pure.

After conversations with Athletic Director John Rosa, Freedom players decided to work with Central Valley. Central Valley currently welcomes players from Hopewell, New Brighton, Riverside and Beaver Falls.

Senior James Kelly-Tindall, juniors Samuel Romutis and Riley Adams and freshman Marc Evans joined the team of 26 for the 2017-2018 hockey season.

One issue Romutis brings up about switching teams is the amount of playing time Freedom kids get. There are 26 total Central Valley players including other schools, so Kelly-Tindall, Romutis, Adams and Evans get less ice time than they did with Blackhawk.

Switching teams ultimately resulted in new players, strategies and schedules, although they still play at the same rink. Central Valley requires the players to attend summer conditioning and more practices than they attended with Blackhawk.

On top of getting used to more practicing time, the players also had to make new bonds and friendships with the new team.

“We had off-season conditioning, so we kind of got to know others on the team, but it was sort of nerve-racking to basically walk onto another team and try to make friends and bonds,” Kelly-Tindall said.

Romutis mentions that switching teams makes high school hockey feel more like professional hockey, since NHL players are often traded. Although they’re on a new team, Romutis and Kelly-Tindall both remark that the game and goals are still the same.

Since Blackhawk is no longer a cooperative-agreement team, they were moved out of the D2 division to Varsity A. This means that Central Valley and Blackhawk will not cross paths.

According to Romutis, their eyes are still set on a championship win, even with a different team. “We have been improving a lot since the season started, but we still have a lot of work to do if we want to have a shot at going far in the playoffs,” Romutis said.

Even with the task of learning new techniques, working with new people and following a new schedule, the team was able to hold out against the undefeated, leading team in the division, Moon, letting in three of the 27 shots on goal during the game. Despite losing this game on Nov. 30, Central Valley was able to produce 17 shots on goal and block 89 percent of shots taken by the Moon Tigers.

“I think we will make playoffs but it’s going to be a tough ride to get there,” Kelly-Tindall concludes after reviewing their efforts and skillset thus far.

As of Dec. 7, the team holds a record of 3-6, placing them in the middle of the standings for their division.

In January, the team will play Trinity, Morgantown and Kennedy Catholic.

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Freedom hockey joins Central Valley after Blackhawk goes pure