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With veteran team, Farmington Valley hockey team has big goals for 2018

Farmington Valley’s Kyle Kadziolka (5) gets the puck past Conard goalie Shea Henderson in Wednesday night’s win at Avon Old Farms.

AVON, December 20 – Four years ago, the Farmington Valley Generals won just three of 20 games with a young group of skaters. In 2016, the co-op team improved enough to win the CCC South tournament championship.

A year ago, they repeated the feat and got even better. They went 16-4 in the regular season and won 11 of 12 games to win a second CCC South championship. The Generals got as far as the CIAC Division II quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Guilford.

This winter, with 11 seniors on the roster, the Generals are aiming higher. They have eyes on winning a CIAC Division II state championship and another CCC pennant. But it won’t be easy.

The Generals have a tougher schedule this year. They’ve moved into the CCC North with the largest schools in the CCC that play hockey and schools with great hockey tradition – Simsbury, Glastonbury, South Windsor, Conard, Northwest Catholic and East Catholic.

They’re ready for the challenge. “Their experience” is one of their biggest strengths, said co-coach Scott Percival, an Avon High teacher. “They’ve been together for 60 games (three years) of competition. They can pretty much put themselves into position to fight back and win games,” Percival said.

Farmington Valley’s Patrick Noble (13) carries the puck toward the net in Wednesday night’s contest. The Generals beat Conard, 4-1.

The Generals have gotten off to a strong start this season. They improved to 2-0 on Wednesday night with a 4-1 victory over Conard, dominating for most of the contest, seldom losing possession of the puck and putting nearly 50 shots on net.

“It shows you what can happen if the kids stay with the program,” Percival said.

Farmington Valley is a co-op team with players primarily from Farmington and Avon. There are three players from Lewis Mills on the squad along with one player from Windsor. Long-time Farmington coach Mike Barone and Percival split the coaching duties equally.

Senior All-State forward Tim Arena (Farmington) is back. He led the state in scoring a year ago with 73 points. Defenseman Peter Hoffman (Avon) was second team All-State and he returns along with senior goalie Ryan Bellucci (Avon), who has started game for three years.

Arena scored two goals on Wednesday night at Avon Old Farms to lead the Generals. Marco Bernasconi (Avon) and Kyle Kadziolka (Mills) also scored for Farmington Valley with Matt Arena (Farmington) and Jake Percival (Avon) getting two assists each. Bellucci made 24 stops in net to pick up his first win of the season.

Peter Hoffman (9, left) loses his edge against Conard’s William McDonald (16) in Wednesday night’s game at Avon Old Farms.

Farmington Valley rolled over East Haven in their opener with a 6-0 victory. Goalie Trevor Paluso (Avon) got the win in net. Eric Scweheitzer (Avon), Owen Lacourciere (Mills) and Jake Percival (Avon) each had goals for the Generals while Matt Arena had two goals.

The Generals return to the ice after Christmas. They travel to the International Skating Center in Simsbury to face Northwest Catholic at 7:10 p.m. before hosting Glastonbury at Avon Old Farms on Saturday, Dec. 30, at 1 p.m.

For Avon, this is the seventh year of the co-op with Farmington and Windsor. Mills joined the co-op in 2015. This is the third season for the Spartans in the co-op.

Farmington Valley 4, Conard 1
At Avon
Conard (0-2)                        0  0  1  — 1
Farmington Valley (2-0)       3  0  1  — 4
Goals: Tim Arena (FV) 2, Marco Bernasconi (FV), Kyle Kadziolka (FV), Cole Johnson (C); Saves: Shea Henderson (C) 46, Ryan Bellucci (FV) 24; Assists: Jake Percival (FV) 2, Matt Arena (FV) 2

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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