CEDAR GROVE, NJ — As a new season begins with its own set of unique challenges the Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove Ice Hockey Team is taking a realistic approach to their expectations.

:I’m just looking forward to getting these guys out on the ice, no real expectations except keeping everybody safe, avoiding the injury bug and get these kids skating,” said Head Coach Eric Fleischmann.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit, this year will be different than most with a little more than half the games being played this year. Additionally, given the fact most of the team has been quarantined with a deficiency in their usual training the squad will undoubtedly experience some fatigue.

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“I think conditioning is going to be a factor early on, it’s going to take a few weeks to get everybody up to speed,” said Fleischmann.

While the team is not near where they’d like to be the group has taken tremendous strides in their development in such a short time together.

“Practices have been good, but some players are dragging [because] everybody is used to being home, no physical education, there’s not a lot for these kids to do,” said Fleischmann.

This year defensively senior Captain Vincent Giovanelli will lead the Hornets. Last year Giovanelli tallied six points from the blue line, which included a game-winning goal.

[Giovanelli] is looking forward to stepping in and playing a big role,” said Fleischmann.

Standout defenders Matt O’Donnell and Matt Vuolo will join Giovanelli along the blue line. The tandem was able to collect a combined 13 goals and 13 assists last year for PVCG.

“I’m very happy about that unit, hopefully they can hold up…I feel very confident with those guys at the blue line,” said Fleischmann.

In net for PVCG will be freshman Dave Lombardi. While inexperienced at the varsity level, Lombardi has shown tremendous ability that prove he can hang with the elder statesmen on the team and in the conference.

“[Lombardi] should be pretty good…I’m sure there will be a little learning curve for him as a freshman. He’s got a step up, and we’ll be relying on him as the season goes,” said Fleischmann.

On the attack hungry youngsters Zach Giuffrida and Lukas Zimovak  will be expected to contribute significantly this year. The two forwards combined last year for 16 goals and 22 assists.

“We’re looking for them to pick up the scoring for [our previous seniors],” said Fleischmann.   

Rounding out the group of key forwards is senior Colin Kaleda, junior Gavin Kael, sophomore Ryan Kratz  and freshman newcomer Colin Healy.                 

The Hornets are readying for a challenge right out of the gate with three tough games in just four days, beginning with the opener Friday night against Northern Valley/Old Tappan.