Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Erratic Bridgers Stick to the Plan

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Erratic Bridgers Stick to the Plan

Article excerpt

The Ambridge Bridgers do not have an extraordinary hockey history.

It is a team with only one winning record in 12 years as a varsity program, and with a 2-13 record that brings up the rear of the PIHL's Class AA West Division.

The Bridgers had won only nine games in the previous four seasons. There is no junior varsity program. And leading scorer Chas Cvitkovic is considering leaving the team to concentrate on playing for the Junior "B" Penguins.

But if the Bridgers are holding an ace, it's likely coach George Reed. Reed came up coaching developmental hockey to take over the reins of the prestigious Pine-Richland program from 2000-03.

While he'd be the first to tell you his players carried him more than he carried them, Reed did coach the likes of Kenny Trombetta to a 48-8-4 regular-season record during that time, including a 35-1-4 mark in the first two seasons and an appearance in the 2001 Class AA Penguin Cup final.

After a chaotic year in Hampton, he's happy to be at a program that has continued to field a team while other area schools such as Beaver, which beat Reed's Rams in that championship game four years ago, and Center have disbanded their varsity programs.

"It's been good, a great group of players, and the team and organization I've enjoyed immensely. It's really a great group of kids," Reed said. "The president and the board of directors really are wonderful."

There have been reports that the Bridgers were on the cusp of turning things around before, and Reed isn't delusional. His numbers are such the varsity often practices with the freshman team and blowout losses have been the norm.

But so have been full practices. So has been a willingness to learn. So has been an effective penalty kill in the neutral zone and an almost too patient style that has the scoring spread around the roster because players will eagerly pass the puck.

"Maybe as a team they should shoot more, but as a coach you love that because they're thinking as a team," Reed said.

Doing most of the shooting now is a pair of senior twins, Cory Bajek, the top line center, and Chris, who centers the second line. …

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