An unlikely duo making noise for PV hockey

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Jake Aferiat

Coco Klisivitch (22) and Clancy Chichetti (72) see action for the Indians in their 4-1 win over Northern Highlands. The two have made names for themselves this season.

Jake Aferiat, Sports Writer

Early into the Pascack Valley hockey season, it’s not Matt Truglio, Luke Ciocca, Steve Brennan, or Trent Shanley that are getting all of the notoriety.

Hockey at Pascack Valley is a joint effort with Pascack Hills, as students that attend Pascack Hills can play for the Pascack Valley team.

Two players, freshmen at Hills, Coco Klisivitch and Clancy Chichetti are also making noise, but they’re not lighting up the box score, making spectacular plays, or delivering bone crushing hits.

Instead, they stand out because they’re girls that are successful in a sport that has been dominated by men for almost its entire existence. However, the notion that hockey is a male-dominated sport is changing rapidly. An area all-girls high school, Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA) just recently added a hockey team. The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team has seen its members get inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, in addition to capturing five medals ( one gold, three silver and one bronze). The idea that hockey is not for girls, is antiquated.

“When I first started playing hockey I was always the only girl on my team so it kind of prepared me for this. Now I have Coco too, so we always have each other,” Chichetti said.

But this increased growth in women’s hockey wasn’t a factor in either player’s decision to go out for the team.

“I don’t think women’s hockey growing popularity helped me trying out. What helped me try out was having Clancy also try out with me,” Klisivitch said.

A similar sentiment was shared by Chichetti.

“The growth of women’s hockey really didn’t impact me deciding to tryout. I was always going to try out anyway,” she said.

There is one noticeable difference between women’s hockey and men’s — the physicality. Women’s hockey focuses on more of the finer points of the sport like skating, stick-handling, and passing, whereas the men’s game focuses on physicality and especially speed.

From a young age though, the duo felt attached to the game; an excitement that drew them to the ice.

“I loved watching hockey on TV growing up and always wished to play. My mom was always worried about me though. When I was younger, not many girls played hockey especially because it’s a very physical sport. Around 5th grade I started learning and playing for a team and I haven’t stopped playing since,” said Klisivitch.

“My dad got me into hockey. He’s from Canada, so I’ve been surrounded by it since I was really young, but I started playing hockey in 5th grade in New York City, when I played for three teams at the time,” said Chichetti.

But the prospect of playing with all men, on a much more physical level doesn’t seem to bother or intimidate either one of them.

“I don’t really feel intimidated playing with all guys because I’ve done it before and usually they’re sort of protective of the girls on the team. They get really [angry] when other people hit us,” Klisivitch said.

“When I first started playing hockey I was always the only girl on my team so it kind of prepared me for this. Now I have Coco too, so we always have each other,” Chichetti said

Through the first stretch of games both have taken their fair share of hits, but have responded well, often times getting right back up and appearing unfazed. Just as any other athlete, male or female would do.

This experience has paid off for both of them, as they see their fair share of ice time on the third and fourth lines for varsity, including some big moments. By all accounts, it’s a vote of confidence from the players and coaches, and shows that the tandem are living up to expectations.

“I’ve been pleased with their performance so far,” coach Ken DelSanto said. “I was never concerned with their ability to play at this level.”

Their teammates have also been incredibly supportive, praising the duo and the incredible effort they put in.

“They have been impressing us all this year and have done a good job with getting the puck out of our zone and clearing deep,” said sophomore forward AJ Helfenbein.

“Coco and Clancy came in with big expectations this year and they haven’t let us down at all,” senior forward Avery Zaretsky said.

“They’ve shown they can produce at a varsity level, and that never really surprised me,” junior forward Trent Shanley said.

No one is exactly sure what the future holds for these two, but DelSanto, Helfenbein, Zaretsky and Shanley all agree that it looks bright.

Chichetti had this to offer about her future and women’s hockey in general.

“Honestly the growth of women’s hockey looks great for my future but otherwise most people don’t really care about it,” said Chichetti

And she’s right, in this very moment, women’s hockey may not be widely popular. But as more and more, women show that they can go out there and compete with the men there will be no need to discriminate and it may eventually just be called “hockey.”

Whether they know it or not, Coco Klisivitch and Clancy Chichetti have already left a lasting impact on the PV community and its hockey team. Because of their success, maybe, just maybe, a sister of a player or another girl who had reservations about playing competitive hockey may rethink her decision and may go out for the team.