INSIDE HOCKEY » High School http://insidehockey.com Get Inside! Wed, 06 Aug 2014 17:05:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Senior Brian Begley Powers Morristown To First State Title http://insidehockey.com/senior-brian-begley-powers-morristown-to-first-state-title http://insidehockey.com/senior-brian-begley-powers-morristown-to-first-state-title#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 21:05:51 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57185

With less than 34 seconds left in regulation and a 0-0 tie, Cam Szary stole the puck back from Ramsey forward Alex Whelan. Szary left a drop pass for Brian Begley, who took the shot.

“[I thought] just fire it away because I knew there were guys coming right behind me,” Begley said.

The puck went in.

“We’re gonna win, we can do this,” the senior captain thought at the time. “It’s going to be the first state title of Morristown.”

The Prudential Center and Morristown fans erupted while Begley’s teammates jumped on him in celebration, bringing the senior captain down to the ice.

Morristown’s netminder, Shane Brown, wasn’t thinking the same thing.

“Where’s [Alex] Whelan going to be on the next shift,” Brown said. “We knew that he was going to be the guy that they were going to get it to.”

The Rams called a timeout right after the goal and pulled Tyler Harmon for an extra attacker. During that time, the Colonials talked about shutting down Ramsey’s leading scorer Whelan in the closing seconds.

“He’s a very special player and he was going to try and get that shot off,” Brown said. “In all the excitement, it was very controlled though. Our coach brought us in, he did a great job of calming everybody down and just setting the tone for what’s going to happen in the next [33] seconds and this is what we need to win this.”

But Colonial coach Bobby Jones said he was never worried.

“These guys, they’re like machines at this point with the D zone,” Jones said “I wasn’t even worried at all. I knew 33 seconds left, they’re not scoring.”

Ramsey didn’t score, and Morristown won 1-0 to claim its first state championship on Sunday. The past two seasons, Morristown waited on the ice and watched another team celebrate a Public A Championship. In 2013 the Colonials lost to Chatham, in 2012 they lost to Randolph.

“I could not be more excited for everybody in that locker room, especially the seniors,” Brown said.

“I think everybody in there played their butts off and everyone deserves it. These rings are going to be really nice to finally hold one that belongs to us.”

Begley was on the last two teams that lost in finals, and he also lost in the lacrosse state championship as a sophomore.

“I wanted this win more than anything in the world,” Begley said.

“It’s the best I’ve ever felt. We knew it was a group of special guys coming in the beginning of the season and we made this our goal from day one. We wanted to win a state championship. The last two, it was the most disappointing thing in the world because we knew those seniors worked their tails off just to get that special moment.

“Morristown, coming up we were never like a great team but we were just a bunch of blue collar guys. With the group of seniors we knew we could do something special with this team.”

Jones credited the team’s ability to win with a switch to the Mennen Division, which allowed the team to grow through a tougher schedule.

“I think that when you’re getting better as a program you’re going through some growing pains,” Jones said.

“I’ve said in the past we will not a championship unless we get in the Mennen Division and we battle, battle, battle every single game, game in and game out. And we got the results.”

The Colonials shut down a Rams offense that had scored 30 goals in the tournament this year. Ramsey also had three players on its roster who scored 40 or more points this season.

“We focused on defense. Defense has been our strong point,” Jones said. “And letting the other team work around the perimeter and then around shots from the perimeter. As long as Shane can see it, he can save it.”

Brown finished with 22 saves, including a stop with less than eight minutes left on Nick Boatta, who’d picked up a rebound.

Morristown also kept Ramsey’s leading scorer, Alex Whelan, from finding the back of the net. Whelan entered the game with 80 points (43g, 37a). Jones said the team spent the past few days watching film on Whelan.

“We had a third guy high, extra high all the time, we always knew where he was around the ice, very rarely did he really take control the way I’ve seen him in other games,” Jones said.

“He’s a fantastic player and good luck to him and the rest of the team over there. It was an incredibly tough game and either team would’ve been deserving of a W today.”

Morristown’s goal came on one of two shots the team took in the third frame after being dominated in the second. The Colonials controlled possession in the first period, but Harmon stopped all 11 shots he faced. He finished with 15 saves.

“This is a hard, hard working team,” Jones said. “We’re not the prettiest team, we’re not the most skilled team but we’re a hardworking team and they’re very deserving of what they got tonight.”

In the semifinals, Morristown took down Chatham 2-1 in the semifinals. Begley said the recent loses to Chatham fueled the team.

“We always knew we had a chance,” Brown said. “Coach Jones said he had more faith in this team than anybody else and as long as we bought into what he was saying, the systems that he was providing us with, we trusted him all the way.

“And I think we’re a very talented playoff team. I think that no matter what happens in the season we always seem to find our way back here. It’s just a way of closing out the season. I’m overwhelmed with emotion right now for everybody.”

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Christian Brothers Academy, Morristown-Beard Become First New Jersey State Co-Champions Since 1989 http://insidehockey.com/christian-brothers-academy-morristown-beard-become-first-new-jersey-state-co-champions-since-1989 http://insidehockey.com/christian-brothers-academy-morristown-beard-become-first-new-jersey-state-co-champions-since-1989#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 21:04:31 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57173

After the non-public final between Christian Brothers Academy and Morristown-Beard ended in a 4-4 tie and co-champions, both teams skated over to congratulate their goalkeepers.

There was no celebration, no gloves and sticks flying in the air, no massive piles of players.

Just the handshake line.

“[To know that] teams can battle so hard and both be crying at the end, for politically correct purposes, it’s actually disgusting,” CBA coach Ryan Bogan said. “And I hope they take my words, and at least take them into consideration and know that now both teams are crying.

“You didn’t just lose, you tied. And it’s worst than losing.”

After regulation ended, the teams played a 15-minute overtime period. Despite a few good chances from both teams, no one scored. It was the first time since 1989 two teams were crowned co-champions.

When Morristown-Beard walked down the Prudential Center halls after receiving their 2014 Non-Public Championship trophy, none of the players smiled. They marched to the locker room mostly in silence.

Morristown-Beard coach Randy Velischek called the mood “dour.”

“It’s an emotional letdown,” Velischek said. “It doesn’t feel like a victory. If anything, it feels like a loss.”

After trailing 4-1 after the first period, CBA — which scored first — responded with three goals in less than two minutes in the second frame.

In third period and in overtime, both teams came close to finding the back of the net. Morristown-Beard’s Luke Moser created some, while Ben Hampton and Anthony Cusnaelli both generated a few scoring chances for CBA.

Morristown-Beard’s Danny Porth made some big save in the last two frames in the game, including a stop on a shorthanded CBA bid.

“We were very high and then there was a lull and a lull and things settled down,” Velischek said. “I thought the rest of the game was evenly played and well played by both teams.”

CBA scored 1:51 minutes into the game, with an unassisted tally from Christian Winters. But Morristown-Beard responded with four goals, scoring on seven shots.

“Cernero had bad breaks, we left him hanging out to dry,” Bogan said.

Less than two minutes after CBA went ahead 1-0, Michael Meisenbacher put Morristown-Beard on the board. Coleman Schultz followed up with a shot that snuck past Cernero five hole to put the Crimson up 2-1. Alec Borowiec and Isaac Davison assisted on the play.

Morristown-Beard continued to press in the period, and Thomas Rago and Luke Moser added goals a minute apart. Both plays started off CBA turnovers.

After a shaky first period for CBA, Bogan said William Antonides, Brendan van Riemsdyk and Anthony Cusanelli spoke up during the first intermission.

“Our character took over, our leadership took over. They knew the right words,” Bogan said. “They knew that we were as good if not better than that team and we had to settle down.”

After stepping up in the locker room. van Riemsdyk and Cusanelli combined to bring CBA within two. Van Riemsdyk found the puck in front of the net and sent it to his right, where Cusanelli put it past Porth.

Bobby Hampton  then scored on a backhanded tally, converting a feed from the point and defenseman Ryan Bogan. And 32 seconds later, Derek Contessa found the puck in a scramble by Morristown-Beard’s net, poking it in and tying the game.

“We had players trying to do too much again, back to where we were in December,” Bogan said. “[In the second] we got back to February hockey and March hockey and we got back in the game.”

It took 2:55 minutes for CBA to score three goals and knot the score at 4-4. The Colts took 16 shots in the frame, and Porth recorded 13 saves.

“There was some panic. Panic reigned,” Velischek said. “And then it settled. That’s just the nature, it’s always, there’s always ebb and flow.”

CBA’s defense improved in the second period as well, but Bogan swapped goalkeepers in the start of the period. He played Connor Silverstein and sat Cernero. Just 3:27 into overtime, Silverstein made a huge save to keep the game tied.

“In relief and in an environment like this, that’s a tough thing to ask and for him to go but there and do it, just I thought he was awesome,” Bogan said. “Not much more you can say to that.”

Even with the outcome, Velischek said he encouraged his players to appreciate the experience.

“They’re playing in front of 5,000 people, in front of your parents and the alumni and your peers,” Velischek said.

“To not have a winner declared, it’s a little, it’s bittersweet.”

Morristown-Beard’s Chris Brunner-Grande recorded an assist, while Luke Moser finished with a goal and an assist. CBA’s Bobby Hampton also recorded a goal and an assist, while Ryan Bogan and Michael Foggia added helpers.

Morristown-Beard reached the final after upsetting No. 1 Delbarton, the winner of six state titles in a row. This was CBA’s first trip to the finals since 2012, when the Colts lost to Delbarton.

“We didn’t stop, we battled until the end. And that’s what it was,” Bogan said. “It was a war of attrition and it’s like going to battle. I don’t know, do you retreat or something? I don’t know what that was, in battle.

“I don’t even, like do you come in the locker room and [what do you] say to your kids? Thank you for all your hard work but you got nothing to show for it? I don’t know.”

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Cangelosi’s Comeback Powers Morris Knolls to Championship http://insidehockey.com/cangelosis-comeback-powers-morris-knolls-to-championship http://insidehockey.com/cangelosis-comeback-powers-morris-knolls-to-championship#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 16:07:51 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57169

With 8:39 minutes left in the second period, Morris Knolls forward Danny Cangelosi was on his knees after taking a hit. He wasn’t getting up, so the trainer walked off the bench and to the far boards to attend to Cangelosi. A few minutes later, a couple Golden Eagles helped Cangelosi — who was struggling to skate — to the bench.

Four minutes after his teammates helped him off the ice, Cangelosi was back on the ice and right by Bridgewater-Raritan’s net.  The puck careened off the boards and went straight to Cangelosi, who put it past Bridgewater-Raritan’s Mike Avenoso.

“It was incredible. The fans were there, I jumped into the fans,” Cangelosi said.

The tally helped Morris Knolls defeated Bridgewater-Raritan 3-0 in the Public A Championship. It marked the first time a team won a state championship after getting an at-large bid, and the second time the Golden Eagles won.

“The mood is outstanding,” Morris Knolls coach Walt Keiper said. “They’re sky high right now. … It’s perfect.”

After taking the hit, Cangelosi initially didn’t know if he would return or not.

“I was coming up the ice, I turned around and there was a kid who hit me right in the neck,” Cangelosi said. “My windpipe just shut down.”

Not long after Cangelosi returned to the bench, the trainer cleared him to play. But Keiper sat Calngelosi for one shift.

“He’s a greedy little player,” Keiper said. “When he got hit in the throat with that hit, once the trainer told me he was good to go, I actually sat him a shift and he was mad because he wanted to get out there.

“I feel very happy that he was able to get one in.”

With 10:42 minutes left in regulation, Bridgewater-Raritan came close to cutting the deficit to 2-1. Initially the whistle blew after a save from Morris Knolls’ Zach Flake, but the goal light also turned on and Bridgewater-Raritan was celebrating.

The puck had trickled past Flake and just crossed the goal line around the time the whistle blew. After a review the referees ruled it was a not a goal.

Other than the almost-goal, Flake made some key saves for the Golden Eagles. But the team’s defense kept Bridgewater-Raritan from getting good looks at the net.

“Team defense,” Keiper said. “We’ve been stressing team defense for a while with these guys. “We don’t have a lot of scoring, true scoring on the team to capitalize on mistakes and those things, so it’s got to come from the defense.”

Bridgewater-Raritan had two good chances, with Brett Goldstein hitting the top right corner of the net in the first period. In the third, a rebound found Dylan Gottlieb’s stick, but he shot high.

Morris Knolls dominated the first period and scored 1:52 minutes into the game. Alex Urbanski was skating across the net, grabbed a loose puck on a rebound and backhanded it in for the goal.

Urbanski’s tally, the first of the game, stood as the game-winning goal.

“It was huge,” Keiper said. “[It] got rid of the jitters and the nervous emotions that were in that locker room once you get out to the early lead and maintaining the lead and maintain our play.”

Morris Knolls created multiple scoring chances, and the Golden Eagles also had a goal disallowed for a high stick in the first period.

Reed Pelliconi sealed the win with an empty net goal 5.9 seconds left in the game to make it 3-0. Daniel Abaunza, Jake Hepburn and Jonathan Kwestel added points on the night.

Cangelosi, Flake, Walkt Keiper and Matt Mezik made the Public A All-Tournament Team, as did Bridgewater-Raritan’s Tyler Darby and Goldstein.

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NJISAA High School Hockey Tournament Preview http://insidehockey.com/njisaa-high-school-hockey-tournament-preview http://insidehockey.com/njisaa-high-school-hockey-tournament-preview#comments Sun, 09 Mar 2014 15:05:02 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57112

Morristown-Beard coach Randy Velischek stood at the podium, addressing the six NJISAA High School Hockey Tournament finalists.

Valischek was a member of the New Jersey Devils when the team made it to the postseason for the first time in 1987.

“We had veteran players on the team and the message they gave us was, I was a pretty young player at the time, they said ‘Savor this. Relish it and savor this moment because it might never happen again,’ ” Valischek said.

When you’re young, you don’t realize it. You say, ‘Well we have a chance to get back here.’ I was 25 uears old and I figured I’m playing the game for seven or eight years or whatever. Ulimtately I never played in another playoff game. That was it. It was the last time I got to play in the postseason.”

Valishcek’s Morristown-Beard team will take on Christian Brothers Academy in the Non-Public final, while Morris Knolls and Bridgewater-Raritan will face off in the Public A final. The last puck will drop on Ramsey and Morristown in the Public B final on Sunday night.

“All of you understand what it’s like to play in the postseason,” Valischek  Everything is ratcheted up, everything’s ramped up, it’s a great time. It’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

***

Velischek’s team made it the finals after upsetting No. 1 Delbarton, who’d won six state championships in a row.

“These gentlemen here on Wednesday night did something this school has never done, they beat Delbarton,” Velischek said. “It’s been 44 games and 20 years and it seemed like it was an impossible hurdle so to all of you congratulations.”

Morristown-Beard will take on Christian Brothers Academy, who’s returning to the final after losing to Delbarton in the final in 2012.

Christian Brothers Academy finished the season 24-3, led by Bobby Hampton’s 71 points (32g, 39a), while three players have over 40 points this season. The Colts defeated St. Rose, St. Joseph Metuchen and St. Augustine Prep en route to the state final.

“Every year we make this our season goal,” CBA coach Ryan Bogan said. “Sometimes we fall short, sometimes we make it. It’s an experience that our players and players around the state are never going to forget.”

In addition to taking down Delbarton, Morristown-Beard beat Gloucester Catholic and Pope John in the tournament. Luke Moser’s 35 points (17g, 18a) leads the offense. 

***

Last season, Bridgewater-Raritan made it to the state finals. But they lost 4-1 to Randolph at The Rock.

“I’ve heard NFL coaches, college coaches talk about just getting back is even tougher the second time than it is the first time and our team definitely experienced that,” Bridgewater-Raritan coach Patrick Alvin said. “It was a very difficult road,we had a few injures here and there along the way and we were able to overcome.”

Tyler Darby’s 28 points (17g, 21a) leads Bridgewater-Raritan’s offense, while Mickey Avenoso has a 0.94 save percentage.

Morris Knolls defeated Randolph, last year’s champions, 1-0 in the semifinals.

Walter Keiper leads Morris Knolls offense with 33 points (19g, 14a). Zach Flake holds a 0.92 save percentage. The Golden Eagles took down High Point, Jackson Memorial, Ocean Township and Randolph in the tournament.They defeated Randolph 1-0 in the semifinals.

“We battled all year, we hovered around that .500 mark all season, we played a very tough schedule, an out of league schedule as well,” Morris Knolls head coach Walt Keiper said.  “It’s been up down, the boys came togheter in the tournament and I’m very proud of them.”

***

For the past two years, Ramsey made it to the semifinals. For the past two years, they didn’t advance to The Rock.

On Thursday, Ramsey took down Mendham 7-0 to advance to the finals.

The Rams will face Morristown in the last game at The Rock.

“I don’t think being here is going to be enough for them,” Rams coach  Bob Toy said. “Over the past couple years they worked real hard to get here and now that they’re here they want to make the best of it and their job will be done if and when we’re able to be successful.”

The Rams, who defeated Mount Olive, Madison, Roxbury and Mendham, have tallied 30 points in the tournament. Alex Whelan leads the offense with 80 points (43g, 37a).

Last year Morristown lost to Chatham 3-0 in the Public B championship game. The year before that, Morristown fell to Randolph 1-0 in the Public A championship. This season, Morristown defeated Indian Hills, Wayne Hills and Summit — before taking down Chatham 2-1 in the semifinals.

“This season has been a little different than the past two years making it here,” Morristown coach Bobby Jones said. “I know it’s our first trip back but this is a little bit more gratifying I think that we put a little bit more work than in the past years. That’s a testament to the kids and the commitment and dedication as well as the assistant coaches.”

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Ramsey Boy’s Ice Hockey Wants More Than A Final Berth http://insidehockey.com/ramsey-boys-ice-hockey-wants-more-than-a-final-berth http://insidehockey.com/ramsey-boys-ice-hockey-wants-more-than-a-final-berth#comments Sun, 09 Mar 2014 15:02:06 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57107

Ramsey coach Bob Toy smiled as he looked over at his team. They were sitting in the concourse of The Rock, waiting to eat at the NJISAA high school hockey championships luncheon.

“I don’t think being here is going to be enough for them,” Toy said. “Over the past couple years they worked really hard to get here. Now that they’re here, they want to make the best of it and their job will be done if and when we’re able to be successful.”

Ramsey defeated Mendham 7-0 in the semifinals to earn a berth back to the Prudential Center for the first time since winning it all in 2009. They will face Morristown on Sunday in the Public B Championship.

Surrounded by state high school hockey jerseys, murals of the Stanley Cup and pictures of New Jersey champions before them, Ramsey captain Connor DiTomasso said the team is trying not to be nervous.

“If you let your nerves get to you you tend to not play as well so we try to think of it just like another game,” DiTomasso said.

But DiTomasso admitted the team was a little anxious getting to the semifinals. In the past two years, Ramsey fell in the semifinals — to Summit 3-2 and Chatham 5-2 — failing to make it to the Prudential Center.

After beating Mendham in the semifinals on Thursday, the team celebrated for a little bit. But once they were off the ice, the Rams shifted their focus to Sunday’s championship game.

“They were very business like,” Toy said. “There wasn’t a lot of ripping it up, they weren’t thinking that they just accomplished something. It was, for a man it was we have one more game.

“It was a little maybe a sigh of relief, but it was more along the lines of, okay we have one more ahead of us.”

This season, Ramsey also faced Public A finalists Morris Knolls and Bridgewater-Raritan, beating both of them on the season en route to a 28-2 record.

In the NJISAA Tournament this year, the Rams defeated Mount Olive, Madison and Roxbury. They’ve scored a combined 30 goals.

“Goal scoring is contagious. When it goes in, everybody’s scoring,” Toy said. “When there’s a drought, nothing’s going in the net. You’ve got a wide-open net and can still miss.

“W’ere in a pretty good groove right now and hopefully that stays with us for one more game.”

Alex Whelan, a Quinnipiac commit, leads the team with 80 points (43g, 37a) this season. In the entire tournament, Ramsey has allowed one goal.

“We really have to bare down on defense and obviously keep going to the net and just trying to put pucks on net and score as many goals as we can,” DiTomasso said. “But defense is key. You can’t win a game with just offense, you need defense.”

Tyler Harmon has manned Ramsey’s net in every tournament game, making a combined 53 saves. The Rams limited their opponents to 12 shots or less on goal in every tournament match except against Mendham, when they allowed 20.

“I thought our first two periods were stellar. We were on Mendham early, we got early goals, kept them off, we gave up eight shots in the first two periods to a team that scored over 200 goals,” Toy said.

“Coming into the third period I we backed off the gas pedal a little bit and gave Mendham some opportunities against us. Our goalkeeper was tremendous and Tyler did exactly what he had to do and preserve the shutout.

“If [we have] anything to improve on, it’s [play a] more consistent third period as the first and second.”

Ramsey’s players haven’t skated for a championship on the Prudential Center ice before.

“I don’t know how they’re going to react when they hit the ice,” Toy said.

Unlike Ramsey, Morristown appeared in the 2013 and 2012 Public B Championship. Last year they fell to Chatham, and in 2012 they lost to Randolph.

“All of our guys played high level travel hockey so they’ve been in a lot of big games in a lot of different arenas,” Toy said. I don’t think the size of the barn, the atmosphere is going to affect them.

“When they step on the ice they may get a little star struck but then after the first minute or two of warmups they’ll dial right in and get onto their task at hand.”

In addition to the semifinal losses Ramsey suffered over the past five years, the team also fell to Chatham in the quarterfinals in 2011. In 2010, the Rams lost in the second round 4-2 to West Milford.

“It’s really hard to get back,” Toy said. “All the players out here, really enjoy the next few days because it goes fast, but they are memories that will last a lifetime.”

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The State of Hockey http://insidehockey.com/the-state-of-hockey http://insidehockey.com/the-state-of-hockey#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 20:46:35 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=56455

At one point in time, Chicago was a deserted basin of hockey. Thanks to the resurrection of the Blackhawks, that has since changed.

During the 2006-07 season, the Blackhawks were drawing a meager 12,727 fans per game, filling just 62.1% of the capacity at the United Center. Their metropolitan counterpart, the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, were seemingly more popular than the team in red and white.

Eight years and two Stanley Cups later, the Blackhawks have been the driving force behind a revitalized interest in hockey in Chicago.

“I think it’s undeniable that the Blackhawks have a huge hand in what’s happening in hockey’s popularity in Chicago,” said Chris Peters, editor of unitedstatesofhockey.com and a regular contributor to CBSSports.com’s Eye on Hockey Blog. “You add in two Stanley Cups, every game on TV, sold out buildings every night and an infrastructure to support that growth, it’s been the perfect storm.”

Blackhawks CEO Rocky Wirtz revolutionized hockey in Chicago by allowing Blackhawks games to be televised locally for the first time. The move revived a once lost and discouraged fan base.

While it is easy to see that the interest level in professional hockey has risen in recent years, per the capacity crowds at the United Center, it is even more encouraging to take a look at USA Hockey membership and youth hockey. A 25% increase in USA hockey membership within the state is certainly indicative of the growth of hockey in Illinois. Hockey cathedrals such as Minnesota or Michigan have prolific college programs. Illinois does not have such a luxury, although the door is now open for programs such as Illinois or Northwestern, both in a marketable conference and who could easily build up and support a reputable program. Now that participation and interest in hockey in Illinois have both spiked, the talent pool is right there.

“There have always been good players in the greater Chicago area and there still are good players there,” said Tom Newton, assistant men’s hockey coach at Michigan State University. “I really hope they can do it.”

Now, nobody is going to mistake Illinois for Minnesota or Michigan, but the talent pool is right there. With powerhouses such as Loyola Academy and New Trier, both of whom have produced NHL talents, universities certainly would have the opportunity to keep kids local. Current recruitment in Illinois is dominated by schools such as Notre Dame and Wisconsin. However, if universities in Illinois could keep high school kids at home in state, the possibilities are wide open.

“They would have problems early until they established the program with the proper facilities and such, but I think once they did that, they would be able to compete with anyone in the country,” said Newton.

Clearly, the opportunity is right there for hockey to really explode in the greater Chicago area and it was all started by the resurrection of the Blackhawks, a team that once was a bottom dweller of the NHL but now has brought the glory of hockey back to its home.

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Tribute to a Friend Gone Too Soon http://insidehockey.com/tribute-to-a-friend-gone-too-soon http://insidehockey.com/tribute-to-a-friend-gone-too-soon#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2013 14:39:32 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=54230

travis-stryker-family

Hardly a week would go by without Rebecca Stryker regaling me with tales of her family’s travels with her twin hockey playing sons, defenseman/forward Travis and goaltender Austin. The students at Allen (Texas) High School pursued their love of the sport and represented north Texas and their elite U-16 AA Dallas Junior Hockey Association (DJHA) Penguins by participating in numerous youth hockey tournaments nationally against very talented competition.

She absolutely loved to recall how well her sons in particular and their team in general had competed, as well as the laughs and stories that highlighted each of those trips. Prior to Thanksgiving, she told me about the approaching 2013 Silver Stick Regional in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her pre-tournament primer fed our mutual love of hockey, particularly at the youth level.

Unfortunately, our friend Rebecca is – to borrow from vocalist Usher Raymond’s lyrics at Michael Jackson’s memorial – Gone Too Soon. The 60-year old educator, wife and mother of three children was killed along with her husband James, 56, and son Travis in a head on collision in northern Arizona November 26. Austin survived the crash, and Stephanie, a junior at Texas A&M University, was not on the trip. The Dallas Junior Hockey Association has established a fund to support the family’s surviving children. All proceeds will go to Austin and Stephanie to cover costs related to the accident, and to their future needs.

That this accident occurred en route to the hockey tournament in Nevada is tragically ironic. Rebecca and James were deeply involved in the Penguins organization for the benefit not only of their own children, but for their teammates as well. They worked diligently, setting up and administering fund raising events, as well as shuttling the twins to their practices and games.

Needless to say, the news of their deaths slammed into each of her teaching colleagues – as well as the youth hockey community — with the force of a puck travelling at upwards of 110-mph. The Dallas Stars offered a classy tribute to the family, and a moment of silence prior to their Nov. 29 game against Chicago at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

As teachers of at risk students in the McKinney Independent School District, Rebecca and each of us as educators shared another common bond — our commitment to help our students overcome life’s trials and tribulations in the hope of preparing for a brighter future.

I was always truly amazed at the tireless devotion that Rebecca showed to her family, and to her students. Teaching at risk youths is far different than educating students on a regular campus. To be successful – and we all have our share of success stories in this arena — one must possess a healthy dose of patience and a hair trigger sense of humor.

I will never forget the artful way that Rebecca taught one class how to make ice cream as part of her science curriculum. When one of the students accidentally spilled some of the ingredients, Rebecca quickly directed the clean-up with her trademark smile and a chuckle. She was one of the most joyful people I have ever had the pleasure of being around, and will be missed by her teaching colleagues, administrators and staff members.

Fortunately, the stories and memories of this amazing woman will somehow enlighten our spirits, and keep her in our hearts.

I am told that some parents of the Stryker twins’ Penguin teammates made their way to the crash site upon hearing of the mishap to lend any support they could provide.

The Penguins team soldiered on, just as hockey players always do. Skating with heavy hearts and praying for Austin’s quick recovery, the U-16 AA squad captured the tournament championship. They won four of their five games, including two victories over the Valencia Flyers, 9-4 and 6-2, and defeated the Atlanta Phoenix, 12-1, and the Portland Jr. Hawks, 2-0. As a result, they have qualified for the Silver Stick International Tournament in Newmarket, Ontario (Canada) this January, where they will compete against the best teams from the United States and Canada.

I don’t know whether Austin will be back with the team, but I will be following the Pens’ progress online.

And I sure would love to have heard about her twins’ achievements and the team’s efforts from my teaching colleague, Rebecca Stryker.

Rest in peace, Rebecca. We love you dearly, and we miss you!

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North Broward Prep Takes Florida State High School Title http://insidehockey.com/north-broward-prep-takes-florida-state-high-school-title http://insidehockey.com/north-broward-prep-takes-florida-state-high-school-title#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 04:41:18 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=37442

Written by Josh Appel – Cypress Bay High School Senior

SUNRISE, Fla -  a sparse, but loud crowd gathered to watch the North Broward Preparatory Eagles face off against the Cypress Bay Lightning at the Bank Atlantic Center for the SAHOF Tier 1 State Championship Sunday afternoon, with the Eagles winning 4-3 in overtime.

Outside of FSHL High School Hockey Night (Opening Night), in which Cypress Bay beat North Broward 4-2, the Eagles have dominated season series winning 5 of 6 heading into the championship game.

During the state tournament, Cypress Bay defenseman Kevin Masaro suffered a minor concussion, but did play.

North Broward opened up the scoring 5:19 into the game, when #27 Jake Simons poked a puck past Schmidt to give North Broward the 1-0 lead. The goal was unassisted.

Just 33 seconds later, at the 5:52 mark, GC Debello received a pass from Brad Perlman and bury it into the net to put the Eagles ahead with a commanding 2-0 first period advantage.

A little over halfway through the 1st period, Ryan Sanders put the Lightning on the board with a power play goal from the bottom of the faceoff circle. Kevin Masaro and Ryan Geffin got the assists. The puck barely snuck under the pads of Eagles goaltender Nick Amato.

The Second period was scoreless despite the fact that each team had two power plays in the frame. The teams headed to the locker room before the third period with the score still at 2-1.

Just 1:33 into the third frame, North Broward captain Brandon Palacio knocked a rebound past Randy Schmidt to give them a 3-1 lead, and a huge momentum swing in the Eagles’ favor.

At the 7:28 mark, Ryan Geffin picked up a loose puck and snapped a shot past the outstretched Amato. Ryan Fellman and Chance Wolf picked up the helpers. 3-2 was the score at this point with plenty of time for the tying goal.

Cypress Bay came close to putting home the equalizer twice in the period. Most notably when Danny Worth got a puck through the legs of Nick Amato, but as it dribbled towards the goal line, one of the Eagles’ defensemen was able to clear the puck out. Later, with about 1:50 remaining in regulation, Ryan Sanders ringed a shot off of the cross bar. The score remained 3-2.

The Lightning pulled their goalie with 1:13 left for the extra attacker. On Cypress Bay’s last rush, Ryan Geffin backhanded one past Nick Amato to tie the game at 3 goals apiece. The goal was credited to Danny Worth, with Ryan Geffin and Kevin Masaro getting the assists.

This game headed into overtime at about 1:44 in the afternoon. Just as the puck was dropped, a Florida Panthers rep came down to the penalty box to inform the teams that they needed to be off the ice by 2:00 PM in advance of the scheduled game that night. It turned out to be a moot point.

The extra frame was mostly dominated by North Broward. Randy Schmidt stopped Jake Simons on a breakaway 5:27 into the period to keep Cypress Bay’s hopes alive.

However, just nine seconds later, Simons took advantage of both Lightning defensemen pinching in on offense, and deliver a perfect pass to Brad Perlman who buried it top shelf to give the Eagles the win, and the state championship with a Final score of 4-3 in OT.

“Both teams left it on the ice,” North Broward Prep Head Coach, and former Panther enforcer Peter Worell said postgame. “It wasn’t about tactics or positioning, it was about hard work. Both teams left it all out there. But you know, as happy and as excited as we are, you gotta feel for some of those kids on that team.”

“Someone had to lose,” Lightning head coach Perry San said. “The effort was as great as anyone could give, nobody could’ve said we could’ve worked a little harder, we just played great and came up short.”

With the win, North Broward Prep earns their third state championship, and will make a trip to the USA Hockey High School National Tournament later this month.
THREE STARS:

3: Cypress Bay: G 68 Randy Schmidt
2: Cypress Bay: F/D 26 Ryan Geffin (1 G 1A, game tying goal with :10 left)
1: North Broward: F 21 Brad Perlman (1 G 1A, GWG at 5:18 in OT)

SCORING:
1st Period:  (NB) Jake Simons-Unassisted (5:19)
(NB) GC Debello- Brad Perlman (5:52)
(CB) Ryan Sanders- Kevin Masaro- Ryan Geffin (8:45)

2nd Period: NO SCORING

3rd Period: (NB) Brandon Palacio-Unassisted (1:33)
(CB) Ryan Geffin- Ryan Fellman- Chance Wolf (7:28)
(CB) Ryan Geffin- Danny Worth- Kevin Masaro (14:50)

Overtime: (NB) Brad Perlman- Jake Simons (GWG, 5:18)

GAME NOTES:  Cypress Bay defensemen Matt Hersh left the game with an apparent shoulder injury after the 2nd period. Cypress Bay forward Thomas Yamashita dressed, but did not play. He has been out with a concussion.

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Boston Rivalries to Hit Fenway Jan. 14 http://insidehockey.com/boston-rivalries-to-hit-fenway-jan-14 http://insidehockey.com/boston-rivalries-to-hit-fenway-jan-14#comments Thu, 03 Nov 2011 23:23:58 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=30956

BOSTON — Just one week after a Hockey East doubleheader featuring four of New England’s Division I hockey universities, a pair of Boston rivalry games will take center stage on what will become America’s Most Beloved Sheet of Ice.

After reports of a second set of hockey games came down on Wednesday, the news that Northeastern and Boston College would be playing a Hockey East game in Fenway Park as part of the second Frozen Fenway was released for real on Thursday afternoon.

The longtime conference rivals will be meeting for the 214th time when Jan. 14, 2012, rolls around. The 6 p.m. puck drop will be preceded by a 3 p.m. clash between two storied Massachusetts high school rivals in Boston College High and Catholic Memorial.

The outdoor game between the two squads will also serve as a preview of the opening-round match at the 60th Annual Beanpot Tournament (Monday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m.).

Tickets go on sale on November 18 at noon and will include admission to both games. They will be available at RedSox.com/FrozenFenway, by calling (877) RED-SOX9, or at the Fenway Park box office.

The Frozen Fenway 2012 events — sponsored by Sun Life Financial for the second time — will also include two free skating days for Boston residents as part of the Mayor’s Community Skate, taking place on Sunday, Jan. 1 and again on Monday, Jan. 16.

Several thousand tickets for the two Community Skate days will be distributed to various Boston residents and groups through the Mayor’s office. More information will be available at a later date.

THOUGHTS

Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan:
“The Northeastern hockey team, family and alumni are honored to be a part of the Frozen Fenway experience. This game is especially meaningful to Northeastern as the Boston Red Sox used to play at the Huntington Avenue Grounds which lies right on our campus. We are pleased to take on such a formidable opponent in Boston College. This will be an experience in which everyone involved will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Northeastern Director of Athletics Peter Roby:
“Our hope at Northeastern is for our student-athletes to make memories that will last them a lifetime. Playing hockey against Boston College at Fenway Park as part of its 100th year celebration will certainly be a memory our players, coaches, alumni and fans will never forget.”

Northeastern Sophomore Forward Rob Dongara:
“It’s nice. Growing up, I used to go to all the games with my dad…Walking up the ramp to the big field, the Green Monster is going to be fun and hopefully we squeeze a win out of it.”

Boston College Head Coach Jerry York:
“The opportunity to play our long-time rival Northeastern on a stage like Fenway Park captivates not only our fan base and the public at large, but our coaches, staff and players as well. Based on our previous experience, which was a memorable night, we look forward to another outdoor game at Fenway Park with great anticipation.”

Boston College High School Athletic Director Jon Bartlett:
“BC High is honored to play outdoor hockey in one of America’s most revered landmarks. It will be a tremendous opportunity for not just our hockey players and coaches to play at Fenway Park, but also for the student body, families, and alumni who will be in attendance.”

Catholic Memorial Athletic Director Alex Campea:
“This is a great opportunity for Catholic Memorial hockey. Being able to skate at Fenway Park will certainly be one of the highlights of our players’ hockey careers.”

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Photo Gallery: Minnesota H.S. Tourney ’11 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-minnesota-h-s-tourney-11 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-minnesota-h-s-tourney-11#comments Thu, 17 Mar 2011 02:13:22 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=21552

The Minnesota High School State Tournament was played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota from 03/09/11 to 03/12/11. St. Thomas Academy defeated Hermantown 5-4 in overtime to claim the class A crown. Eden Prairie defeated Duluth East in a three overtime thriller to win the class AA title.

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