It's September, and I am a little amiss. There is no Jr. showcase on the near horizon. No league play starting. No training camp of 16-19 year olds. No one to swear at and chirp. Although I appreciate the hot starting 16U team of Carp's and the gang for letting me be involved with their squad, it is a weird feeling. For me, this season I get to concentrate on my 06 Squirt Minor team and thankfully have more time with my youngest son. I am very happy about that but will certainly miss the camaraderie of putting a team together and investing in the process.
One thing I do get to do is watch and follow how all of our guys are doing who moved on to the bigger leagues this season. For me, last season’s Mountain Hockey Team was all about doing my utmost to keep promises made to the players who hung with me and got stuck with me. Haha. I felt that we had an excellent season as a team, and our play and what we accomplished spoke volumes. We were a pretty damned good hockey team. You can never blame injuries, but 4 major ones in the 2nd half of our season really took its toll. We really missed Derek Grillone, Corey Raaflaub, Peter Dziergas and Zack Cornish after they went down. Plus we lost Gavin Gray for a long stretch as well. It was duct tape, chicken wire and bandaids down the stretch but the kids battled until the end. We played an insane schedule of over 80 games but that schedule and the work that Coach Huff, Coach Palmer and I put in along with the dedication of the kids have led to some really big things for so many of my Mountain Hockey guys for this season.
I want to start out by saying every kid who wanted to keep going had a spot for next season. Even those who decided to go to school this year and play club hockey or just concentrate on their education had spots lined up. That in itself was phenomenal. So now I will watch them. Pray for them and hope that they were listening to all of the lectures and speeches and tales of regret that really never go away.
So where are they all..... Here goes.
Tommy Nicholson was signed with the JR. A Hawksbury Hawks of the CJHL Ottawa league in February. So proud of Tommy as he could be that story. A kid who never really played AAA and really didn't start playing hockey seriously until 14. He battled every year and has put in the time and effort to get where he is at. Still working with skating instructors over the summer and really getting his body ready for the grind. With 2 years left to go in his jr career I truly believe at he will play college hockey. That will be a tremendous thing!
Jesse Farabee has made his way to the new NJ Titansteam in the NAHL. Jesse was our leagues leading scorer and MVP last season and was very deserving of that award. His 100 plus points and offensive abilities were on display game after game. Even with those successes he is a player who is just coming into his own and has a chance to play D1 hockey. He has the skill set to do it. I know he will be in for a big adjustment in the NA but he will make that adjustment. As he gets bigger and stronger with his 6'3 frame big things will happen for him. It will be great to see where he takes it. Kid can play the game!
Danny Galvez will be playing for the USPHL Philly Flyers Premier team. Danny is a player who will make his coaches very happy. He works hard and is a great character kid. Making a Philly team that was runner up in the Premier league last season is an unreal accomplishment. Danny deserved that and I know he is prepared for the grind. He is the type of player who can excel in any role and that will serve him well long term. He did that for us. He was the glue guy and I will be sincerely rooting for him to reach his goals.
Mateo Capriotti will also be playing for the Philly Flyers on the USPHL Premier team this season. How great is it that we will have 2 guys going that route and playing for one of the top organizations on the east coast? Cappy is another player who is really coming into his own. He has put on muscle and size over the summer and I think his gritty style and playmaking abilities will carry him far. Another guy who like the above will be playing college hockey someday if he keeps doing the right things. He has come so far in his confidence and maturity and I am very proud to have coached him.
Derek Grillone was signed after the first tryout in Rochesterwith their USPHL Premier team. The coaches in Rochester already have great things to say about Griller. Can't blame them at all for that as he is humble, hardworking kid. He gives it his all every practice and every shift and I know he is ready to step up to that level. When Derek hurt his knee last year it was a huge blow to our team. He was still a 60 plus point guy for us. He is strong down low and just works his butt off. Great things ahead for him and I will do everything I can to help him reach his goal. He is another guy who came so far in the last year and a half. Very proud to have coached him as I am of all these guys. Just a great young man.
Zach Zerrahn is also headed to Rochester'sPremier team in the USPHL. Zach has all the ability to play the game at a high level and as he matures it is great to see the young man he is becoming. I know he can have a big year in Rochester. He will score some big goals for them. As he is really figuring it out after a couple years here I can't wait to see what he does this season. In talking and working with him this summer I believe he is ready to take that next step and I can't wait to see how he progresses in his first year at the Premier level.
Jared Levine will be plying his goalie trade for the Florida Eelsof the USPHL Elite League. The Eels are one of the top Elite programs out there and are consistently putting 10-12 players per year into NCAA hockey programs. It is an awesome opportunity for Jared and our Florida trip definitely paid off as Frank and his coaching staff 1st saw Jared down there. Goalie is one of the toughest positions to find a home and I am thrilled that Jared has the chance to play for such a strong program.
Gavin Gray will be headed to Connecticut to play for the new Elite Hockey Academy at Cheshire Academy. This elite 18U AAA squad @EliteHockey_CA, which is being modeled after power houses like Shattuck St Mary's and Selects Academy, will be a great opportunity for Gavin to continue his goal of playing college hockey. The program is being run by the group that just won the 18U Tier 1 Nationals last season. Gavin is another fantastic young man with great character and work ethic. He is a very smart and heady defenseman who plays a great positional game and makes a strong 1st breakout pass out of the zone. Coaches love that kind of D man and I know his coaches in CT will love having him on their squad. I was so thrilled to coach him last season. I know he will be successful.
Peter Dziergas will also be headed to Cheshire Academy this upcoming season to play a top notch 18UAAA schedule. Peter is another great kid who is just coming into his own. Pete's top asset is high level speed. He has that jump that coaches love. He came so far with us last year. His shoulder injury was a tough one as we missed his PK abilities and speed on the forecheck. I think Zerg's is going to have a big year along with Gavin this season. I am really thrilled for both of those guys and where they are headed. It is going to be a great program that they will help build. That is awesome stuff.
This season a few of our younger guys decided to stay home and finish their schooling at their local high schools. I can never fault players for that. All of these guys could of went out of town to play but I know they will do great here and Syracuse is very lucky to have them all.
Adam Carman who won our leagues top goaltender award last season will be between the pipes for the Syracuse 18u team this season. Talk about a kid who came along way last season. From Binghamton AA to the leagues top goalie award. Adam just keeps getting better and better and his work ethic and humble attitude will take him a long way. He will be a rock for them this season and they are lucky to have him there. He is a kid who will go a long way in this game.
Sean Shepard already has multiple Jr A teams in the US and Canada keeping an eye of him this season. He is a top level defenseman and teams covet guys like him. He will be an unreal leader for the 18u Syracuse team this season as he was for us last season. Sean plays the game the right way. Hard as nails and full bore every shift. We loved coaching him last season as he is another kid of great character. I am honestly surprised he isn't already up on the Syracuse Premier team. Sean will play college hockey if he decides that's what he wants to do. I have no doubt of that. His character and work ethic, along with the skill set he has already will get him there. As he continues to play at high levels I can't wait to see where he takes it.
Cullen Moran will also be playing for the Syracuse 18U team this season. Cullen has some magic mitts. Last season was his first playing at a very high level and he stepped up big in some clutch situations. He is another player who has a future in the game if he continues to do the right things. As he matures and gets stronger he could be a high level sniper. I will be watching closely to see how he and all these guys progress this season.
Some of our players have decided to head to school now and start playing club hockey or really concentrating on their education. Every one of these guys had spots at the Premier, Elite or 18U level for next year. For many of these guys the decision was as much a financial one as a hockey one. The game is so expensive at the upper levels now that I sometimes think these guys might be on to something. So to all of my players who are headed to college I wish you the very best and will always be here if you need me be it for a reference or anything else.
From what I have heard Kyler Schilling, Corey Raaflaub, Brandon Gloska and Brendan Albright are all headed to OCC. Jared Pignone is headed to JCC and is working towards a degree in the medical field. Zack Cornish will be headed to Oswego State. We are still working with Tyler Omara on getting him placed. He had a spot on Rochester's Premier lined up for this season and we are working on a couple college opportunities for him as well.
So all in all I would have to say that the Mountain Hockey squad had one heckuva year. I know Coach Huff and I will really miss working with another great group of kids but will be watching and tracking and rooting for you all. Remember we are always here for you when the going gets tough and will quietly share the joy you feel when things are going your way. Please try to remember all of the lessons we tried to instill. So many of those who came before you have had great success and are playing college hockey at all levels. We know you can do it too! Go out there and do great things!
We'll be watching!
PS: In an announcement I will roll out soon I have some great news for the players in this area that can be a huge benefit to all of the guys above and many of our up and coming players. I can't wait to finalize the details. Stay tuned here at mountainhockey.net or follow us on twitter and Facebook.