VJW Players Shine at 2009 USA Hockey Player Development Camp
The summer season is always a busy one for many Valley Jr Warriors players. While most players are enjoying a few months away from hockey, a handful of standout players took their game to USA Hockey Development Select camp held at several sites located across the country.
Headlining the summer camp this year was Alex Gacek, who was chosen for the 2009 U.S. Under-17 Select Team that will compete at the 2009 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament from August 18-22, in Fussen, Germany.
Gacek, who competed on the VJW’s U-16 team that captured the Massachusetts State Tier 1 Championship, took part in the Boys' Select 16 Player Development Camp that was held from June 26 through July 2 at the ESL Sports Centre in Rochester, NY.
The forward from Governor’s Academy is small in size – he stands at only 5-7 and 160 pounds – but he is one of the smartest players who always manages to be in the right position on the ice. His speed and agility around the net and his explosiveness in the neutral zone make him an all-around offensive threat.
As a result, the national coaches have had their eye on Gacek for many years as he is regarded as one of the best in the country at his position. His selection to the Under-17 Select Team simply proves that point.
“Being selected to represent the country at the Five Nations Tournament means that you are one of the best players in your age group in this country,” explained VJW Director of Player Development Fred Devereaux, who has been an NHL scout for the past 23 years, most recently with the Calgary Flames.
At the Five Nations Tournament, Gacek’s U.S. Under-17 Select Team will face off against teams from the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States.
2009 Boys Select 14 Player Development Camp Rochester, New York July 8-14, 2009
An impressive four members of Bill Franzese’s Bantam Major team competed – and competed well – at the 2009 Boys Select 14 Player Development Camp. David Belluche, Brian Pinho, Shane Eiserman and Connor Brassard all traveled to Rochester earlier this month.
Pinho and Brassard participated on the Forest Green team which posted a tournament high of three wins and one loss. Brassard was one of the team’s top scorers as he registered a goal and two assists. Eiserman was also offensively dominant as he finished with one goal and four assists for the Red squad.
It is no surprise that the VJW ’95 Elites were well represented at the USA Hockey Player Development Camp. After all, the team enjoyed a memorable 2008-09 season in which it posted an incredible 28-0-1 record in the NEHL Bantam West division. The team scored 185 goals and allowed just 44 during that 29-game stretch.
2009 Boys Select 15 Player Development Camp Rochester, New York July 15-21, 2009
Also traveling to Rochester this past month were five members of the VJW ’94 team – Charles Donners, Brendan Silk, Ryan Fitzgerald, Michael Iovanna and Daniel O’Connor. Silk was one of the camp’s top offensive performers as he collected three goals and three assists in six games. Only one other player in the camp (which included more than 215 players) scored more points.
Also coming through with strong offensive performances were Ionanna (2-0-2), Fitzgerald (1-0-1) and O’Connor (0-1-1).
A History of Excellence The participation of so many VJW players at USA Hockey Player Development Camp simply underscores the fact that the Valley Jr Warriors program has become one of the top developmental programs in the region.
In its 20th season, many of the VJW’s mites and squirts that have participated in the early years of the program have since developed into some of the top college and professional players in the country.
For such a young program, the Valley Jr. Warriors boast an impressive number of players who have succeeded at the next level. Here are a few highlights:
** 14 Professional Players (NHL, AHL, ECHL, Europe) ** 18 players currently playing NCAA Division I Hockey for the 2008-09 Season (13 Hockey East & 5 ECAC) ** 40 players competing in Division III in the 2008-09 season ** 100+ NCAA Division I & III players that have graduated
Just last month, Chris Kreider, who began his career as a mite player for the Valley Jr Warriors, was selected as the No. 19 pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. Kreider. According to the final Central Scouting Rankings, Kreider entered the 2009 NHL Entry Draft as the highest ranked high school player and the 14th overall among North American skaters.
In 2006, another VJW standout player – Joe Ryan – was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round (48th overall).