To be the best you have to play the best.
Just weeks after three Valley Jr Warriors teams – ’97 Elites, ’98 Elites and ’99 Elites – came through with championship performances at the 2009 Warrior National Showcase, they took to the ice once again to test their skills against one of the best programs in the country, Team Comcast.
Over the course of a two-day period, the Warriors posted five wins and just one loss against the Pennsauken (NJ)-based powerhouse that sent three of its teams to USA Hockey Nationals last spring.
Here is a summary of the scrimmages that were held at the Haverhill Valley Forum.
VJW ’97 Elites
In the first of two games, the Warriors exploded for five goals in the first period en route to an 8-0 blanking of a Team Comcast team that is coached by former NHL All-Star Keith Primeau.
In that contest, Garrett Pietz scored two goals and one assist while Eric MacAdams added one goal and two assists. Also figuring into the scoring barrage were Zach Mirageas (1-1-2), Ryan McDonough (1-2-3), Brent Hill (1-0-1), Cam Askew (1-0-1) and Denis Bouzon (1-0-1).
The very next day it was much of the same as the Warriors posted an identical score of 8-0. Eric MacAdams was the game’s top point getter (2-1-3) while six other players – Cam Askew, Casey Fitzgerald, Noah Hanifin, Zach Mirageas, Ryan McDonough and Brent Hill – scored one goal apiece.
VJW ’98 Elites
Despite falling behind by a score of 2-0 in the first period, the Warriors outscored Team Comcast by a 5-to-3 margin to pull out the 5-3 victory. Jonathan Folsom was a key factor in the game as he scored a goal in both the second and third periods. Jack Cusack, Drew Cioffi and Justin Collins also scored to help keep a well-balanced and explosive Team Comcast squad at bay.
In the second game of the series, Jonathan Folsom exploded for four goals to lead his team to a 6-3 victory. The team found itself trailing once again – this time by a score of 1-0 after one period – but managed to dig itself out of a hole by scoring four goals in the second period to take a 4-3 lead that it would not relinquish. William Falter and Justin Collins scored in that key second period before Folsom capped off the win by scoring two of his goals in the third and final period.
VJW ’99 Elites
It was a tale of two games for the Warriors and Team Comcast. In the first contest, Team Comcast got the best of the Warriors by building a two-goal lead in the first period and holding on for a 3-1 victory. Michael Reilly was the lone scorer for the Warriors, while Team Comcast received scoring contributions from Frank Vitucci, Carson Briere and Kyle Silverman.
The second game was all about the host program as the Warriors displayed their offensive firepower by netting seven goals to shut out Team Comcast by a dominating score of 7-0. In what was a true team effort, six different players – Mike Sarnacchiaro (1-2-3), Cam Schmidt (2-0-2), Jack Keane (1-1-2), Craig Needham (1-2-3), Mike Reilly (1-0-1) and Paul Edson (1-0-1) – notched goals for the Warriors.
The ’99 Team Comcast team was led by head coach Darian Hatcher, the former NHL All-Star who played for several teams including the Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers.
Although the games from this past weekend do not factor into the regular-season record for each team, the experiences will no doubt make all three VJW teams stronger as they prepare for the official start of the season.
Then, in just two months, more than 50 teams from across North America will trek to Haverhill to take part in the 2009 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament. In addition to local powerhouses, the 2009 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament has received commitments from top national programs including the Cleveland Lumberjacks, New Jersey Jr Devils, Wilkes-Barre Junior Pens, Connecticut Lazers, Casco Bay, Florida Everblades, Long Island Gulls, Maine Freeze, North Jersey Avalanche and York Simcoe Express (Canada), to name just a few.