No Early Season Jitters for the VJW '98 Elites
The start of a new year is never easy on a hockey program, but the Valley Jr Warriors ’98 Elites are making a seamless transition into the 2009-10 season.

Just three weeks into the regular season, the Warriors have looked as sharp as ever as they are 6-0-2 and stand in first place in the New England Hockey League’s Peewee Minor American Division.

The team’s first four victories came during the NEHL Qualifying Jamboree held the weekends of September 19-20 and September 26-27. With the pressure high (the performance of each team in the qualifying jamboree determined the divisional seedings for the rest of the season), the players performed well as they came through with four key wins to guarantee them a spot in the Peewee Minor American Division.

“I was pleased with how we have started the season,” said head coach John Cusack, who is entering his ninth season with the Valley Jr Warriors program. “Our team needs to gel a bit more as we are still tweaking lines. We haven’t hit our stride yet, but we are off to a great start.”

Following the program’s annual summer camp in August, the Warriors took part in the 2009 Warrior National Showcase held at the Haverhill Valley Forum. The team passed that pre-season test with flying colors as the players collected first-place honors after posting five wins including a 4-1 championship victory over New Brunswick.

In order to better prepare themselves for the challenges ahead, the coaching staff scheduled a weekend scrimmage series against Team Comcast. After falling behind 2-0 in its first game, the Warriors went on to win both games and outscore the Maryland-based powerhouse by an 11-to-3 margin. Team leading scorer Jonathan Folsom netted six goals that weekend.
(Click here to see how other VJW teams fared against Team Comcast)

The team then set its sights on the NEHL Qualifying Jamboree where it registered two wins and two ties. The two big victories came against the Glades ‘98s and Albany ‘98s. In those two games, the Warriors outscored their opponents by a 10-0 margin. Gutsy ties were posted against strong squads from Nashua and Assabet.

With the NEHL seedings finalized, the Warriors continued where they left off this past weekend by winning its two weekend contests against the Seacoast Spartans on Saturday and then the Vipers on Sunday. Cusack’s young squad was stellar on both ends of the ice as the players netted 11 goals and allowed just five.

Impressive early-season results can be attributed to a strong core of returning players who have been together since their mite years as well as a group of newcomers who have embraced the program and the teachings of the VJW coaching staff.

“Everyone has been contributing which is helping us a great deal,” said Cusack, a multiple state champion who brings more than 20 years of youth hockey coaching experience to the program. “From top to bottom the players are working hard.”

While newcomer Nate Ash has quickly established himself as a force between the pipes, he is assisted by a solid corps of defensemen in front of him. Colin Murphy has been a big play maker for the Warriors, while John Lyman has been a rock along the blueline.

Teamwork and determination have been the keys offensively. Ryan Verrier has the ability to move the puck and find an open teammate, while Drew Cioffi is gaining strength with each passing game. The team has also found a way to combine finesse and strength. Joey Silva, for example, is a player who excels at the forecheck and can finish off plays. Ross Wahl has become a force in the league with his intense and strong play game-in and game-out.

Drew Merrick is another player who is a key cog as his ability to move the puck and make pinpoint passes will be needed as the season wears on and the competition becomes even fiercer.

The team will need everyone to come together as it faces a challenging stretch of league contests this fall. In addition, the players will need to be top form come November when it will take on the nation’s top talent at the 2009 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament. The Warriors will face off against talent such as Assabet Valley, Connecticut Clippers, Connecticut Lazers, Middlesex Braves, North Jersey Avalanche, Northstar Selects, Red Rangers, Seacoast Spartans and Wilkes-Barre.

Here is a list of the 2009-10 VJW ’98 Elites Team:

Nate AshJonathan FolsomEvan McDonald
Drew CioffiErin HealyDrew Merrick
Justin CollinsBrandon LafataCollin Murphy
Jack CusackZachary LaramieJoseph Silva
Tanner DerbyJohn LymanRyan Verrier
William Falter Ross Wahl

09-10 Winter Season
VJW U 16s Capture 2008 Massachusetts State Title
Valley Jr Warriors U-16s Capture Labor Day Title
Three VJW Teams Bask in NEHL Championship Victories
VJW '96 Selects Skate to Victory at Summer Cool-Off Tournament
Three VJW Teams Bask in NEHL Championship Victories
Valley Jr Warriors '99 Elites Capture WNS Title
Valley Jr Warriors '99 Selects Shine at WNS
King of What? - By Mike Lynch
Triumph and Courage - By Mike Lynch
Like Father Like Daughter; Alex Carpenter Is Carving Out Her Own Legacy
The Year to Remember Continues for Former VJW Player Chris Kreider
Valley Jr Warriors '96 Elites Shine at WNS
Keeping #5 Alive - By Mike Lynch
Tournament Action Returns to Haverhill in 2010
Magical Season Comes to an End for VJW '97 Elites at USA Hockey Nationals
A Class Act - By Mike Lynch
VJW U 16 II Team Skates to State Championship Win
VJW '97 Elites Loss Sets Stage for Third Day Showdown at Nationals
VJW '97 Elites Post 3-2 Win Over Columbus at USA Hockey Nationals
VJW '97 Elites Arrive in New York; Prepare to Take On Nation's Best
Former VJW Junior A Player Colin Mulvey Captures NCAA National Title
VJW '97 Elites Prepare for USA Hockey Nationals
Chris Kreider - Former VJW Standout - Leads BC to NCAA Tournament
Nothing is Impossible - By Mike Lynch
Valley Jr Warriors Excel at Labor Day Face-Off Invitational
Former VJW Junior A Star Cucci Shines in Hockey East Battle
Valley Jr Warriors '97 Elites Capture WNS Title
VJW Mite Selects Bask in NEHL Championship Glory
VJW '97 Elites Punch Ticket to USA Hockey Nationals in April
VJW '99 Selects Celebrate Mass State Select League Championship
VJW '98 Elites Capture New England Hockey League Title
Former VJW Junior A Standout Nets Year-End League Honors
Non Sibi - By Mike Lynch
What Can You Do For Brown? - By Mike Lynch
VJW Squirt Major Selects Make a Difference Both On and Off the Ice
VJW Squirt Major Selects Take Time to Help Others In Need
Valley Jr Warriors Coach Bob Sweeney Joins Beanpot Hall
Tewksbury Tough - By Mike Lynch
VJW Teams Battle For Titles at the 2010 JWK Holiday Tournament
VJW '98 Elites Jonathan Folsom Featured in Local Newspaper
Standing Tall - By Mike Lynch
VJW '98 Selects Capture Boston Jr Terriers Tournament Title
Taking the Pledge in 2010 - By Mike Lynch
Valley Jr Warriors '98 Elites Take On Bell Capital Cup Challenge
Former VJW Standout Chris Kreider & Team USA Are World Champions
Former VJW Star Kreider Named to the 2010 U.S. National Junior Team
VJW '97 Elites Take Their Game to Canada
Holiday Shopping List - By Mike Lynch
Haverhill Valley Forum Enjoys Its Fourth Year of Operation In Style
Eastern Junior Hockey League Featured in Recent USA Hockey Magazine
Walking Tall - By Mike Lynch
Former VJW Players Shine On Collegiate Scene
Call to Glory - By Mike Lynch
14th Annual Warrior Classic Comes to a Close
VJW Teams Battle at Mass State Championship Playdowns
Riki Retelle Earns EJHL Defensive Player of the Week Honors
VJW Teams Set For Mass Hockey Tier I & Tier II State Championship Playdowns
Valley Jr Warriors Junior As Enjoy Weekend Sweep Over CD Selects
Welcome Home - 4 VJW Teams Return After Strong Showing in Chicago
Courage - By Mike Lynch
VJW Teams Poised to Face the Best of the Best
VJW Junior A Team Making Big Strides
VJW U-16 IIs Continue Winning and Championship Ways
The Golden Tornado - By Mike Lynch
VJW '95 Elites - Picking Up Where They Left Off
Steve MacAdams Brings Experience & Success to VJW
USA Hockey Announces H1N1 Recommendations
Oct 5, 09
No Early Season Jitters for the VJW '98 Elites
Great Expectations - From Mike Lynch
VJW Mite Minors Off to a Fast (and Fun!) Start
VJW '99 Selects Make a Difference On and Off the Ice
VJW U-16 Midget Standout Brian Ward Heads to Dartmouth College
VJW Teams Post Impressive 5-1 Record Against Team Comcast
VJW '96 Selects Skate to Victory at Summer Cool-Off Tournament
Tom Terrific - Mike Lynch Reflects on Tom Brady
Valley Jr Warriors '98 Elites Capture WNS Title
VJW - Junior A Season Preview
A Happy New Year From Mike Lynch
VJW's JJ Layton Heads to Little League World Series
VJW Players Shine at 2009 USA Hockey Player Development Camp
Chris Kreider Selected No. 19 in 2009 NHL Entry Draft
VJW Tournaments Make a Return to Haverhill in 2009
VJW Junior A Team Welcomes Two Key Players for 2009-10 Season