Nearly one year after capping off a season to
remember, the Valley Jr Warriors U-16 II team is back to winning games and
This past weekend, the Warriors posted a 4-1 record en route
to winning the 2009 Columbus Day Classic Tournament held at the New England Sports Center.
The team sealed the championship with a 2-0 blanking
of Perinton SIR on Monday. In what was an exciting three days of competition,
the Warriors not only found a way to knock off top talent from across the
country but the players also avenged an early-season loss against a formidable
foe. All in all… it was yet another impressive performance by a group of
players who have learned how to win on all stages.
“They are playing their best hockey of the year
right now,” said Ed Mathews, who is enjoying his eighth season with the Valley
Jr Warriors. “The boys played their hearts out all weekend, and I could not be more proud of them.”
to the challenge of taking the ice against some of the top teams in the nation,
the Warriors are also faced with the fact that they have a clear target on
their back. After all, it was just one year ago that Mathews and his coaching
staff led the team to a 2008 Massachusetts State Championship title and the USA
Hockey Tier II National Tournament. Thus far the team is responding as well as
anyone could expect as it has posted an 18-2 record and is a perfect 8-0 in the
Massachusetts Tier II Midget Development League.
weekend was much of the same as the team came through with a 3-1 record en
route to its championship victory.
Leading the charge offensively in the team's opening 7-2 win over Pro Ambitions was Cam Roy
who netted three goals and one assist. Also
scoring for the Warriors were Andrew Pierce (1-1-2), Michael Cusack (1-0-1),
Adam Tanner (1-1-2) and David Evans (1-0). Dylan Costa added two assists, while
Craig Cataldo and Michael Mathews shared duties in net to share the victory.
Next up for
the Warriors was an important rematch with the Dallas Ice Jets. Just days
earlier, Mathews’ squad suffered one of its toughest losses of the years to the
Ice Jets on their home ice in Haverhill.
The players – in what was one of the most exciting and tightly-contested games
of the tournament – made sure that they would not be defeated two times as they
pulled out an important 2-1 win.
“The game I
was most impressed with was the Dallas
game,” said Mathews. “We had just played them Thursday night and
they beat us 10-3. We played our worst hockey of the year in the game from
start to finish. We came back to play them Saturday night
we had a short bench and the kids went out and played their best hockey of the
year. They out worked and out hustled Dallas
in every aspect of the game. It was the total opposite of the Thursday night
scoreless first period, Andrew Pierce gave his team a 1-0 lead when he netted
an assisted tally. Michael Gianelli followed suit just one minute later to give
the Warriors a 2-0 advantage. With time running out, the Ice Jets came within
one goal but a tenacious defense and strong netminding by Michael Mathews shut
down Dallas squad
through the final three minutes of regulation.
no letdown for the Warriors the following day as they cruised to a 7-1 win
against the Orlando Jr Knights. Derek Palm put the Warriors on the scoreboard
early in the first period, but the Jr Knights countered early in the second
period to even the contest at 1-1. The Warriors would explode for five unanswered
goals in the second period thanks to tallies by Dylan Costa (1-1-2), Christopher
Lepore (2-0-2), David Evans (1-0-1) and Derek Palm (2-0-2. Craig Cataldo
allowed just one goal to claim the victory in net.
morning semifinal contest, the Warriors took on a strong Minuteman Flames team.
Cam Roy jumpstarted the offense by netting his fifth goal of the tournament in
the first period. Michael Cusack and Christopher Lepore found the back of the
net in the second period to extend the Warriors’ lead to 3-0. Andrew Pierce
capped off the scoring in the third period en route to the 4-1 victory. For the
second time in the tournament, Craig Cataldo and Michael Mathews were
a formidable tandem in net.
championship showdown arrived, the Warriors were ready for the challenge as the
team blanked the Perinton SIR team team by a score of 2-0. It was perhaps one
of the most nail-biting games of the weekend as the two teams remained scoreless
unless the final minutes of regulation. With just over a minute remaining, Christopher
Lepore ripped a shot from the slot to put his team in front. Although Perinton
SIR pulled their goalie with time running out, Craig Cataldo was a rock in net
and Jonathan Pate iced the game with an empty netter.
goes out to the entire Valley Jr Warriors U-16 II team on a job well done.
Lepore, Andrew Pierce, Jonathan Pate, Michael Gianelli, Derek Palm, David
Evans, Michael Cusack, Cam Roy, Dylan Costa and Tyler Smith (who was unable to
compete in the tournament due to a knee injury)
Buttress, Jake Kulevich, Alex King, Daniel O’Connor, Adam Tanner, Nick Owen, Ernest
Guerrera and Jarrod Hines (who also played forward in the tournament)
Cataldo and Michael Mathews