The Valley Jr Warriors Junior A team capped
off 2010 in winning fashion with a huge 5-3 victory against the Green
Mountain Glades on Saturday in Haverhill. The latest win was especially
key for the Warriors because they were able to increase their
divisional lead over the Glades. The Warriors currently stand in third
place and five points ahead of the Glades in the EJHL’s Northern
"It was a big win for our guys heading into the holiday break," said Andy Heinze,
VJW Junior A head coach and general manager. "We have had a
challenging first half of the season but I know that the players have
grown as a result of the adversity."
One of the main challenges for Heinze’s
young crew thus far has been the injuries that have kept the Warriors
from enjoying consistency in the lineup. Days after the team welcomed
back Trevor Braun (Windham, ME), Erik Nemec (Metylovice, Czech) and Mike Miller (Wrentham, MA) from injuries, the team was without two of its key forwards in John Jackson (Bixby, OK) and Andrew Bonazza (Darmouth, MA) on Saturday.
The sign of a true contender, however, is
its ability to perform despite personnel challenges. On this weekend, it
was another player – Mike Frietag (Westmont, IL) – who came through for the Warriors by netting five points in two games.
Frietag exploded when his team needed him
most on Saturday when the Glades traveled to Haverhill for an afternoon
battle. After the Glades jumped out to a 1-0 lead following the first
period, the Warriors took control in the second period. Led by Frietag
and his linemates John Rogeri (Katy, TX) and Josh Woody (Sunderland, MD), the Warriors scored four unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-3 victory.
Frietag finished with one goal and three
assists while Woody collected one goal and two assists and Rogeri two
assists. Also scoring for the Warriors were Miller, Nemec and Zach Sarig (Wyommissing, PA). As a result of his performance this past weekend, Frietag now leads the team in scoring with 20 points in 29 games.
Perhaps just as important as the offensive production, Heinze was impressed with the defensive play of his players including Steve Edgeworth (Peoria, AZ) and Redmond Colson (New York, NY).
It was that defensive steadiness which
allowed the team to come just 18 seconds from pulling out a key tie
against the Glades on Friday. After back-and-forth play through three
periods, the two teams were deadlocked at 2-2. In that overtime period,
the Glades came through with the game winner at the 4:42 mark. Scoring
for the Warriors in that game were Bonazza and Connor McStravick (Philadelphia, PA).
Picking up his second victory on Saturday was newcomer Chris Eiserman (W. Newbury, MA).
Since his return to the Warriors last month, (he spent his youth playing in a blue and gold jersey), Eiserman has been a
welcome addition with a 3.0 goals-against-average and a 0.900 save
With the holidays just around the corner,
the players will enjoy a brief break before heading back to the rink to
prepare for the second half of the season. The teams’ first foe after
the New Year will be a familiar one as the Warriors will face off
against the Glades on January 1 and again on January 2.