The youngest team in the VJW program – the Mite Minors – took a break from their normal practice schedule to have some fun and teach some "bigger" players just how tough the game of hockey can be!
Just days before Christmas, head coach Jack Blaeser used the team’s weekly Wednesday practice session to organize the first-annual "Players vs. Parents" game in Haverhill.
In what turned out to be an exciting and very competitive matchup, the young Warriors fell in a heartbreaker to their parents by a score of 7-5.
Despite being disappointed by the outcome, after the game the players welcomed the family and friends who cheered from the stands on ice for a fun skate around before everyone moved to the mezzanine for a pot-luck celebration!
"While the kids had a blast, it was the parent’s reaction that really surprised me," said Blaeser, who took a break from his role behind the bench to serve as referee. "They loved it and it was the first opportunity for most to play against their sons in a somewhat formal setting. Many of the parents were surprised by how fast the game was at this age."
Included in the many highlights from that afternoon showdown included fathers Stephen Defeo and Joe Cappello being called for controversial penalties and mother Rosie Dorrington making a great defensive breakaway stop on Warrior standout Dominik Cignetti!
"I must say I have a new perspective for how talented these kids are," said Paul Burke, whose son Owen plays for the Warriors. "Getting outskated by a seven year old is definitely an eye-opener."
The young crew of seven year olds has been surprising not only their parents but the New England Hockey League (NEHL) this season. Considering that most of the players had never competed in a seven-month long league season before, the coaches and parents have watched as the youngsters have grown with each passing month and become a force in the NEHL’s Mite National Division.
"These kids have been working so hard since the first day we came together back in August," said coach Mike Tinkham, a former Edmonton Oilers draftee and professional player. "Our weekly practices as well as the skill sessions that [VJW Director of Player Development] Fred Devereaux manages each Monday have made a huge difference especially in terms of our overall team speed, passing and confidence."
Heading into the New Year, the Warriors – who compete primarily against ’02 teams – are tied for second in the Mite National division just two points behind the Cyclones ‘02s. In the last three weeks, the team is undefeated with key league victories against the Monarchs, Assabet (2) and Avalanche. During that stretch, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by a 23-to-5 margin.
"Everyone is working hard and we are getting better with each game and that’s all you can ask at this level,” echoed coaches Peter Cignetti and Vinnie Bomal.
While the players and coaching staff will now focus on the league games that lie ahead in 2011, the players will not soon forget the special memories created during the “Players vs. Parents” game. In fact, neither will the parents!
Great job by all VJW Mite Minors:
- #22 Jake Becker
- #6 Tim Berube
- #12 Drew Blackwell
- #7 Pierce Blaeser
- #17 Brady Bomal
- #10 Owen Burke
- #16 Daniel Cappello
- #4 Dominik Cignetti
- #55 Ethan Crawford
- #5 Seamus Cummings
- #11 Shane DAgostino
- #18 Parker Defeo
- #8 Jackson Dorrington
- #9 Ryan McGuinness
- #23 Joe O’Keefe
- # 20 Camden Tinkham
Jack Blaeser, Bill Blackwell, Vinnie Bomal, Peter Cignetti
and Mike Tinkham