VJW '97 Elites Win States; Are National Bound Again
To say that it has been a whirlwind two weeks for the VJW ’97 Elites would be an understatement.
The talented group of 20 players returned home a week from Sunday after advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2011 Bauer International Invitational in Chicago, Illinois.
Days later, the Warriors took to the ice once again to compete for the U-14 Tier 1 State Championship. Despite weary legs, the team prevailed in dominating fashion. They outscored their opponents by a 40-to-1 margin and earned a trip to USA Hockey Nationals for the second time in three years.
“We played 10 games in the last two weekends,” said Steve MacAdams, head
coach of the VJW ’97 Elites. “It was a lot of traveling but it was fun.
They are all looking forward to Nationals, but it has been really nice seeing the kids improve from where we
started in August to where we are now.”
That journey has been something to marvel at, for sure.
in the country according to www.myhockeyrankings.com. the Warriors have
been nearly unstoppable in league and non-league play. The squad has
posted a 6-1 record in New England Hockey League (NEHL) action and was
victorious at the 2011 Warrior National Showcase held back in August.
In Chicago, the Warriors knocked off two strong Canadian teams before
notching its third victory against Westchester Express. In the
quarterfinals where the teams played just two periods, the Warriors ran
into Compuware 97 which is ranked fifth in the nation.
"We didn’t play our best out there in any of the games but we got off
to a slow start against Compuware,” said MacAdams. “They started off
quick and jumped on us and it was 3-1 after the first period. We
controlled the whole second period but just ran out of time without that
third period. They are always a good team, but we were evenly matched.”
Upon their arrival home, the Warrior players had a few days to return to school,
practice and prepare for the Massachusetts State Championship. Peaking at the right
time, the Warriors rolled past the 495 Stars and the Northstar Selects
by identical scores of 12-0. They then went on to defeat the Greater
Boston Junior Bruins and the Springfield Rifles to set up a championship
showdown with another NEHL team - the East Coast Wizards.
In that final game, the Warriors continued their strong play with a 6-0 victory to claim their ticket to Buffalo in April.
“We knew at the beginning of the season that it was a national year so
it was something that has kept them focused,” said MacAdams, who led
this team to the semifinals of the 2010 USA Hockey Tier I National
Championship. “It is not just about Nationals and winning. Our goal has
been trying to prepare them for high school and to develop them and get
them to be better players.”
The VJW ’97 Elites will play one final league game - on Saturday against
the Monarchs 97's - before the players go their separate ways to
compete for their high school hockey teams. They will come back together
in March in order to prepare for Nationals.