Since advancing to the EJHL quarterfinals for the second straight season, Andy Heinze and his VJW Junior A coaching staff has been hard at work putting together another stellar group of players for the 2012-2013 season.
The program's recent success has drawn much attention... most notably from the USA Junior Hockey Magazine which published the following season preview for the Warriors in its September 2012 issue.
Warriors Hope to Improve On Fine Last Season
Nearly six months after advancing to the EJHL quarterfinals for the
second straight season and earning three post-season honors (the most of
any league program), the Valley Junior Warriors are still flying high
and packed with even more talent this time around.
"We are excited about the upcoming season and looking forward to
getting started," said Andy Heinze, who last spring captured his third
career EJHL Coach of Year honor. "We have made some strides forward over
the past few years and having a strong group of returning players will
certainly help us out of the gates."
Leading the charge and returning for their third year with the
Warriors are forwards John Jackson (Bixby, OK) and Brett Mason (Rowley,
MA) as well as defenseman Marcus Moles (Lake Placid, NY), who logged a
combine 114 games last season. In total, Heinze has seven returning
players. Included in that list are John Needham (Medford, MA), Albee
Daley (Averill Park, NY), Nick Pichette (Massena, NY), Devin Smith
(Andover, MA) and John Rogeri (Katy, TX).
"Our returning guys have more confidence in their own abilities and
they understand the challenges of playing junior hockey," said Heinze.
"They are also more physically developed which will make us faster and
more consistent through our lines and better able to match up against
the teams we will be competing against."
Those returning players will be complemented by an explosive incoming
group that will no doubt be led by three standouts who have recently
gained national attention.
In June, Brendan Collier (Charlestown, MA) was selected in the
seventh round (189th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the
Carolina Hurricanes. And just last month, Devin Tringale (Medford, MA)
and Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, MA) were part of a select group of
players who were selected to compete in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey
All-American Prospects Game on September 29 in Buffalo, NY.
Collier and Fitzgerald – who played together while leading Malden
Catholic to two straight Super 8 titles – will continue on at Boston
University and Boston College, respectively, in 2013, while Tringale has
committed his talents to Harvard University.
Also looking to make an impact immediately for the Warriors will be
defensemen Perry Holcombe (Cumming, GA) and Gus Harms (Pelham, NY) as
well as forwards Nick Leonard (Methuen, MA), Chris Hamel (Roswell, GA)
and Julian Fialkow (Newton, MA). Fialkow – much like Fitzgerald and
Collier – has already committed to play at Colgate University next fall.
"We worked very hard to find character kids who have talent but who
aren't done developing," explained Heinze, who works closely with his
assistant coach Jeremy Tabb in year-long recruiting efforts. "These kids
are ready to work hard and put forth a great effort for themselves, for
the program and for the players in the locker room."
While those players are known talents in this region, Heinze will be
welcoming two new netminders again this season in Marcus Born (Kumia,
Sweden) and Brendan Leahy (Reading, MA). Last year, a question mark in
net turned into a jackpot when Fabian Sivnert – whom Heinze saw only on
video prior to the start of the season - finished as the EJHL
Goaltender of the Year.
Heinze relied on his same sources in Sweden when he signed Born to
battle for time in net with Leahy, who was part of the Boston Jr. Bruins
team that won the 2011 USA Hockey Tier III Junior B National
"We know that Marcus is younger and we expect some growing pains but
there is no question that he has talent," said Heinze. "He and Brendan
will challenge each other and give us some strength and depth in a
position that sets teams apart from each other in this league."
Another addition to the program this year comes in the form of Mike
Boyle and his staff, who took over all strength and conditioning
responsibilities for the Valley Junior Warriors. They have also set up a
state-of-the-art training facility on the mezzanine level of the
Haverhill Valley Forum, the home facility of the Warriors.
"This is a big reason why a lot of these players have jumped on
board," said Heinze of Boyle, who - for more than 25 years - has worked
with the Boston University hockey team and currently helps to train the
United States Women's Olympic hockey team. "We now have everything in
our building, which allows the players to fit in more training time
between their college classes."
In addition to team practices, film work and off-ice training, the
Warriors also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Tabb and
other members of the Warriors staff - many of whom are current or former
NHL scouts - who have years of experience developing young players.
"We have more ice time available to us than probably any other
program," said Heinze. "Players know that they will get the best and
most comprehensive training when they come to the Warriors."
Heinze, a former Merrimack College standout who currently ranks 10th
on Merrimack's all-time scoring list, is looking forward to putting all
of the pieces together and seeing it culminate in something special
during the 2012-13 season.
"All of the players have worked hard this past summer and are ready
to go," said Heinze. "I have a lot of confidence in the group that we
have. As a coach it is now about putting it all together and getting the
most out of them."