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VJW ’97 Elites Prepare for 2014 USA Hockey U16 Tier I National Championship

New_Image_medium.JPGThe hockey season may be over for many, but one VJW team is just getting started and they have a lot to play for this time around.

More than four months after the VJW ’97 Elite team captured its third Massachusetts State Championship title, the players have come back together and have their sights set on a national title.

The talented squad has been practicing together for the past few weeks in preparation for the 2014 USA Hockey U16 Tier I National Championship, which is scheduled for April 2-6, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Click here to view the team’s schedule.

Playing With Emotion

This marks the third time that this Warrior squad has advanced to the USA Hockey National Championships, but this year they are playing for more than a title.

The players and coaches will be playing in honor of two great men – Paul Gilmartin and Billy McDonough – who passed away this past season and who made an indelible mark on the lives of these young boys.

Gilmartin was not only the president of the Valley Jr Warriors, but he was also the visionary behind the program which has grown to 17 youth and two junior-level teams. As one of the older youth teams, the ’97 Elites were especially close to Paul and felt the impact of his support throughout the years.

McDonough, whose grandson Ryan is a VJW ’97 team member, was also one of those individuals who went above and beyond to give back to this team and was considered a “grandfather” to many players.

“The kids are playing with a lot of emotion this time around,” said Steve MacAdams, head coach of the VJW ’97 Elites. “They not only want to win for themselves, but they want to win for Paul and Billy to show them how much they meant to them.”

They are also looking to show the hockey world that they can compete despite losing three of their top players heading into this season.

Noah Hanifin, Casey Fitzgerald and Colin White left the Warrior program this year in order to play for the U.S. National Under-17 Team. All three players have emerged as top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft and many felt that the team they left behind would not be able to enjoy continued success.

“It makes it more exciting for them,” said MacAdams. “The focus was always on those three players for so many years, so all of the kids on this team are pulling together, putting team first and working for the same thing.”

Team Pride

The word “team” has indeed been synonymous with this group for years.

Nearly 70 percent of the players have been together since they were mites and have a comfort level with each other that many teams would envy.

“I have been with some of these kids since they were eight years old,” said MacAdams, who also serves as the VJW director of program development. “We got back on the ice last week. They are so comfortable playing with each other and our systems have not changed, so we were able to focus on just getting their legs and hands back and ready to go.”

Success has followed this team through the years as they advanced to the USA Hockey National Semifinals as U12s, the quarterfinals as U14s and will now look to improve on that finish as U16s.

“The kids have been there so they know what to expect,” said MacAdams. “We have played in so many tournaments that they should know how to handle the atmosphere.”

Making it even more of a challenge will be the fact that Warriors will face off against the host team – Team Wisconsin – in its second game of the tournament. Team Wisconsin is currently ranked sixth in the nation.

“It’s going to be tough,” said MacAdams, whose team opens up the national tournament against the Wilkes-Barre Knights on April 2. “But we are going to keep our focus on one game at a time and see what happens.”


2014 USA Hockey U16 Tier I National Championship

Wednesday, April 2 @ 4:00 p.m.
#21 VJW U16 vs. Wilkes-Barre Knights

Thursday, April 3 @ 12:00 p.m.
#21 VJW U16 vs. #6 Team Wisconsin

Friday, April 4 @ 6:00 p.m.
#21 VJW U16 vs. #3 Colorado Thunderbirds

INDEX
VJW '97 Elite Standout Netminder Elijah Harris Commits to Brown University
2015 Set to be an Unprecedented Year for American-Born & VJW Players
VJW Alum Chris Kreider Emerges as An NHL Game Changer
Valley Jr. Warriors Put Massachusetts Back on the NHL Map - Part I of III
VJW Alum Noah Hanifin Named to U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team
Looking Forward to 2014 VJW Tournaments
Former Warrior Mike Vecchione Helps Union College Win First National Title
VJW '97 Elites Cap Off Superior Season at USA Hockey National Championship
It's Game Time for VJW U16's at the 2014 USA Hockey National Championship
Former Warriors - Fitzgerald, Silk & Vecchione - Highlight Frozen Four
Three VJW Junior A Players Announce Plans for 2014-15 Season
Mar 26, 14
VJW ’97 Elites Prepare for 2014 USA Hockey U16 Tier I National Championship
Three VJW '00 Elites Participate in Prestigous East Coast Young Guns Showcase
VJW Players Highlight 2014 Super 8 Hockey Championship
Valley Jr Warrior Junior A Team Soars Into Second Round of EHL Playoffs
A Parent's Perspective: Reflections On Another Great Season of Warrior Hockey
Valley Jr Warriors Post Perfect Record on NEHL Championship Sunday
Valley Jr Warrior Teams Win Three NEHL Championship Titles
In Memory of Paul Gilmartin, Sr.
VJW Alums Lead USA Under-17 team to Another International Title
Thanks to VJW Alum Alex Carpenter For Representing Team USA at Sochi
Valley Jr Warriors Named Charter Member of E9 Elite Hockey League
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VJW Alums Ryan Fitzgerald & Brendan Silk Celebrate 62nd Beanpot Tournament Win
Former NHL Stars Ken Hodge & Scott Lachance Named VJW Bantam Coaches
VJW Junior A Standout Charlie Widmar Commits to St. Olaf College
Did You Know? 10% of the Beanpot Players Are Valley Jr Warrior Alums!
Former Warrior Ryan Heavey Stands Tall for Babson Beavers
Former VJW Player Jake Kulevich Has Found a Home at Colgate
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VJW Teams Head to Rhode Island for JWK Tournament
VJW '00 Selects Enjoy A Night at Frozen Fenway
Former Warriors Lead Team USA to a Gold Medal at the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challen
Alex Carpenter Named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team Roster
VJW '03 Elites Advance to Semifinals at the North American Frozen Cup
Two Former Valley Jr Warriors Players Continue Impressive Carpenter Legacy
Mark Your Calendars Today for 2014 VJW Tournaments
VJW '97 Elites - Massachusetts State Champions
VJW '00 Selects Take Time to Give Back During the Holiday Season
VJW '01 Elites Impress and Dominate at 2013-2014 Super01 Series Tournament
Valley Jr Warriors Youth Teams Continue NEHL Player of the Week Streak
Charlie Widmar & Shane Tracy Named EHL Mid-Season All Stars
VJW '00 Elites Make National Statement; Now Ranked 12th In the Nation
Another Major Success For the Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament
VJW Teams Win Three of Six Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament Titles
Former Warrior Chris Kreider Nets First Career NHL Hat Trick
VJW Teams Prepare For Playoffs at Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament
2013 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament Kicks Off in Haverhill
Four Former Warriors Reunite in NCAA Division I Showdown
Ken Hodge & Ryan St. Jean Backstop VJW '00 Elites to a Great Start
VJW Junior A Squad Scores Four Power-Play Goals in League Win
Cam Askew Takes his VJW Talents to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
From the VJW to the NHL: Chris Kreider and Corey Schneider
Logan Bridgewater Named NEHL Player of the Week
VJW '99 Elites Advance to Mass State Championship Finals
Hunter Wilhoite Named Eastern Hockey League Defensive Player of the Week
Former Warrior Ryan Fitzgerald Named Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week
VJW U16 Tier I Team Capture 3rd State Championship & Are National Bound... Again
VJW Junior A Team Happy to Be Back Home
Four VJW Players Receive NEHL Player of the Week Honors
VJW '00 Elites Capture 2013 East Coast Classic Prep Cup Tournament Title
VJW '97 Elites Dominate and Win 2013 Midget Fall Classic
Jack Toohey Named the New England Hockey League Player of the Week
Fitzgerald, Hanifin & White Suit Up for U.S. National Under-17 Team
VJW Junior A Team Falls to Northern Cyclones in Week 2
Brendan Parent of the VJW '99s Named NEHL Player of the Week
VJW '03 Elites Advance to Finals of 2013 AAA Rochester Invitational
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VJW Teams Perform Well During Week 1 of NEHL Qualifying Jamboree
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