Pee Wee Major Elites Capture 2008 Massachusetts State Championship
In many ways, the season is just beginning for the Jr Warriors PeeWee Major Elites squad. After capturing the 2008 Massachusetts State Championship title last weekend, the team will now set its sights on USA Hockey Nationals which will be held on April 2-6 in Hackensack, NJ. The PeeWee Major Elites join the ’93 Elites, which earlier this year claimed the Massachusetts Tier 1 State Title for the fifth time.
Looking back on the season, Head Coach Bill Franzese can only marvel at the resiliency of his team. Despite all of the program’s past successes – including three NEHL titles in five years – this season was one to remember as the players battled through injuries and challenges unknown to them before.
“I am incredibly proud of this team’s toughness,” said Franzese. “The players fought through key injuries all season long but stuck together.”
It’s hard to believe that the team struggled because its record tells an entirely different story. The ’95 Elites finished the Massachusetts Select League regular season with a 28-2-3 record that included a goal differential of plus 162. They also cruised through the state playoffs by winning four straight games and outscoring their opponents by an 18-7 margin. The team heads into USA Hockey Nationals with an overall record of 45-9-5.
“The team had big wins during the season over national programs such as the Pittsburgh Hornets and Greenwich Blues,” noted Franzese. “We are excited to head off to Nationals, but we are also proud of the fact that this is the team’s second State Title.”
In the state championship game against Dual State, forward Brian Pinho put the Warriors on the board first for an early 1-0 lead. Linemate Trip Franzese helped to extend the lead with a tally of his own. Dual State battled back to even the contest at 2-2, but that would be as close as they would come to the title. Andrew Irving delivered the game winner off a blistering shot from the point. Soon thereafter, Tommy Potter added an insurance goal to put his team ahead, 4-2. An aggressive offense, stingy defense and solid goaltending protected the two-goal lead until the final seconds of the game when Shane Eiserman capped off the 5-2 victory with an empty netter.
The PeeWee Major Elites were led by a strong offensive and defensive corps that melded together in near perfect fashion when it most counted. During the state final run, the line of Brian Pinho, Trip Franzese and Shane Eiserman provided firepower up front while defensemen Andrew Irving and David Belluche added an offensive punch when most needed.
“The coaches felt that the team played well in all three zones and that special teams proved to be the difference,” said Franzese.
The depth of the ’95 Elites made the difference both during the regular season and playoff run. Each line added a critical dynamic to the team. The line of Cam O’Neil, Mark Azarian and Kyle Leone, for instance, provided key scoring depth while Tommy Potter, Sean Vasque and Justin Brosnan added hustle, defense and physical play to help balance the team.
Defensively, Craig Wallace, Chas Heseltine, Nick Pino and Cam Grenham used their skill and strength to pose a daunting threat to opponents all season long. And proving once again that teams can not succeed without strength in net, the goaltending tandem of Nick Phair and Matt Marchman took turns delivering strong performances.
The PeeWee Major Elites now have two weeks to bask in the glory of their State Championship success and prepare for what lies ahead at Nationals.
Congratulations to the entire team!!