Greater NYC Ice Hockey League:
Sparked by two hat tricks from Rockaway’s own Bryant Elfant, the New York Stars Pee Wee II team captured fourth place in the Casco Bay Thanksgiving Invitational Tournament at Portland, Maine. In addition, tournament officials praised the Stars players, coaching staff and parents for their exemplary behavior during the event. ‘’If there was an award for sportsmanship and parent behavior we would have received it,’’ said Stars coach Jamie Grieco.
Stars opened the tournament Friday evening, November 26 against the Springfield, Mass. Junior Indians, losing 7-2 in a hard fought but truncated match.
The Indians, eventual tournament winners, came out aggressively and scored early but the Stars Joe Sadowsky tied it up on a sweet pass from linemate Charlie Baldini. The Indians put three more past stars goalie Jerry Conte to go up 4-1. But in the second stanza the Stars found their legs and held the boys from Springfield scoreless. The Stars got brilliant defensive work from Lenny DiMauro, Chris Massi and Captain Nick Mason. Forward Michael Long saved a goal but paid the price. An Indians attack threw Stars goalie Shawn Rock to the right side of the net. Seeing the play develop, Long threw his body across the open left side of net, smothered the puck and got an Indian stick to the neck for his effort. But it seemed the puck wouldn’t take a Stars bounce on offense. Breakaway opportunities by Massi and Jesse Byam- Katzman failed to finish. But the hard work finally paid off. At 3:50 of the period Massi put a nifty pass on the stick of teammate Roman Asudulayev. Racing down ice, Asudulayev unselfishly shot the puck to Elfant who fired for the score.
Because of an ice time problem, the third period was shortened to five minutes. A stunned Stars squad was unable to muster a sustained attack. The Indians put three more in net for the win.
On Saturday, November 27, at 6 a.m., the Stars suffered an 8-4 defeat at the hands of the tournament host team, the Casco Bay Travel B team despite Bryant Elfant’s first hat trick of the tourney.
The Stars came out strong in the first period. They scored early when Byam-Katzman popped a pass toward Elfant who put the puck in net at 11:17. Elfant scored twice more in the stanza, unassisted on a breakaway at 6:18 and at :57 on a pass from winger Joe DeLosa. But that would be all the offense the Stars could show in the period against Casco Bay, who scored twice in the period to put the tally at 3-2.
In the second period Casco Bay scored four more and added two in the third. For the Stars part, Jamie Grieco put a pass on the stick of plucky winger Ray Ebro, who broke down ice and used his soft touch to slide the puck under the pads of the Casco Bay goalie at 10:32.
Later in the morning the Stars were beaten handily by the Dove, New Hampshire Stars by a score of 6-1. The two teams were scoreless throughout the first period displaying great defense and goaltending. The period was marred for the Stars because of a questionable game misconduct and tournament suspension handed to forward Charlie Baldini. Dover scored first in the second and led until Jesse Byam-Katzman and linemate Joe Sadowsky combined on a picture book goal at 2:17. Byam-Katzman came blazing down the ice on the right side of linemate Joe Sadowsky, who carried the puck on the two-on-one breakaway. At the last second Sadowsky flipped the puck to Byam-Katzman who decked the goalie and fired it top shelf for the score and tie.
Dover scored once more in the second and the game was still within reach of the Stars at 2-1. In the third the Stars came out aggressively putting numerous shots on net but failed to score. Dover added four more in the third to put the match on ice.
The final action-packed game of the tourney proved sweet for the Stars who defeated the Southeast Conn. Warriors, 5-1, in a game that saw the team gel into a lean and well-oiled hockey machine.
A combination of great goal tending and offense allowed the Stars to dominate their opponents. The Stars goalie tandem of Shawn Rock and Jerry Conte held the Warriors scoreless until mid way of the second period. Bryant Elfant picked up his second hat trick of the tourney while Ray Ebro and Joe Sadowsky got their second goals. The defense and penalty killing units of Nick Mason, Chris Massi, Lenny DiMauro, Jamie Grieco, Michael Long and Jesse Byam-Katzman performed outstandingly.
The Stars scoring opened in the first period with Elfant, who took the puck in unassisted at 4:11. The game stayed tied until Elfant grabbed a bad Warrior clearing attempt and headed down ice. He slipped a pass to Ray Ebro who put the puck in top shelf for a goal at 8:46.
Three minutes later Elfant grabbed the puck at the red line, passed to winger DeLosa who passed it back to Elfant who slapped it in on the right side. The Stars gave up a goal at 3:03 on a shot that slithered through the pads of goalie Jerry Conte. But a minute later a move by Chris Massi put the puck on the stick of Elfant who gave it to Sadowsky for the goal. Elfant got one more at 4:53 of the third to completed the hat trick.
"The victory made the ride home a lot more pleasurable," said Coach Jamie Grieco. "The boys learned a lot about team spirit and sportsmanship in this tournament and I’m sure it will payoff in upcoming games." For more information on the Greater New York City Ice Hockey League visit the New York Stars web site at www.newyorkstars.com.