Ice Hockey Update
MVP winner Bryan Elfant absorbs check during Groton Christmas Tourney.
New York Stars Pee Wee II team entered the new millennium victorious, capturing first place in the 22 Annual Groton Junior Hockey Christmas Tournament at Groton, Massachusetts, December 27-30.
Stars winger Bryant Elfant, a Rockaway resident, was named most valuable player of the tourney, scoring three goals and providing three assists during the four game sweep by the New York squad that plays out of Flushing Meadows, Queens and the Abe Stark Arena, Coney Island, Brooklyn.
"The Stars victories were a total team effort," said Coach Jamie Grieco, noting that his boys scored a total of 21 goals while his goalie tandem of Jerry Conte and Sean Rock only allowed seven in net.
Duces from Captain Nick Mason and winger Paul Strenk powered the Stars past their first tournament opponent, the Pats, a squad out of Townsand, Mass., 6-2. First period action was even with both teams feeling each other out. However, the Stars pounced on the Pats in the second period scoring three goals, two from Mason and one from Strenk. The Pats answered back with one but in the third stanza the Stars never looked back. Strenk popped his second in net while linemate Michael Long, assisted by Charlie Baldini, got his first of the tourney. Winger Ray Ebro added one for good measure. The Pats could only manage one more goal and proved no match for the hard hitting defensive pairings of Mason, co-captain Chris Massi; Lenny DiMauro and Joe Sadowsky.
Stars winger Joe DeLosa put two goals in net within three minutes of the first period to lift his teammates past the host team, the Groton Renegades, 4-1. Hard working winger Ray Ebro got his second of the tournament and linemate Jamie Grieco also contributed his first.
The Stars faced off against the tournament favorite and perennial winner, the Flames of Manchester, New Hampshire. Two goals from co-captain Bryant Elfant helped give the New Yorkers a 6-2 win and a shot at the championship match. Grieco got his second of the tourney assisted by Strenk. Jesse Byam-Katzman also scored on a sweet pass from DeLosa in the slot. But the backbreaker for the Flames came as Mason, finishing off a hooking rap, speed out of the box and intercepted a D to D Flames pass at the red line. The captain took the puck all the way in and squeaked it past the stunned netminder. Defensman Sadowsky added one for the road, stick handling across two lines and riffling the puck past the Flames goalie for his first of the tourney.
The Flames came out determined and aggressive scoring first at 9:56 of the first period. A stunned Stars squad regrouped and at 5:40 the DeLosa scored on rebound after an initial shot on net from Elfant to tie. The Stars could feel victory within their grasp as winger Long scored unassisted 31 seconds later. At 1:42 of the stanza Strenk put a pass on the stick of Byam-Katzamn. He shoveled the puck to Grieco who fired it in net for the Stars third of the period. As the final second of the period winded down, Mason fired his patented slap shot from the point. The rebound was pickup by Elfant who put it home to give the Stars a 4-1 edge. But the Flamed were not about to roll over. With 14 seconds remaining the Manchester team scored to keep the match in reach.
The second and third periods, however, proved a defensive and physical duel for the two clubs. The Stars defensive duo of Mason and Massi, DeMauro and Sadowsky, shut down the Flames while the goalies Conte and Rock turned away every Flames attack.
Despite three power play chances the Flames were unable to put anything past the outstanding penalty-killing unit of Long, Massi, Sadowsky and Elfant. The final goal of the game came from Igor Valovoy who grabbed an errant Flames pass at the red line and zoomed down ice to score unassisted, giving the Stars a 5-2 victory and the tournament championship.