2000-04-01 / Sports

Season End Sees Stars On Top

New York Stars (Mite Division) Game 1…

While most people spent Saint Patrick's Day watching the parade,
partying, or celebrating in some other manner, the Stars traveled to Willow
Grove, PA and participated in a spring hockey tournament. In their first game the Stars took on the Chieftans from the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland.

The Stars out-skated their opponents 5-1. Stars center Michael Kress opened the scoring at 3:11 of period one, as he took a pretty pass from his right wing Michael Biagioni, and beat
goalie Dan Newton. The Stars made it 2-0 at 6:26 of the second period, as defenseman Paddy Mead hit the net from the high slot, assisted by right wing Chris Hayes. At 2:04 of the period center Patrick Brown took a breakout pass from defenseman Joey Forcina, broke into the attacking and beat Newton from in close, making it 3-0. The score went to 4-0 at 6:30 of the final period with center Kenny
Fiorentino converting right wing T.J. Leonards pass. The Chieftans made it 4-1 at the 5:47 mark, as John Wally beat Stars goalie Ricky Cibrano, assisted by Anthony Franco and Ronnie Mascetti.

Stars left wing Nicky Amendola closed out the scoring at 2:55,
beating Newton, assisted by Fiorentino. The Stars defensive system and "Team First" concept once again served them well as they held the Chieftans to but eight total shots on goal for the game. Making life for goalies Cibrano and Chris Gerardi very easy this game. When the Chieftans were able to beat the Stars forechecking and backchecking they were met at the blue line by the Stars talented defensmen, Mead, Forcina, Michael Strenk and Jesse Wynn, who broke up the attack consistently. Mead, the veteran of the group has developed into a "total package" at
his position. He was awarded the MVP of the game for his two-way play.

The Stars coaches were thrilled with the physical play of Strenk in
the slot area. The first year player was impressive as he "cleaned the slot."

Game 2…

The Stars played the host team, The Royals of Willow Grove, PA in
their second game of the tournament and came away with a 6-0 victory.
This was a very close game for two periods as both teams played great
defense, with the Royals giving the Stars all they could handle.
The Stars held the Royals to 11 shots on goal. Although the Stars
had but 12 shots they were more accurate scoring on half their chances.

Stars right wing Chris Hayes, who was awarded the MVP for the game,
got the games first goal at the 2:21 mark of the second period on one of the best looking goals of the year. Hayes took a crisp neutral zone pass from his center Kenny Fiorentino, broke down the right side and from his off-wing launched a rocket of a back hander over the shoulder of the goalie, giving the Stars the lead.

The Stars went up 2-0 at 10:47 of the third period as center Patrick
Brown put home a rebound of defenseman Jesse Wynns' blast from the right point. Three minutes later it was 3-0, as center Michael Kress snapped home a goal from in close, assisted by Hayes and defenseman Michael Strenk. The score went to 4-0 for the Stars at 4:21 of the period as
Fiorentino put in a rebound of left wing Nicky Amendolas' shot. At 3:22 it was 5-0 as right wing T.J. Leonard scored off a great pass from left wing Dillon Balsamo. It was a power play goal for the Stars. Two minutes later the Stars scored again as right wing Michael Biagioni found the twine assisted by defenseman Joey Forcina.
Both Stars goalies, Chris Gerardi and Ricky Cibrano, looked sharp and
played their angles well. Of the 11 goals scored by the Stars in the first two games, eight have come from the sticks of different players, showing the great balance of the teams offensive attack.

Game 3…

Game 3 of the tournament found the Stars facing the Ice Hawks of
Easton, Maryland. The Stars scored late in the game to tie the Ice Hawks 2-2. The Maryland boys needing a tie or victory to advance to the
championship game, came out flying and hitting everything in sight; their
aggressiveness paid off as they put the puck past Stars starting goalie Ricky Cibrano 3:27 into the first period. The goal was scored by Chris Beauneman, assisted by Charlie Fuchs.

Less than three minutes later the Ice Hawks had a 2-0 lead as Jimmy
Ewing beat Cibrano assisted by Eddie Wagner. The Stars were out shot 7-5 in the first period as the Ice Hawks clearly out played the Stars.
The second period belonged to the Stars as they out shot the Ice
Hawks 10-3, but goalie Charlie Thrush made several outstanding saves to keep the Stars scoreless.
The Stars solved Thrush 1:03 into the final period, as their high scoring rookie left wing Nicky Amendola put in a rebound of center Michael
Kress's shot, making it a 2-1 game.
For the next 10 minutes the Stars peppered Thrush with shots, but
the goalie stood tall stopping everything the Stars sent his way.
In the meantime Stars goalie Chris Gerardi made 5 unbelievable saves
as the Ice Hawks tried to put the Stars away. With 47 seconds to go in the game and Gerardi on the Stars bench for an extra skater, the Stars won a face off deep in the attacking zone, the puck went to the extra skater, center Patrick Brown, who nailed the puck past Thrush to give the Stars the tie. Gerardi was awarded the MVP of the game for the Stars. His netminding partner Cibrano played very well, coming up with some acrobatic saves.

The Stars out shot the Ice Hawks 28-12 although both teams had
several close in shots.

Game 4…

The Stars took to the ice against the Ice Hawks in the Championship game of the Willow Grove, PA Spring Hockey Tournament. After the
Zamboni took care of the ice, the Stars took care of the Ice Hawks, by a 3-1 score.

The tempo was high and each team finished its checks in the opening
shifts of the game, neither willing to give the other an advantage. Then
suddenly the Stars struck, catching the Ice Hawks in a line change. The puck was played by the Stars defense to the right side of the neutral zone, where a flying Michael Kress skating cross-ice, picked up the disc and sped down the right wing. The Stars center fired a laser of a shot inside the far post to give the Stars the 1-0 lead at 7:40 of the period. It was the only goal of the period; a period which clearly belonged to the Stars as they out shot the Ice Hawks 9-2. Eighteen seconds into the second period saw the Stars pull off one of their best plays of the year. The Stars defense stopped the Ice Hawks in the defensive zone and quickly started their breakout. The puck went to right wing Michael Biagioni who snaked a great pass onto the tape of a streaking left wing Nicky Amendola. Amendola blasted a shot from the high slot as he was violently knocked to the ice and skidded into the goalpost flat on his face. But his shot struck Ice Hawk goalie Charlie Thrush so hard that he too fell to the ice, with the puck on the goal line in the crease, with players from both teams rushing for the puck, Amendola still had the presence of mind
to swipe at the puck, knocking it home.

Down now by a 2-0 score the Ice Hawks became more aggressive and took control of the game. But they could not get the puck by Stars goalie Chris Gerardi, who was brilliant in net. At 6:11 of the period the Ice Hawks capitalized as the Stars could not clear the puck from in front of the net. The puck was ripped past Stars
goalie Ricky Cibrano by Richie Bramble, assisted by Billy Noone and John Christie.

The Ice Hawks continued to press for the tying goal but Cibrano was
outstanding for the Stars, stopping some great chances. The period belonged to the Ice Hawks as they out played the Stars and out shot them 10-6.

The third period became a war as the Ice Hawks slashed and roughed
the Stars as they fought to even the game. When questioned about the
roughness of the game, the referee stated "It works both ways" and "I won't decide this big game, the boys will." Then at 5:51 of the period the Stars went up 3-1. The play was deep in the Ice Hawks zone. Stars defenseman Jesse Wynn passed the puck to center Patrick Brown, who centered it to the low slot where right wing Biagioni snapped it past Thrush. For Biagioni, who isn't the biggest, fastest, or most talented Star, it was another of many timely big goals this year. According to Stars Head Coach Stan Monchinski, "Biagioni is a winner, with a big heart."

But if the Stars thought the game was over, they were mistaken. Suddenly they were being hit with penalties. They managed to kill the Ice Hawks power plays, and then defenseman Paddy Mead closed off the boards on the right side with some great positional play and was nailed with a double minor penalty for roughing with 2:45 to play. The Stars moved center Kenny Fiorentino, a defensive standout, to the blue line with Wynn, Joey Forcina and Michael Strenk, Up front they went with Kress, Brown, and Chris Hayes and T.J. Leonard. The penalty killers were magnificent as they broke up rushes, stayed in their box and cleared their zone like professional players. So well did they execute that they allowed but one shot on goal while being shorthanded. The Stars out shot the Ice Hawks 21-16 and had an overall advantage in their four games of 81-47, again proving that defense wins games.

Michael Kress, who had a tremendous series of games, was awarded the tournament MVP trophy. Although Bob Houk, the director of the tournament, said that "the selection committee had a very tough job, as Patrick Brown, Kenny Fiorentino, Chris Gerardi, Paddy Mead and Michael Strenk all were given serious consideration for the award." Houk also stated that in all his years of hockey, he has never seen a
team at any level play their positions as well as the Stars. He also was impressed with the "unselfishness" of the players. As the coaches had stressed all season long, hockey is a team game, and the Stars showed that they are the team, in the "Year of the Stars."




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