Greater New York Ice Hockey League – New York Stars
The Stars opened their preseason by participating in the 2003 Liberty Championship Tournament, held at the Woodbridge, NJ Community Center.
Most followers of the Stars seemed resigned to the fact that this will be a long year for the team, since only two players remain from last year’s highly successful Long Island Hockey League championship team. But low and behold, the newcomers, plus the two veterans put on quite a show as they skated off the ice with the Tournament Championship trophy held high.
The Stars won the first game handily by a 10-1 score. Center Nicky Vukan nailed the first goal assisted by defenseman Danny Kaplan, 1:55 into the game. 4 minutes later it was 2-0, as center Michael Davie put home winger Michael Strenk’s pass. 2 shifts later, winger Joey Calabrese made it 3-0, assisted by Vukan.
Late in the period the Stars added another score. Once again it was Calabrese who found the net, assisted by Strenk. With 24 seconds to go in the period it became a 4-1 game as the Stars surrendered a goal from in close. The Stars picked up 3 goals within 7 minutes of the second period.
2 of the 3 goals were unassisted, and both brought a smile to coach Stan Monchinski’s face, as the goals were scored by Michael Biagioni and Chris Hayes. Both of whom played as mites (6 to 8 year olds) for the coach. The third goal belonged to Strenk, assisted by Davie, making it a 7-1 game.
Strenk put home a power play goal, assisted by Davie, to make it 8-1 in the final period. Calabrese then picked up his hat trick, assisted by Davie. And finally Davie closed out the scoring, assisted by Strenk, late in the game.
The Stars skated to a 6-2 victory, giving them a 2-0 record and first seed for the Championship game. The Coney Island boys went up by a 1-0 count midway through the first period as winger Chris Hayes ripped the puck home from the slot, assisted by forwards Nicky Vukan and Michael Strenk.
Michael Biagioni picked up the next Stars goal, assisted by Vukan and winger Joey Calabrese. Michael Strenk blasted home the Stars third goal unassisted. He also nailed the teams’ fourth score, this time assisted by center Michael David. The Stars surrendered 2 power play goals, but Vukan answered back with a goal, assisted by Strenk and finally an unassisted goal.
The Stars faced off against the NJ Patriots for the Championship and showed their rivals they meant business by scoring 36 seconds into the game. Defenseman Chris Gerardi set up the score with some fine stick handling and a low wrist shot, which was deflected home by winger Eddie Medina. Center Michael Davie also assisted on the play. If the quickness of that goal surprised the Patriots, the next one stunned them, as center Michael Strenk took the ensuing face off and blasted the disc into the net, just 15 seconds later. Just over two minutes more ticked off the clock when center Nicky Vukan made it 3-0 for the Stars, assisted by forwards Dillon Balsamo and Chris Hayes.
The Patriots answered back with a fine goal, 2:50 into the game, making it 3-1. But the Stars put the game away by scoring the next 3 goals in the period. Strenk at the 4:16 mark, assisted by Balsamo. Hayes at 11:20, assisted by Strenk and winger Joey Calabrese.
A power play effort from Vukan, assisted Balsamo and winger Michael Biagioni, made it a 6-1 game. Biagioni got his team a 7-1 lead midway through the second period, with a quick wrist shot, assisted by Davie and Hayes. The Patriots made it 7-2 with some great passing and a fine shot from the low shot. But the Stars picked up another power play goal late in the period making it 8-1. Biagioni got the goal, assisted by Medina.
Early in the final period Biagioni nailed his hat trick, assisted by Hayes. He then added his fourth goal, late in the period, to make it a 10-2 final, assisted by Davie and Strenk.
Although the followers of the Stars were impressed with the offensive display of the team, the coaching staff was very pleased with the defensive play, especially the goaltending. And so a good effort from defensemen, Danny Kaplan, Eddie Medina, Chris Gerardi, J.A. Cusmano, Chris McGee and netminders David Berger and Ryan Foreman, was recognized and appreciated.