New York Aviators Win NEPHL Championship
When the final buzzer went off at the Boss Arena in Rhode Island last week to end the North East Professional Hockey League (NEPHL) playoffs, the New York Aviators, a local team that plays its home games at the Aviator Sports Facility, found themselves league champions.
The game against the Rhode Island Storm was somewhat indicative of the league’s initial season, with the Avi - ators overwhelming their opponents 14-1, in a game that was, for all intents and purposes, over long before the final buzzer sounded.
The Aviators had a six goal lead less than four minutes into the second period, and the Storm never seriously challenged the A’s, managing only 16 shots on goal during the entire game.
The Aviators have been so dominant this season that they were 12-0 at one point, regularly beating the Storm, and thrashing the other team in the league, the Connecticut C-Dogs, by several goals each game. Just before the season began, two other planned franchises folded, leaving the league with only three teams. The Aviators have “made up” the balance of their schedule by playing “non-league” games against local club teams.
The Aviator offense in the final game was impressive and surprisingly balanced, with five players each scoring two goals; defenseman Mike Thomson, and forwards Mike Christensen, K.C. Timmons, John Goffredo, and Angelo Serse. Forwards Kyle Tyll and Jerry Car dinale, and defenseman Andrew Scampoli added a goal apiece. Chris - ten sen, Goffredo, and Timmons also had three assists each, and they were named the third, second, and first stars of the game.
The Aviator attack rarely ceased, with more than forty shots on goal. Team Captain Chris Holmes, and forward Jesse Felten had many chances, but did not figure in the scoring. De - fensemen Chris Robinson, Dan Cap piz - zuto, Vinny Geonetti, Andrew Scam - poli, Mike Thomson, and Mike Min ieri were solid at the blueline. Their play was one of the reasons that Aviator goalie Eddie Neville was rarely challenged. Both of the Aviator goalies, Mike Testa and Eddie Neville, played well during the season, but it was Nev - ille who tended the net for both of the playoff games against Rhode Island.
When the Aviators won the championship, they may have excised some of the ghosts left by their predecessors, the Brooklyn Aces, another minor league team that also played their games at the Aviator facility during the 2008-2009 season.
That team, also dominant during the regular season, managed to lose the playoff round against their rivals, the Jersey Rockhoppers. The league that the Aces played in, the Eastern Pro fes - sional Hockey League (EPHL), seemed to disappear as mysteriously as it start ed, and many of the players mi - grated to the new league this year.
Seven members of the Aviators play - ed for the Aces last year, and they form - ed the initial core of this year’s Aviator team. The team was coached by Rob Miller, himself a former Aces player and assistant coach.
While the league portion of the season has ended, the Aviators plan a ser - ies of non-league games against “club” teams, including both the NYPD (Feb - ruary 12) and FDNY (February 20) hoc key teams, as well as games against the Long Island Stingrays and Con - necticut C-Dogs.
The end of the NEPHL season leaves many Rockaway fans clamoring for next year’s plans. Rumors abound re - garding the addition of new teams to the league, or the possibility of joining another league.