2010-11-05 / Sports

Aviators Lose. No, Really, The Aviators Lose

By Rob Schwach

The New York Aviators pro hockey team lost their season opener 4-3 in Danbury, Connecticut last Friday night. That sentence may shock A’s fans and regular readers, as the words “Aviators” and “lost” were only seen in the pages of The Wave when a player was injured and out for the season.

After ending last season undefeated (25-0) and winning the league’s deciding playoff game by thirteen goals (14- 1), A’s fans were wondering when the Aviators would finally land (warning: aircraft and pilot metaphors will come liberally this season). They not only came back down to earth, but it was a “hard” landing (see what I mean).

After briefly adapting to the fact that their team might not end this season undefeated, the A’s added to the poor start in game one by dropping their next game to Danbury 4-0, and following that up with a loss last Monday to Broome County, 2-1.

While much of the core of last year’s squad is still wearing Aviators’ uniforms, the competition has changed drastically. As part of last year’s Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL), the A’s really had only two serious opponents after much of league ceased to exist by mid-season. The A’s continued their season against rag tag squads and club teams. The teams the A’s are competing against after moving “up” to the Federal Hockey League (FHL) this year are clearly much better than last year’s competition.

Opening Night in Danbury proved to be a “homecoming” of sorts, as more than 2,000 fans jammed into the Danbury Arena to witness the return of the “whale” to Connecticut ice.

The New England Whalers played in Hartford from 1972-79, and became the Hartford Whalers in 1979 when their league (WHA) was folded and they joined five other teams in the NHL (National Hockey League). The Hartford version eventually moved Tens of thousands of Whaler fans mourned the loss of their team, and many of them appeared in Whalers’ jerseys to welcome the newest incarnation, the Danbury Whalers.

The Whalers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early, before A’s defenseman Andrew Scampoli shot an Anthony Longo pass past Whalers’ goalie, Nick Niedert. Not long after the second period began, A’s forward John Goffredo tied the score 2-2, with Jarrett Rush getting the assist. The A’s fell behind 4-2 in the third period before Matt Puntureri scored a power play goal against Niedert, his former 2008-09 Jersey Rockhoppers’ teammate. The score didn’t change after that as the A’s lost 4-3.

Last Saturday, the A’s once again took the bus up to Danbury, but this time they were shut out, 4-0, as Niedert blocked all 33 shots the A’s took. A’s goalie Kevin Druce stopped 31 shots, but allowed all four goals, including one by Augie DiMarzo, who played briefly for the Aviators last year.

On Sunday, the Aviators continued the road trip to Broome County to face the Barons. Both teams were scoreless through the first period, but the Barons scored twice in the second period. Aviator John Goffredo scored the first and only goal for the A’s in the third period to cut the lead to 2-1, which would be the final score.

The A’s play on the road again this week before returning for the first two home games on Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13. Tickets and team information can be found at www.newyorkaviators.com.

With the move up to the FHL, A’s fans can now follow their team’s scores live on the Internet (www.federalhockeyleague. net) with a handful of games shown live online through a link on the league’s web site. Past games are archived for free, apparently, but to watch them live, there is a $6.00 charge.

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