Work In Progress: Aviators Lose Two Of Three To Start Season
The Brooklyn Aviators looked pleased after a win in their season opener against defending champions, the Akwesasne Warriors, 3-2, on October 27. The team began their course toward a Federal Hockey League championship by boarding a bus for the six hour trip to Maine early that morning.
The game, played at the Androscoggin Arena, pitted last year’s league finalists in a battle that league executives and locals hoped would generate enough interest to lead to a Maine FHL franchise next season. Several hundred locals (and three intrepid Rockaway residents clearly out of their element) came out to watch quality hockey.
Akwesasne’s Miguel Delisle scored less than five minutes into the game. Warriors forward and former NHL player Pierre Dagenais scored almost halfway through the third period to give his team a twogoal advantage. But new Aviator goalie Tommy Lee, who spent last year in the SPHL, seemed to decide that enough was enough, and didn’t allow another goal for the rest of the game.
In the meantime, newly acquired forward Chris Ferrazzoli scored in the second, with assists from Jordan Bernier and Chris Jones, to give the Aviators some momentum. Anthony Iaquinto continued the Aviators’ scoring in the third period, with assists from Andrew Oswiak and Jarrett Rush. Talented newcomer Bernier would score later in the period, from Jones and Ferrazzoli for what would prove to be the game winner.
After a brisk exercise behind the hotel the next morning after breakfast, the team set out for game two of the season, against the Cape Cod Bluefins in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
Cape Cod’s Kevin Matheson scored the first two goals of the game for Cape Cod, against A’s goalie Peter Dundovich. Aviator Casey Mignone answered back with two goals of his own, one in the second period, from Andrew Scampoli and Bernier, and one in the third, from Anthony Monte. The Aviators had many scoring opportunities, with constant pressure from Jesse Felten and Andrew Scampoli, but to no avail. The game went into 3 on 3 overtime when Cape Cod’s Dan Gordon scored to win the game for the Bluefins.
Returning home on October 29, the Aviators played their home opener, their third game in three nights, against the New Jersey Outlaws, one of the FHL’s new teams. Despite a strong finish with Aviator goals by Jesse Felten and Anthony Monte in the third period, the Outlaws won 7-4. Former Aviator Matt Puntureri had five assists to add to Travis Kauffeldt’s hat trick to lead the attack.
Aviator fans were left wondering what happened over the season’s first three games. Conventional wisdom seemed to predict a hard fought contest with Akwesasne, but relatively easy contests with new teams from Cape Cod and New Jersey. Yet, the opposite happened. As the team got some much needed rest, it was clear their work was cut out for them as the season enters its second week.
Many of the Aviators’most dependable scorers, Puntureri (New Jersey), Mike Thomson (?), and John Goffredo (New Jersey), are elsewhere. It forces Felten, Scampoli, Mignone, and their new teammates Ferrazzoli, Bernier, and Jones to step up. With new netminder Tommy Jones still settling in to the team, the Aviators defense will be counted on more than ever to keep the games close.
Aviator Coach Rob Miller signed two new players right after the season’s first weekend. He added forward Vladimir Nikiforov, who played three seasons in the OHL and three in the ECHL sandwiched around nineteen games in the AHL, only one step away form the NHL. Originally from Lithuania, but raised on Long Island, Nikiforov’s father, Aleksey, has coached many NHL stars including Darius Kasparaitis, Matt Gilroy and Chris Higgins.
Coach Miller also added to his defensive corps, signing former Yale University player, Ken Trentowski.
The Aviators started slowly last year, before eventually going on a 21-game winning streak. While no one expects that to happen again this year, the Aviators hope to find some of last year’s magic as the season progresses.
Schedule: The Aviators go on the road tonight for their first visit to Danbury at 7:35 p.m. Brooklyn will return to the Aviator Sports Complex on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against newcomers Cape Cod. Vermont visits on Thursday, November 10 at 7:35 p.m.