UNION, NJ - The Junior Highlander U-10 hockey team captured the Spring Championship title by defeating Bayonne Rangers Hockey Club in a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory at Union Sports Arena on Father's Day.
The championship team is a town recreation team comprised of players from Berkeley Heights and New Providence. "When we started the Spring Season, the main goal was to give these kids - who all play on different travel teams and recreation programs throughout the Winter Season - a chance to play together and make new friends with other kids in their surrounding community who share their passion for ice hockey," said Coach Matt Anderson.
"For this team to compete against local travel teams was amazing to see," said Anderson.
What was special to Anderson about this Father's Day Championship victory was the fact that the goals were scored by five different players.
After falling to an early 1-0 deficit, Hayden Cear (Berkeley Heights) ripped a shot from the point to tie it up. First year player Jacob Wachtel (New Providence) shot the go ahead goal followed up by a goal by Teddy Baum (Berkeley Heights) to take a 3-1 lead in the second period.
The Rangers narrowed the lead by one. Daltry Ferrigno (Berkeley Heights) scored half way into the 3rd period on an individual effort to regain the two goal lead, but the Rangers fought back and scored twice in the same shift to tie the score with about five minutes left.
First year goalie Scott Capan (New Providence) stole the show making save after save to keep the game tied to send it into the overtime period, when Ryan Siksnius (Berkeley Heights) blasted a shot from the top of the circle to end the game in sudden death.
The spirited camaraderie built over the three month period showed every time they scored a goal. "They piled on top of each other like they'd been best friends since they were born," said Anderson. "That's what youth sports are all about, and it's what makes youth hockey great - bringing people together."
Anderson has been building the U-8, U-10 and U-12 programs through recreation leagues at Union Sports Arena over the past three years. "Not only were these programs strong in numbers, but also blessed with exceptional talents for those age groups," said Anderson.
Anderson took the realm three years ago as head coach for the Gov. Livinston hockey program. Anderson knew he had his work cut out for himself in building a pipeline to feed his high school program. "I knew this was something that had to be done," said Anderson. "All the perennial hockey powers in the state have one thing in common - a great local youth hockey feeder program. We had to make ice hockey more accessible to kids of all ages and skill levels."
Anderson has worked to build a positive culture within a growing hockey community in these two towns. "We get more and more players starting each season at all ages because we are flexible and inclusive and the talent pool has grown significantly because of that," he said.
While it's not all about winning, but Anderson admits that it's fun to watch these 9 and 10 year old players parade around with a trophy they won together.
BH-NP U-10 Junior Highlanders:
#74 - Scott Capan (Goalie - NP)
#16 - Ryan Siksnius (BH)
#20 - Jeremy Siksnius (BH)
#26 - Hayden Cear (BH)
#21 - Jacob Wachtel (NP)
#13 - Carter Wahlers (BH)
#46 - Teddy Baum (BH)
#19 - Sebastian Leach (NP)
#22 - Patrick Merriman (BH)
#34 - Daltry Ferrigno (BH)
#11 - Conor Gilleece (BH)
#3 - Sam Newman (BH)
#10 - Michael Novotny (BH)
#8 - Alec Novotny (BH)
#87 - Jake Barth (BH)
#15 - Jake Vick (BH)
#67 - Harrison O'Brien (BH)
#2 - Lucas Black (BH)
Coaches - Matt Anderson, Gregg Novotny, Steve Wachtel
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