CHATHAM, NJ - Ryan Sordillo has always been pretty good at seeing plays develop on the ice. So, when the Chatham junior added improved stick-handling skills to that ability, he took his hockey game to another level.
That became apparent during the first game of the Essex County Holiday Tournament at Codey Arena when Sordillo was credited with five assists in Chatham's 6-0 win over Vernon.
He followed with an assist in a 4-0 win over Verona and capped his holiday play with two goals in a 3-0 victory over Oratory.
Sordillo produced two goals and six assists in the three-game run that earned Chatham the championship of the Essex County Holiday Tournament.
Ryan Sordillo is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
"His vision of the ice and his skill level contribute to the great start he has had this season," Chatham coach Brendon Herr said. "Ryan has been tremendous for us this year. There is a huge difference in his play from last year to this year in that he is constantly around the puck and wants the puck on his stick all the time.
"He has led by example with his play and hard work on the ice and his teammates really look up to him for that. He's not afraid to challenge defensemen and is shooting more this year as well. Ryan has certainly been a big part of our success thus far in the season."
Chatham (5-1-2) has climbed to No. 16 in the NJ.com state ice hockey rankings with Sordillo leading the team with 14 points on seven goals and seven assists. He's already matched his goal total for all of last season when he ended with 17 points in helping Chatham reached the NJSIAA Public C state final.
"I've played with Ryan since we were kids," junior Declan Curry, who has played on the same Chatham line with Sordillo for two seasons, said. "Over the years he has turned into a very dangerous player by just trusting himself. He’s a very relaxed offensive threat.
"This season we have just put a lot more trust into each other. We look to be great and better everyone else. It’s an amazing feeling to be playing with him once again, and we want to bring home some more hardware together."
Sordillo has played both varsity tennis and ice hockey for the Cougars since he was a sophomore, playing doubles for Chatham's NJSIAA state sectional tennis championship team last spring. But he has turned more of his attention toward ice hockey this year and it's paying off.
Sordillo has improved his control of the puck by practicing with golf balls in his basement, which has led to more accurate passing and an increase in shots on goal.
"My vision and passing are my best skills," Sordillo said. "I'm really confident on the puck right now and I'm shooting a lot more. My teammates are working hard to get open and I've been able to see the passing lanes open up. I work well with Declan because he gets open, and he makes smart decisions with the puck.
"I've been working a lot more on my stickhandling the last couple months and it's helped me maneuver out of tight situations. Skating is a completely different skill that no other sport requires. It's a lot faster than other sports and you have to make a lot of decisions really fast."
Sordillo also sees the game from a unique perspective when he's not wearing a Chatham uniform. The 16-year-old has been refereeing ice hockey games for three years. He's now a level 3 official in games he refs at Mennen and Twin Oaks.
"I learned that referees have a hard job," he said.
Editor's note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.