CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Heading into the upcoming season thePassaic Valley/Cedar Grove Ice Hockey Team hopes that a team full of depth will take the next step in development towards their season goals.
“The focus is to try and see how far we can go this year, League Title, County Title and who knows from there, but that’s what we’re shooting from the start,” said Head Coach Mike Sheehan.
The Hornets Team will return 11 seniors on a squad that finished 12-10-1 in 2016. The experience that the group gained last year will undoubtedly help them in achieving their goals this season.
“The thing that’s been nice is we haven’t totally had to go back to basics to get things started this year. It’s been mostly adding on to last year for the most part and working a few new guys in,” said Sheehan.
On the fore-check PV/CG is led by Captains Alex and Nick Lopresti. The senior siblings led the squad with 30 and 13 goals respectively last season. Each player possesses a unique skill set that Sheehan hopes to capitalize on by playing them together on the same line this year.
“The big thing with them is speed, they are both quick players, they both have quick shots and so we’re going to try and put them in a position to utilize that this year,” said Sheehan.
Joining the Lopresti brothers on the offensive attack will be five other forwards looking to make an impact. Seniors Dan Lapinski and Joe Kubu who combined for 42 points last season lead the supplemental scoring group for PV/C. Sophomores Sam Giuffrida and Kyle McCarthy who notched 18 points last season along with newcomers Matthew O’Donnell and Owen Pisarczyk to round out the offense for the Hornets.
Defensively Captains Jack Prospero and Vincent DiNardo will spearhead the defensive blue line for the group. Last season the duo combined for 26 assists and are expected to keep the transition into the offense a fluid motion in 2017.
“They are our strong points back on defense…they’re big strong kids who have really developed over these last three seasons…they’re big, they’re strong and they can also skate so we’re looking for them to help out on the back end,” said Sheehan.
Rounding out the defense for the Hornets will be junior Stefan Schimpf and a rotation of the aforementioned Giuffrida and McCarthy.
In net for PV/CG will be a duo of senior Noah Vazquez and sophomore Nick DiNardo. Last year Vazquez collected 299 saves with a .87 save percentage while DiNardo saved 183 with a .86 save percentage.
“They kind of traded duties last year and we’re looking at the same [situation] right now…nobody has set themselves apart to grab the starting job so we have 1A and 1B and we’ll see how things shake out,” said Sheehan.
For the group, whose season starts on Saturday these last few days before the opening game is about building consistency and stamina so they can play effectively over the course of the game and season.
“We’re just fine tuning a couple things, eliminating a couple mistakes we made over the weekend [in preseason] defensively, and just getting it in our guys heads to move our feet, move their bodies, and move the puck as quickly as possible,” said Sheehan.
The Hornets will open their season Saturday at 5 p.m. at Floyd Hall Arena with a matchup against River Dell.