CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove ice hockey team is headed to the finals of the county tournament on Monday and leading them there is senior Sam Giuffrida. With five goals and four assists in the tournament so far, Giuffrida is the Allstate Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week. The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley, Allstate Insurance Agent, 471 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove.
“Sam has been on fire as of late leading the team through the county tournament. In the quarterfinals against PCTI he had the hat trick and also two assists,” said Head Coach Erich Fleischmann. “In the semi-finals against West Milford Sam had two more goals and two assists. His biggest goal was scored while we were shorthanded. Kyle McCarthy was called for a penalty and Sam turned the game around by scoring shorthanded to tie the game at four, and we went on to win in OT 5-4.”
Giufrrida feels the team is coming together at the right time and that momentum is going its way.
“Our team has really put it together. The puck’s been going our way, and we’ve been finding the net. I think our hearts are really in it, and we all want the same thing,” Giuffrida said. “We have a lot of young skaters and I think we have more heart than talent, but in the long run that will take you a long way. Everyone has been putting the time in and that just motivates us all and helps us to work even harder.”
For PVCG the game against West Milford was a bit of revenge from last year when West Milford knocked them out of the tournament and stands out for Giuffrida as his favorite game so far this year.
“West Milford is a great team, and we knew it would be no walk in the park. We fought hard in the first and I think our nerves were a factor, but then we buried away three quick ones and pulled off the win in overtime,” Giuffrida explained. “It was just such an incredible comeback. We all came together for one goal -- to win. I don’t think we’ve made it to the finals since I was a freshman.”
Obviously the team’s current focus is on county finals -- they take on Lakewood on Monday -- but Giuffrida has other goals for the team as well.
“We want to get our name out there in states and make it further than we have in the past. I think we have the heart and the drive to do it,” he added.
With his high school hockey career coming to an end, Giuffrida is sad, yet thrilled with the way the team is performing.
“I’m just really happy with the way the season is turning out. The team is strong, the chemistry is really there and hopefully we can bury some more pucks in the finals and get the win. I’m really excited,” Giuffrida said. “It’s my last season and that’s sad, but it’s great to end it this way. I’ve loved every second of it and I’m definitely going to miss it.”
The Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley Allstate, 471 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.