The state-champion Hamburg junior varsity hockey team included Josh Franklin, Griffin Copolla, Brendan Hart, Will Agate, Mitch Vail, Colin Mills, Tosh Johnson, Conor McDermott, Evan Wright, Dylan Wagner, Dave Held, Robby Slemmer, Jack Miller, Brendan Maurer, Ben Pyne, Neil Dake, Alex Conomos, Alex Suchan and Jason Lucarelli. Coaches include Gregg Dake, John Miller and head coach Jim Mason. Missing from photo: Erik Szabala.
The Hamburg Bulldogs junior varsity hockey team concluded an exciting season with a 6-1 win over the two-time defending state champion Canisius Crusaders, to capture their first ever NYS JV Club Hockey Championship. Held in Ithaca, the tournament featured teams from Western and Central New York, as well as Long Island.
The Bulldogs won four consecutive nail-biters, defeating Grand Island 5-4, Canisius 4-3, Manhassett 5-4 and Niagara Falls 3-2, to advance to the finals. In the championship game, it was 1-1 until late in the second period, before Hamburg pulled away.
“This tournament demonstrated the value of team work and fighting through adversity — to win four one-goal games to reach the finals was incredible and a real reflection on the boys ability to persevere”, said head coach Jim Mason.
Hamburg finished the regular season 17-1 and won a semifinal in the league playoff tournament before dropping a 3-0 decision to Frontier. They then had to re-group in less than 48 hours and travel to Ithaca to take on the best teams in New York State. After losing in the semifinals of the State Tournament last year, the team had set its sights on winning it all and anything less would have been a disappointment.
“Over the past four seasons we have really tried to raise the standards for Hamburg hockey, beginning at the modified and JV levels. We want young players to come into the program expecting to excel and their coaches and teammates hold them to those standards,” said coach John Miller.
The 2012-13 edition of the JV Bulldogs was a veteran-laden team, comprised of one junior, 12 sophomores, six freshmen and two eighth graders. Many will move up to the varsity level next year and the coaches are looking for players to step up and fill the roles and build on a title-winning season.