Apple Core Minor Jr. B
April 5, 2010
NY APPLE CORE WINS 2010 JR. 'B' NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
LONG BEACH ARENA--TITLE TOWN, USA
MARLBORO, MA.-- In an ending straight from Hollywood, the NY Apple Core Jr. 'B' team won the USA Hockey Nationals this past weekend in Marlboro, MA. After this all sinks in for all of the players and staff, this truly amazing weekend will be remembered as one of the best hockey experiences any of the players or coaches has ever had. There were over (40) teams in the Nationals which featured an 'A' division, 'B' division, 'C' division and "Best of the Rest Division. With over (100) scouts in attendance, and 100's of spectators, the NESC was packed all weekend. You couldn't walk 5 feet without getting into a conversation with someone from another team, League, or scout. There were (5) games going on all day, every day at the same time. Some coaches walked an estimated 20 miles over the weekend going from rink to rink watching the action. The 'Core's season was a great one....It included a (34) game winning streak, a Conference Championship, a Trip to the Final Four and a National Championship. The team prepared hard for the Nationals working on systems, that at the end, saved the day and worked extremely hard in the small details that win games. The team arrived up in Boston Thursday night and settled in across the street from the rink. With (1) game a day the hotel stay would wind up a (6) day affair.
In the first game on Friday, the opponent was the tough Central Penn. Panthers who won the Silver Medal last year. They were a great team in the MET League. Because of the set-up this year, with no wild card, you had to win your bracket to advance to the semi-finals. Apple Core's bracket included Central Penn, the Michigan Mountain Cats and arch rival the LI Royals. In the Central Penn game, Frank Musick opened the scoring with a great point shot in the first period to give the 'Core a 1-0 lead. CP tied the score at 1-1, but (3) minutes later Mike Cambria gave the 'Core a 2-1 lead at the end of one period of play. Alex Caruso assisted on the goal. Caruso scored the only goal of the hard fought 2nd period. Ron Kokas and Mike Cambria assisted on the goal. The 'Core took a 3-1 lead into the third period. CP made the score 3-2 on the PP 7 minutes into the third, but the combination of Jeff Molner in goal and great forechecking shut down CP for the last 10 minutes. The 3-2 win gave the 'Core their opening big win. After a good night's sleep, it was time on Saturday to play the Michigan Mountain Cats. This team is from the Great Lakes Hockey League and was the League Champion. A much older team, the Mountain Cats took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a PP goal. Even though the team was sluggish, there were plenty of scoring opportunities, but the M/Cat goalie stopped all the shots in the first period. The M/Cats took a 2-0 lead, also on the PP. The 'Core needed to get back into the game. Rob Dorgan supplied the boost needed as he scored the 'Core's first goal on an assist from Mike Davie. Rich Prunesti tied the score at 2-2 in the second period on assists by Nick Cipriano and Mike Brennan. The 3rd period was all 'Core as they dominated the play. Ron Kokas scored the game-winner at the 4:46 mark and the team played great team DF shutting down the M/Cats to secure a 3-2 win and a 2-0 record in the prelims. Jim Georgas played well in net for the 'Core who out-shot the Cats 45-28 in the game. Game 3 was against the LI Royals who the 'Core defeated 5-1 earlier in the season. This game was for the division and for bragging rights on LI. Both teams were 2-0 going into the game and the winner would advance while the loser would go home. The game was highly anticipated by both teams. Many of the players know each other, played with each other in the past and players were on opposite teams last season. In the first period, Ron Kokas opened the scoring on the PP at the 5:13 mark on assists from Frank Musick and Alex Caruso. Three minutes later the same combo scored again on the PP to give the 'Core a 2-0 lead after 1 period. Alex Caruso opened the 2nd period with a nice goal --knocking a puck out of the air and into the net for a 3-0 'Core lead. Musick assisted on the goal. With the score 3-1, 'Core, John Defeo knocked in a Mike Mascaro shot to give the 'Core a 4-1 lead after 2 periods. The Royals opened the third period with a quick goal to make the score 4-2. The Royals put on a lot of pressure in the third, but couldn't crack Jeff Molner who made some nice saves. Defeo scored into the empty net to make the final 5-2 'Core. The 'Core went 2-6 on the PP, but the key to the game was the Royals going 0-9. "The penalty killing was great" stated Assistant Coach Larry Nastasi. The 5-2 win catapulted the 'Core into the semis on Monday against the Jr. Bruins. Monday's semi-final vs. the Junior Bruins was a re-match of the Sept. game which the 'Core won 5-2. The Bruins had scored (22) goals in the (3) game prelims. The 'Core knew they would have to contain the high flying offense led by Frank Vatrano. The first period went the 'Core's way as they slowed the game down and although the score was 0-0, the Bruins only had 6 shots on net for the period. "Our forechecking was almost perfect" stated Coach Lazar. "Our plan was to keep the Bruins from flying through the neutral zone, as they are a "score on the rush team"" added Lazar. The 'Core opened the scoring in the second period on the PP as Rich Prunesti scored on a Kyle Zelanka assist. The Bruins tied the score at 1-1 at the 16:13 mark, but Mike Cambria answered back on the PP a minute later on an Alex Caruso assist. The 'Core played a perfect third period except for a brief flurry by the Bruins on a PP where sniper Frank Vatrano somehow missed (3) great chances to score. "Those are goals he usually puts in 9 of 10 times" stated Bruins Coach Chris Masters. After that PP, the 'Core allowed only 2 shots in the last 4 minutes of the game. With :29 left in the 2-1 game, Alex Caruso shot for the open net, it deflected and started to roll down the ice. The puck hit something, changed direction and rolled into the exact middle of the empty net to secure a 3-1 win. "The puck had eyes" stated AC President Bob Santini. The 3-1 win sent the 'Core onto the Finals vs. the undefeated Atlanta Knights. Jeff Molner stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced in the win. "This was the best all-around game we played all year" stated Special Assistant Sean Edwards.
The team went out to celebrate with a team dinner at the Olive Garden which included all the parents and friends who came to the tournament. All had a great time. The games in the tournament were on Fast Hockey which did a great job broadcasting all the games. With an 8:30 PM curfew, the 'Core players were totally serious and Captain Ron Kokas did a Mark Messier imitation of team leadership all weekend. "You cannot win a Championship without Maturity, and Ron supplied the leadership in this area" stated Coach Lazar. "I didn't have to say much before the games and Ron kept the team focused all weekend" added Lazar. "Apple Core has had some great Captains over the years such as Ryan Vesce, Vin Hellemeyer, and Kevin Schaeffer just to name a few and now Captain Ron Kokas is added to those legendary names of the past. The Championship game was against the undefeated Atlanta Knights of the MET. Although the Knights were a much older and bigger team, the 'Core felt they could be beaten. Atlanta had swept through most of the season and playoffs and easily got to the Final game themselves. "Atlanta is a methodical team" stated Larry Nastasi. "They play tough hockey, but classy hockey" added Nastasi. The game started good for the 'Core and they took a 1-0 lead on the PP on a John Defeo one-timer. Craig Halpin assisted on the play. The score at the end of (1) was 1-0. Atlanta had 7 shots on net in the first. The second period was a different story. The Knights scored (3) goals to take a 3-1 lead after two periods. The Knights took advantage of their opportunities and showed why they were undefeated all year. Between the 2nd and third period the team challenged each other to perform in the third period. The coaches said that Champions overcome adversity and find a way to win. It looked bleak. The Knights were killing the clock and the 'Core had trouble putting two passes together. All of a sudden, Ron Kokas took a long shot that went wide and came out the other side of the net. Mike Cambria one-timed a shot over the Knight's goalie to cut the lead to 3-2 and give the team life. With 1:42 left in regulation, Oleksii Malichnko wristed a perfect LOW shot into the Knight's net to tie the game at 3-3. The team was pumped during the break to OT. Could this be a story book ending?
With :28 seconds gone in OT, Mike Cambria scored the goal of his life a rare National Championship OT winner, to give Apple Core their 2nd Jr 'B' National title. They last won in 1996 with Rob Scuderi leading the way. When the goal was scored, on assists from Ron Kokas and Alex Caruso, the place went wild. Players were jumping all over the place, climbing the glass and creating general mayhem. 'I still can't believe it" stated Coach Lazar. "These kids showed heart all year and especially today" added Nastasi. "It looked like we were dead in the water and all of a sudden --boom, boom, tie game and then the quick OT goal...WOW.....The team received their medals, trophies, and 100's of pics were taken. What an ending to a great weekend. The team finished the Nationals 5-0. Co-MVP's Mike Cambria and Jeff Molner played great all weekend. What a season!!!!!
APPLE SAUCE..... Mike Cambria Sr. took home the huge Silver Cup trophy which will be displayed in our lobby for the next year......Pat Condon supported the team all weekend.....Lisa Davie handled all the restaurant planning and souvenir sorting. Seeing her in action, I can't understand how Matt handles all that.....Rich Prunesti Sr. did his skip and jump after the game.....Mike Smith made his father sleep on the floor mattress, while he slept in the big comfortable bed......The team will be fitted for rings.....Team party at the Davie house on Thursday......Tryouts should be interesting for the EJ team with many candidates......