Atlantic Junior Hockey League

New Jersey Junior Titans: Bregenzer, Neal, Stempin move on to college hockey

New Jersey Junior Titans: Bregenzer, Neal, Stempin move on to college hockey

Three more New Jersey Junior Titans players, including the captain of last year’s Atlantic Junior Hockey League team, are off to play college hockey.

Defenseman Cameron Bregenzer has played in the Junior Titans organization since he was a youngster and was captain of his last three teams. He is headed to Johnson and Wales University, a NCAA Division 3 program based in Providence, R.I.

Goalie Caleb Neal is going to the University of Rhode Island, which plays in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association, a Division 1 conference of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

Forward Anthony Stempin will play for Northland College, a NCAA Division 3 program in Ashland, Wis. Stempin was the Junior Titans’ second-leading scorer last season with 15 goals and 21 assists, good for 36 points, in 38 games.

Junior Titans assistant coach Randy Walker said Bregenzer was “all you want in a captain.”

“He’s undersized (5-feet-11-inches, 175 pounds), but tough as nails,” Walker said. “He’s a two-way player who can move the puck and will sacrifice his body to block shots.”

As for Bregenzer’s captain’s duties, “Cameron had control of the locker room and he was a positive, vocal guy,” Walker said. “He also led by example. He was the first guy on the ice and the last one off the ice at practice.”

Bregenzer had two goals and six assists in 43 games last season. His 61 penalty minutes was second on the team behind defenseman Chris Pantaleo, who had 62.

Walker said Bregenzer, from Hopewell, N.J., is the first ex-Junior Titan to play for Johnson and Wales.

Ben Hammock, who coaches the Junior Titans’ team in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League team, was a captain at Rhode Island when he played there. He helped Neal, from Columbia, Mo., land a spot with the Rams.

“Caleb was a model billet player for us,” Walker said. “He provided a good veterans’ presence and took rookies under his wing. He’ll do well at Rhode Island.”

Neal was 4-9-1 in 19 games last season with a 3.34 goals-against average, .906 save percentage, and the team’s lone shutout.

The 6-feet, 180-pounder played in the Junior Titans organization for two years after coming from the Springfield Jr. Blues of the North American Hockey League.

Stempin was with the Junior Titans for one season. The Livonia, Mich., native’s previous stop was in Alaska with Kenai River of the NAHL.

“Anthony makes his living in front of the net. He scores a lot of goals in that tough area,” Walker said.

- by Steve Stein

 

Read past Titans stories in our archives:

Pantaleo, Fitch move on to college hockey

‘Pink-Out’ game Sunday to raise funds, awareness of breast cancer

Atlantic Junior League return set for Sept. 15

Connecticut Jr. Wolfpack: Several players to return from 2012-13 team

Connecticut Jr. Wolfpack: Several players to return from 2012-13 team

Things are shaping up quickly for the Connecticut Jr. Wolfpack as they pull their team together for the 2013-14 season.

“We’re excited, with a great group of young incoming players and a gritty group of returning players who are bred to competed and win,” said general manager/head coach Chris Cerrella.

Last year, the Wolfpack finished third in the Atlantic Junior League at 28-13-2-1 and then reached the AJHL semifinals. They are certainly hoping to go even deeper in 2013-14.

The veteran leadership starts in the back, where Spencer Landry went 13-15 and finished with a .933 save percentage (second in the league) and a 2.22 goals-against average (fourth in the league)

Ori Benyamini was tied for second on the team in scoring with 40 points last year, so he’ll be one of the offensive go-to players for this year’s team as well.

“Rookie forwards Jack Murphy and Todd Schauss made a name for themselves as two of the hardest-working forwards in the AJHL last season and Dylan Vander Esch, Dave Horan, Ben Mariano look to add to their solid rookie seasons, offensively,” said Cerrella.

Mariano scored 20 points, second among ’94-born players on the team behind only Sacred Heart University-bound Nick Belger. Schauss and Vander Esch scored 18 and 15 points, respectively, at ‘94’s. Murphy (21 points) and Horan (13) are ‘93’s.

Forwards Mike Cimba and Ryan Kangas were impressive last year, and Cerrella can’t wait to get the back into game jerseys again to see what they can do this time around.

“[Cimba] will be looked upon to be solid on both sides of the puck this season, and we’re expecting big things from Kangas as well,” added Cerrella.

Zach Stein and Chase Nichols headline the defensive corps as returning players.

Stein, a ’93, was a strong stay-at-home defenseman that was named to the AJHL All-Star game last year.

Stein will be the captain of the 2013-14 Wolfpack, Cerrella said.

As for the ’94 Nichols, “[he is a] smooth-skating defenseman who will be expected to be a power play presence in his second season.”

“Overall, there are two things to measure a team’s success – team chemistry and college placement,” said Cerrella. “The Wolfpack staff believes we have the core to provide the chemistry and the talent from to bottom to again top the league with college placements.”

 

Read past Wolfpack stories from our archives:

Running with top ‘Pack in league

Team getting excited about ‘Pack of newcomers

Walpole Express: Atlantic Junior League team welcomes former Central Penn Panthers quartet

Walpole Express: Atlantic Junior League team welcomes former Central Penn Panthers quartet

The Walpole Express share the Iorio Arena with the Pre-Draft Showcase each May.

So, right from their “front step,” they can see hundreds of top junior prospects as well as their own players who are warming up over the off-season.

The Express are excited about bringing in four former Central Penn Panthers players from that perennial Metropolitan Junior League contender.

Jake Leamer and Logan Hockley both played on the defense for the Express Black team (0-2-1) at the Pre-Draft Showcase. Hockey scored one of the only two goals for the Red team.

Leamer is a ’94 who had nine points in 40 Met League games for the Panthers, while Hockley is a ’95 who picked up seven points in 36 league games.

Up front, the team welcomes one of the 2012-13 Panthers’ top offensive performers, ’94 Rudy Carson. He scored 44 points in 29 Met League games.

Additionally, ’94 forward Andrew Amick scored 22 points in 40 games.

“We’re excited about these guys,” said first-year Express Atlantic League head coach Jonathan Lounsbury. “They have an unbelievable organization down in Central Penn. Their guys can step in and make an easy transition for us, so it was a no-brainer for us to take some of their players.”

The Express also had a Black team and a Cranston Reds team at the Pre-Draft.

“I thought we played really well, all three teams, though one [the Reds, 1-1-1] fared better than the others,” said Lounsbury. The Red team finished 1-2-0. “You get to see how guys play at this next level. The teams we were playing were loaded with Division 1 guys. Our guys stepped up their play, it was good to see.”

The Reds, owned by Rob Barletta’s RB Hockey as are the Express, gave some younger players the chance to play for Dave Capuano.

“The Reds played great competition and really gave us a chance to look at players against some stacked teams,” Lounsbury said.

Next up, RB Hockey will place teams at the Chowder Cup between July 25 and 28 at the same rinks as the Pre-Draft.

“That will be a mandatory tournament for our Express players. It’ll be an opportunity to build some cohesiveness with each other,” said Lounsbury.

By that time, he believes that the players from Walpole trying out for United States League teams will know where they’re going to end up for the 2013-14 season.

“We hope we get them back, but we also hope they can make the jump to that level,” Lounsbury added.

 

Read past Express stories from our archives:

Commesso commits to Assumption College

Experienced leaders power Atlantic Junior League team to second

Atlantic Junior League team knows title defense will be tough

Philadelphia Little Flyers: Coach takes the good from tough season

Philadelphia Little Flyers: Coach takes the good from tough season

The Philadelphia Little Flyers are gunning to get back to the Atlantic Junior League playoffs in 2013-14 after a season out in 2012-13.

The Little Flyers finished with an 11-23-6-4 record to finish ninth and one spot out of a playoff spot. Head coach Steve Washkalavitch can pinpoint the areas where the Little Flyers struggled the most and can correct. He can also pinpoint the areas where they had advantages over other teams that they can build on for next season.

“Missing the playoffs was a disappointment, but our guys battled all year and competed week in and week out,” said Washkalavitch. “We had a good group of guys earn college commitments and a handful of others who earned looks from USHL franchises.”

Their AJHL opponents were unwise to take a penalty against the Little Flyers, because the Philadelphia squad would make them pay on a regular basis.

“We were solid on the power play,” said Washkalavitch, whose team led the league in power play goals (43) and was second to the Northern Cyclones in power play percentage (19.55 percent).

“We worked hard on our special teams as we had talented role players that fit our special teams systems and helped drive the offense,” he added. “We also had a couple high flying, offensive defenseman in Gabe Chuckran and Donald Rudd.”

The Little Flyers are certainly rebuilding in net for next year. Consistency was an issue throughout the season. Just as they finished ninth in the league standings, they also had the ninth highest goals against with 155.

“We struggled in net. Although we had talented netminders, they struggled with consistency,” said Washkalavitch. “Having three goalies didn’t help much either as it gave me one too many options in net. This year, we are focused on bringing in two solid goalies and letting them compete for the spot each week.”

It may have been worse if not for defensemen Chuckran (a First Team All-League defenseman), Rudd, Kyle Motell and Garrett Gallagher.

“Kyle and Garrett were rookie defensemen last year who saw a bunch of minutes. We expect them to step up in a big way [in 2013-14],” said Washkalavitch. “Rudd and Chuckran were among the top three leading scorers amongst defensemen in the league and both have bright futures. They both have tremendous options next year but figure on having them in Orange and Black this season.”

Offensively, the Little Flyers finished ninth as well, with 127 goals. They did finish ahead of their cross-town rivals, the playoff qualifier Philadelphia Junior Flyers.

Leading forwards Trevor Gooch and Sam Manzi joined Chuckran and Rudd at the league all-star game, scoring 49 and 41 points, respectively.

Gooch, a second-year player as a ’94 from Mantua, N.J., “stepped up in a big way.”

“We are expecting Gooch to be drafted by a United States Hockey League team in the upcoming draft [May 6-7], but as he knows, that is a tough league to crack.

“We are working with him to achieve his goal of playing in the USHL, but we have not counted out the option of having him back,” added Washkalavitch.

The young Harmar Rappaport, of Wyndmoor, Pa., impressed as a ’96-born forward.

“We expect he will have a good year up front,” Washkalavitch said. “I also look forward to seeing our young prospects coming up from our midget program, notably Austin Bandora, a hard-working relentless forward who I expect to have a great season.”

The Little Flyers certainly have some good cornerstones to build upon, and in the meantime, they are bidding farewell to some good talent.

Manzi, for instance, committed early decision to Williams College. Mike Marchionda left early to attend Franklin Pierce University and he will play there next fall as a transfer, while Brian Oseija has recently committed to Becker College.

“Numerous other players are finalizing their commitments and those will be announced in the near future,” said Washkalavitch.

The Little Flyers were set to play the New England Pro-Am Pre-Draft Showcase (May 2-5) and will later this summer play in the Chowder Cup (July 25-28), both in Massachusetts.

In between those, they will hold their Invitational Tryout Camp July 8-12. Players will soon be able to go online to www.littleflyers.org to apply for admission to the camp.

New York Bobcats: Atlantic Junior League team names Kerr new head coach

New York Bobcats: Atlantic Junior League team names Kerr new head coach

The New York Bobcats are bringing in a virtual walking encyclopedia of the hockey world.

Kevin Kerr played at the youth and Canadian major junior levels and in several different pro leagues before his coaching career began.

As for coaching, he’s been all over the U.S. junior hockey map – from the Eastern Junior League to the Empire Junior League to now the Atlantic Junior League. He’s excited to be the new head coach of the Bobcats’ Atlantic Junior League team, a position to which he was named in late March.

“I think the Bobcats have a long tradition of being a great program in the AJHL, and I’m hoping to continue that tradition and make sure to have a winning team, but moreso, to send players to the college and United States Hockey League levels,” said Kerr.

As a player, Kerr set the minor pro goal-scoring record with 677 goals in six leagues.

After coaching in Canadian junior and minor pro leagues, Kerr joined the Atlanta Jr. Knights and led the former Southeast Junior League team to a runner-up spot in the Junior Nationals.

The next year, the Knights joined the Metropolitan Junior League and won the league title (going 43-1-0-1) and were again National runners-up.

In 2011-12, Kerr coached the Green Mountain Glades in the EJHL until that franchise was sold to the Portland Jr. Pirates organization. He returned to the Knights this past season. He coached the Knights’ Empire League team, developing the future players for the EJHL South team, a Junior Nationals contender.

Kerr was approached by assistant general manager and assistant coach Craig Doremus about taking the AJHL job and was thrilled about the direction in which the program was heading and wanted to be part of something special.

“They laid out the direction of the organization and I felt compelled to take the opportunity,” said Kerr.

He also saw how much things were changing within the organization, with the involvement at the ownership and management level of twin brothers Chris Ferraro and Peter Ferraro.

The Ferraro twins were longtime minor pro veterans as well, so they and Kerr were coming from a similar background. Kerr plans to use his experiences as a player in these minor leagues to motivate his Bobcats charges.

“It starts out with commitment level,” Kerr said. “You have to be committed to play the game, be committed every day on and off the ice. I just want to bring a good sense of accountability and strive to be the best we can be.”

 

Read past Bobcats stories in our archives

Lynch a big-time stopper in net

Pair of 1995-born players showing great progress

Rassett, Gilhooly among veteran Bobcats leaders