WEST CHESTER, PA -- The Baltimore Ravens suffered through some tough years after the 2012 Super Bowl championship, for instance. After winning a title, sometimes rebuilding can start right away. In junior hockey, as players age out, this can be especially poignant. Jerry Domish and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers know all about it.
“We went 14 kids to school from the championship team last year,” said Domish, whose team beat the neighboring Little Flyers for the 2017 EHL title. “We only had two returning players, so we were starting from scratch. We should have a lot of returners next year, so we’ll have a much better team then.”
The Junior Flyers were 9-18-6, and at 24 points, they were hoping to nab at least the sixth playoff seed in the South Conference.
“Right now, we’re in the last spot. If we continue to improve, who knows what happens once you get there,” said Domish. “We have to shore up what we do in our own end.”
The Junior Flyers are strong up the middle and have solid goaltending, but they have a very young and inexperienced defensive corps.
“Last year, our D corps was the key to our game, it was so solid,” said Domish. “None of our current defensemen had any junior experience.”
Despite a learning D, goalies Dakota Delbridge (’97) and Albin Mulic (’98) both maintain save percentages over .900.
“They have kept us in the games. We’ve lost a lot of one-goal games, six in overtime,” said Domish. “Both possess good rebound control and are good leaders. Our goaltending is every bit as good as a year ago.”
The center ranks are the strongest among the forwards, with returning players Dennis Ruppe and Drew Platt joining Adrian Martinez down the middle.
All three are ’97’s who will be looking for college opportunities after this season.
Ruppe, with 21 points this season, is a fourth-year junior veteran who long since left his 2016-17 points total (six) in the dust.
Platt has done the same. After a five-point season up front last year, he’s at 20 following the first 33 games of this season. Martinez is a Swiss import who has put up 14 points in 30 games for the Junior Flyers.
Gianni Dini, a ’98 with 17 points in 33 games, leads the cast of promising, young forwards.