BURLINGTON, VT -- The Vermont Lumberjacks are staying put.
New owner Maurice Rosales is keeping the Eastern Hockey League team in Burlington after buying it in April from former owner Stephen Lary.
Rosales is a longtime Vermont resident. He lives in Jericho, about a half-hour drive from Burlington.
Professionally, he's been senior director in charge of engineering and service delivery for the Vermont-based Vertek Corporation telecommunications business since 1998, but his hockey resume is full.
He's been managing director of USA Hockey's New England District since 2015, he was president of the Vermont State Amateur Hockey Association from 2013-2015, and he's been on the executive board of Glades Youth Hockey since 2010.
"This isn't my first rodeo, when it comes to hockey," Rosales said, with a laugh when asked about his decision to buy the Lumberjacks.
Rosales played a big role in bringing junior hockey back to Vermont after the Green Mountain Glades left following the 2011-12 season.
He helped convince Lary to relocate the Washington Jr. Nationals to Burlington after Lary decided to leave the D.C. area.
"We were looking for a junior hockey team that wanted to relocate and come to Vermont," Rosales said.
The Lumberjacks were born in the 2014-15 season and have increased their victory total in the EHL each year, from 16 to 17 to 22 to 24.
In the same franchise’s four previous seasons as the Jr. Nationals in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League and EHL, the Nationals won a total of 21 games and lost 146 during that stretch.
The Lumberjacks finished 24-24-2 this past season, in second place in the New England Division, and earned the No. 5 seed in the EHL playoffs.
Despite the team's recent success, word got out last fall that Lary was looking to sell the Lumberjacks. Rosales knew about Lary's decision.
"Stephen and I had a good relationship and rapport. He was looking for someone local to buy the team, and I said I'd help him find someone," Rosales said.
Buying the team was in the back of his mind, Rosales said, until January, when he made the decision to look into what it would mean for him.
"It was my wife who actually convinced me to look into it," he said. "She knew I was interested in buying the team and she said I should at least do some research into it."
Had he not purchased the team, Rosales said, there was a very good chance the Lumberjacks would have been sold to someone who would have taken the team out of state.
Rosales thinks Vermont is a great spot for junior hockey.
"Guys love to play junior hockey in Vermont and on the East Coast because the area is loaded with colleges," he said.
As for the Lumberjacks, they play in the city-owned Leddy Arena in Burlington, where there is no admission to their home games. The team is very involved in the community and Rosales wants to ramp up that effort, especially with youth hockey programs.
Jim Mosso, who is headed into his fourth season on the Lumberjacks coaching staff and his first full season as head coach of the team after taking over for Doc DelCastillo midway through last season, thinks highly of the team's new owner.
"Mr. Rosales is very respected in the community and he's a hockey guy," Mosso said. "I'm certain our presence in the community will grow with him as the team owner."
Rosales' son David Rosales has been a Lumberjack since Day 1, playing on the EHL team the last two seasons.
David doesn't think his life on or off the ice will change now that his father is the Lumberjacks owner.
"Coach Mosso is still in charge of the team," David said.
Like his father, David is happy the Lumberjacks are staying in Vermont.
"When I was a kid, I would watch the Glades play and say, 'I want to play for them someday,'" he said. "I want kids to say the same thing about the Lumberjacks."
Leaving the Lumberjacks has crossed his mind from time to time, David admitted, but he feels he's done the right thing sticking around.
"Junior players often think the grass is greener somewhere else, but that's not always the case," he said.
When things didn't go well for him early in his Lumberjacks career, David said, he decided he needed to look inward to get himself back on track.
"Going somewhere else wouldn't have made my issues go away," he said. "I had to fix them myself."
David has won the prestigious Lumberjacks Award the last two seasons, both years it has been presented.
Decided by a vote of teammates, the award goes to a player "who personifies the Lumberjacks' culture, who best represents what we're all about," Mosso said.
"The winner gives back to the community and has what we're looking for in the way of character, especially off the ice."
David also was named one of three EHL Student-Athletes of the Year for the 2017-2018 season. This was the first season the award was given out by the league.
The other award winners were Connor Kucharski from the New Hampshire Avalanche and Alex Friend from the Total Athletics Seahawks.
"Each player turned heads on and off the ice, exemplifying the idea of being a student-athlete. Whether it was community service hours, or additional time spent studying, each individual set himself apart from the rest," according to a story on the EHL website, www.easternhockeyleague.org.
Mark Kumpel, the EHL's director of hockey operations, said the three honorees "all have bright futures ahead of them because they are dedicated to all aspects of their life other than hockey."
David said his education never stops.
"I love learning," he said.
He's been accepted into New York University, which has a club hockey team, but is keeping his options open to play for an NCAA Division 3 program.
Mosso calls David and his father "quality guys" and says the entire family is genuine.
In addition to the EHL team, the Lumberjacks also have an EHL Premier Division team and short-season Midget team. Mosso coached the Premier team and David Rosales played for the team before they moved up to the EHL squad.
The Premier team went 36-4 in the 2016-2017 season and 33-9 last season.
"I anticipate that group of kids from the Premier team will have continued success at the EHL level," Mosso said.
Jim Mosso is set to begin his first full season as the Head Coach of the Lumberjacks' EHL Team. Courtesy Dan Hickling / Hickling Images / Vermont Lumberjacks
David Rosales was named one of the EHL Student-Athletes of the Year, and he is also a key piece returning to the Lumberjacks lineup this season. Courtesy Edward Jacobs / Team Shred Photography
Kyle McDonald tallied over 100 points during his junior career with the Lumberjacks, as he sets off for college. The talented scorer will join the defending CCC champions at Nichols College. Courtesy Edward Jacobs / Team Shred Photography