Giving Thanks, 2020-Style
As lousy as 2020 has been for most people around the world, there are still things to be thankful for. Our list includes...
-- The Players. Well, of course. They -- and only they -- can truly understand what it's like to play hockey in the middle of a pandemic, to say nothing of going to school, trying to have a social life, helping teammates and classmates... it's a hell of a lot. Thank you, guys. Stay safe, and we hope -- fingers crossed -- to see you in action after this long Thanksgiving/Christmas break.
-- The Coaches. What can we say? Take what they do in a normal year and multiply it exponentially. That's what coaches are up against this year as they balance keeping you as safe as possible while also working to make sure your development as a player continues. And a shout-out also goes to the athletic directors, who have the brain-melting job of constantly monitoring Covid-19 outbreaks, following local guidelines, and shaping schedules for dozens of sports.
-- The Front-Line Workers. The doctors, EMTs, nurses, health aides, food bank volunteers, and so many others who have put themselves in harm's way to save lives. With this current surge, many are being pushed to the breaking point. They are hurting. Many have gotten sick and died, often because they lacked the PPE and other equipment needed to stay safe. We don't know how they can be thanked enough.
-- The Scientists and Researchers. We now have at least two vaccines out there offering a potential path out this mess. We just have to keep our eyes on the prize. That means hanging on a bit longer.
-- You. Thank you for keeping your subscription to USHR. We're a small business, and really appreciate the support. You've enabled us to reach this, our 25th year of existence. Thank you. Beyond that, we are thankful for each and every one of you, both in and outside of the game, for graces that may seem small, but add up to something great. With you, we can get life -- and hockey -- back to some semblance of what it was like in the 'before times.' Stay positive. We have no other choice.
Thanksgiving Day, 2020
Plenty of Question Marks
We're ready to get going on the 2020-21 season, even if, like everyone living through this global pandemic, we're not sure how we're going to pull it all off. We'll be gathering the news as usual, but will likely face restrictions, self-imposed or not, when it comes to doing it face-to-face. As such, we'll be relying more than ever on coaches and others in the hockey community to help us get solid information.
Speaking of coaches, we're heartened by how much work they've done to make this as good an experience as possible for the kids. Having on-campus ice in the fall was huge. We've always felt that being on-ice as a team for daily practices, with weekend scrimmages, is a terrific model for player development in autumn.
Special credit goes to the players. It's difficult for them to avoid thinking about what they are missing. It's human nature. Dealing with uncertainty is hard. They want to compete. But difficult times offer their own rewards, such as the opportunity for every single player to become a leader, to be responsible for the safety of his teammates, and to develop the mental toughness and humility for what lays ahead, in both sports and life. In that reespect, it could be a great season.
Championship SundaySunday, March 8th Finals
Salisbury, Loomis, Gunnery 2020 Champs
All games at Trinity College; Hartford, Conn. (Limited Parking!)
Elite 8: #3 Salisbury 4, #4 Dexter 0 (FINAL) -- Behind a shutout from Nick Haas, goals by Massimo Lombardi, Dean Bauchiero, Lucas Mercuri, and Matt DeBoer (empty-net), and smart, disciplined hockey from start to finish, Salisbury won the 2020 Elite 8 Championship with a 4-0 win over Dexter.
In the first period, Salisbury's Lombardi, off a faceoff to the left of Dexter freshman G Dylan Silverstein, scored the game's first goal -- and the only goal of the period, one best described as a 'feeling out' period.
The pace picked up significantly in the second period. Dexter had the edge in play, but not on the scoreboard as Salisbury capitalized on a couple of Dexter defensive lapses to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the third period. Salisbury's first goal of the period developed off a 3x2 and led to the Bauchiero-Mercuri-DeBoer line bunched in front of Silverstein. The puck deflected off Bauchiero's skate at the 7:57 mark. 2-0, Salisbury. With a couple of minutes left in the period, a Dexter defenseman pinched, was stripped of the puck, and the Lucas Mercuri line was off to the races, Mercurio finishing to make it 3-0 Salisbury.
In the third, Salisbury stuck to its plan, playing sound positional hockey in all three zones. Dexter failed to get into their game due to uncharacteristic mistakes at critical moments, such as taking two penalties during a 5-minute powerplay just over halfway through the period. Haas's work in net didn't give Dexter much of a chance to get into the game, either. He didn't have to make exceptional saves, but he stayed square to the puck and challenged shooters when needed.
Large School: #3 Loomis 2, #1 Cushing 0 (FINAL) -- Loomis junior G Kyle Chauvette blanked Cushing, 2-0, and got the only goal he needed from senior Cody Hoban with 48 seconds left in the first period. Hoban, who suffered a bad knee injury in Loomis's 7-0 loss to Avon on Jan. 29th, and was expected to be out for the season, came back for the three playoff games and today came through with a big goal when his team needed it. The other hero for Loomis was Chauvette, who was excellent, and just got better as the game went along. The third period was his best, as Cushing peppered him and increased the pressure as the period went along. In the last few minutes, he made several 10-bell saves. The New Hampshire native was the difference in this game. In the final minute, Adam Martin notched an empty-netter. Cushing played a sound game, with very good team defense. Freshman G Jackson Irving was also very good, but wasn't tested to the degree Chauvette was. In the main, this was a well-played game by both teams. Could have gone either way, but Chauvette wouldn't allow it.
Small School: #6 Gunnery 5, #8 Pomfret 3 (FINAL) 12:30 pm -- In an exciting, chippy, end-to-end game with a ton of wild goal-mouth scrums, Pomfret scored 3 first period goals to take a 3-1 lead into the second period. Alas, they would score no more, as Gunnery, powered by a hat trick from senior Zander Lizotte, scored the next four goals. Gunnery goals by Alex Jefferies (2) and Lizotte (3). Pomfret goals from sophomore Carter Rugg, and seniors Tyler Bourque, and Ryan Kosinski. Pomfret played gritty and hard and deserved to be here. A #8 seed, they beat St. Mark's and Groton in the quarters and semis, respectively. After a rough first period, Gunnery senior G Carmine Andranovich settled down and was excellent from there out.