Success can be achieved many ways. If the “Miracle on Ice” proved anything it’s that a newly formed team with kids from various backgrounds could be successful against a more seasoned team which had been together for years. While having the same the teammates and linemates may be beneficial at the highest levels, playing neighborhood AA hockey on a new team offers many positive attributes. The chance to make new friends and learn from different coaches is not something young players should shy away from.
The Cazenovia Park Chiefs 18U hockey team had success in the 2014-2015 season with a melting pot formula. Coached by young, non-parent, and experienced quintet of coaches, the Caz 18U Chiefs were able to reestablish themselves near the top of the Western New York Amateur Hockey League Tournament Bound 18U division. After taking a hiatus in the prior year, the Caz 18U Chiefs rebuilt under the concept of finding players from various backgrounds who were looking for a fresh start. With only five players moving up from the Caz 16U team, the coaching staff was able to leverage their high school coaching reputation to attract players from Williamsville to Fredonia and everywhere in between. While some parents and players may not like the idea of playing for a new team, the players on the 14-15 Chiefs may argue otherwise. Captain TJ Maloney is one believer. “I loved playing on this team,” Maloney said. “So much fun with so many new friends that I’ll have for life. I’m looking forward to playing for this team next year.” TJ was not alone in his enthusiasm. Jimmy Szefler came to the Cazenovia 18U tryout from another organization and didn’t know what to expect. His apprehension quickly subsided once he became familiar with the coaching staff and his teammates. “I was nervous at first and unsure of what to expect,” Szefler said. “It turned out it was one of the best hockey experiences I’ve ever had.” Caz 18U parents also had many positive things to say about the team. Ken Myers, father of forward Nick Myers, said “The Caz 18u team was tremendous. Besides being competitive in every game, playing on the team was affordable and truly prepared each player for their high school season.”
The coaches played a big part in the Caz 18U success. This young staff of nonparent coaches all under the age of 35 came up with a solid game plan that utilized each player’s skills to their fullest potential. Out of a roster of 20 players 18 played high school hockey: 8 Varsity Federation players and 10 Varsity Club players including two state champions. These are numbers the coaching staff is most proud of. Moving on to the next level is what coaching at the youth level so rewarding.
This upcoming year the Caz 18U team looks to improve on their previous success. With players aging out and moving onto college there are going to be plenty of open spots at all positions come the March 31 and April 1 tryout.
With many happy players and parents, the Caz 18U team is looking to capitalize on its melting pot success. The 18U AA hockey landscape is competitive with every team vying for WNY best players, so players not be apprehensive to tryout for unfamiliar organizations or teams this upcoming season. It could be just the experience both the player and parent needs. Wayne Gretzky said it best when he stated “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”