Six years, 205 USPHL games. Anthony Bernardo is among this league’s most dedicated players in history, playing multiple seasons at each of the USPHL 16U, 18U and NCDC levels going back to 2015.
For the first time since a 13-game stint with Smithtown-Hauppauge High School in 2016-17, Bernardo will be pulling on a non-P.A.L. jersey when he joins the SUNY-Cortland Red Dragons - alongside longtime multi-level Isles teammate Dom Settimo.
“I started talking to the coaching staff at Cortland in early December. Knowing the conference Cortland is in, and the facilities Cortland provides for their athletes is really special,” said Bernardo, born in 2000. “Cortland’s coaching staff really enjoyed how I’m a complete 200-foot player. They are really impressed with my playmaking abilities and second effort. I expect to be an immediate impactful incoming freshman.”
With his aspirations of becoming a teacher - either History or English - he was naturally drawn to Cortland, which enrolls more students in its Education major than any other department.
“Cortland has been known to turn out many educators in New York. As I pursue a career in education, I plan to be one of them. Knowing Cortland has state of the art facilities, such as the rink and the student center, I’m sure I will enjoy my four years,” Bernardo added.
Bernardo was a key part of the NCDC Jr. Islanders’ improvement the last two years under Head Coach Mike Marcou, the 2019-20 Co-Coach Of The Year. Both of the last two seasons, the Jr. Islanders have finished in the top four overall, after not finishing higher than ninth in either of the first two NCDC seasons. The positive vibe around Marcou and the team helped increase the chemistry for the group.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys my last two years of juniors,” said Bernardo, who totaled 39 points in 88 regular season games. He was a shining light for the team in this year’s playoffs, posting five points in the Jr. Islanders’ four games. They swept the first-year Philadelphia Hockey Club, but were in turn swept by the Dineen Cup runner-up Rockets Hockey Club.
Additionally, he led P.A.L. with 54 hits on the season, so he immediately brings physicality to the Red Dragons. He plays a clean physical game, however, registering just 20 penalty minutes in 41 regular season games this past season.
He cut his teeth with this mix of offense and physicality for six years with P.A.L., which included two years in each of the USPHL 16U and 18U Divisions with coaches Aleksey Nikiforov and Bob Thornton.
“Playing U16 and U18 for the Jr. Islanders was a tremendous help for the junior and college level,” said Bernardo. “Aleksey Nikiforov and Bob Thornton were a huge help for my development over the years.”
NCAA hockey is of course next up for Bernardo, and even with all this hockey behind him, he knows he still has a ways to go before he can be the impactful freshman he expects himself to be.
“I’ll be training all summer long, working specifically on my strength and speed for the next level,” he added.
The USPHL congratulates Anthony Bernardo, his family, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and SUNY-Cortland for his commitment.