The Americans team wasn’t the top team in the USPHL 16U Division, holding a record of 4-7-2 as of Dec. 8. However, the team should yield the older Americans teams some strong talent, especially in the crease.
“We’ve seen a significant upgrade in goal, with two very skilled athletes,” said Dave Maksymiu, co-owner and director of player development for the Jr. Amerks’ organization. He is also co-head coach of the USPHL Premier team.
He is speaking specifically of the ’99 duo of Michael Paterson-Jones (.915 save percentage) and Griffin Varricchio (.903 save percentage). The two have split the season almost evenly, with Varricchio playing in 370 minutes and Paterson-Jones playing in 299 minutes.
“We clearly have a team that is still developing, and the reason why we’re competitive is because we’re getting better goaltending [than in past seasons],” said Makysmiu.
The team also returned two of its top four scorers from last year. Sam DiBitetto is back after scoring 37 points in 28 games last year, and is leading the team in scoring again. The ’99 from Hilton, N.Y., had 18 points through 13 games this year.
Jared Smith, a ’99 Rochester native, had 36 points in 24 games last year, and put up 16 points in 12 contests this season.
The Jr. Amerks’ 16U squad also returned its top two defensemen from last year in Jackson Grosshans and Adam Kolcon.
Eamon Bollinger, a newcomer ’99 forward from Ithaca, N.Y., was third in scoring on the team behind DiBitetto and Smith with 10 points in 13 games.
“The majority of that 16U team is brand new to this style of competition. They’re traveling longer for games, so the fact we’re competing as well as we are, we’re way ahead of where we expected to be,” said Maksymiu. “The team has done well enough in the league to show us we can play with anybody on any day. We’re extremely happy with the group right now.”
Of course, much of the credit for the 16U team’s improved play all-around is the work of head coach Jared Blank. Blank, a goaltending coach for the organization as well as a physical therapist, has continued the uphill progression that Maksymiu started last year as head coach of the 16U squad.
“Jared has been a solid veteran coach for us,” Maksymiu added.
Ed. Note: This is an updated version of a story that appeared in the December 2015 print edition of USA Jr. Hockey Magazine
- See more at: http://www.usajuniorhockey.com/2015/12/rochester-jr-americans-goaltending-a-strength-for-16u-americans/?utm_source=hootsuite#sthash.P0Qavwxk.dpuf