Garden City Wings Ice Hockey Club
This month the Garden City Wings Varsity ice hockey team began their 33rd season in the Nassau High
School Hockey League. The 2005-06 team features a much younger team than last year's playoff finalist
squad with two-thirds of the team consisting of freshmen and sophomores.
Given the team's inexperience, there will be a lot of pressure on the trio of goaltenders led by senior Jeff Greco. Greco returns for his third varsity season after compiling an 8-5-0 record last season, with a 2.72 GAA. Sophomore David Logan appeared in six games last year, compiling a 2-0-1 record and a 2.88 GAA. Sophomore Daniel Hickcox steps in for his brother who graduated last year, continuing the goaltending tradition of his family.
The team has a shortage of defensemen with only sophomores Tom Rossidis and David Brown returning. Rossidis is a strong skater, and reliable defenseman who moves the puck well. Rossidis will be asked to contribute offensively in addition to his defensive responsibilities. The coaching staff will be looking for David Brown to continue the strong showing he displayed during the second half of last season. A strong positional player, David will be matched up against the opposing team's best forwards. First year player sophomore Anthony Bitetto has a strong shot and is a hard hitter who enjoys the physical part of the game. Both Bitetto and Rossidis are capable of rushing the puck and both will see time on the power play unit.
Much of the offensive firepower from last year's squad returns this season. Seniors Ryan Norell and Brian Kiernan return for their sixth season with the Wings organization. Over the past five seasons they have combined for 216 goals and 155 assists. Kiernan led the team last year with 29 goals (29-14-43), while Norell led the team with 17 assists (22-17-39). Senior Max Auricchio is back for his fifth season with the Wings. Auricchio has a strong wrist shot and all the tools needed to have a breakout year. Sophomore Aaron Kim is back after scoring seven goals (third best on the team) last season as a freshman. Aaron possesses a great shot and can skate with anyone in the league. The team will need these four players to also contribute time on defense to compensate for the shortage of defensemen.
Senior Kyle Seiferth is back for his fourth season with the organization and is expected to be a force in front of the opposing net. Senior Kevin Betts will be joining the team for his third year after the completion of the football season. Playing the wing last season, Betts was sixth in team scoring (5-6-11) last season. Sophomore Nick Greco was fifth among the forwards in plus/minus rating last season and proved that he can handle working the corners. Sophomore wingers Matt Gaudiosi and Michael Lanciotti return for their second season on the varsity and will be expected to contribute at both ends of the rink. Freshmen Tom Greco and Eric Diller join varsity this season after combining for 32 goals (32-13-45) for the middle school team last season. Sophomore John Mendicino is also a new addition this year after scoring 14 goals last season in the JV division.
On opening night, the Wings fell to a very tough Levittown High School team 2-1. After a scoreless first period, defenseman Brian Kiernan scored an unassisted goal early in the second period to give the Wings a brief lead. Midway through the period, the Wings gave up two goals in a twenty-second span. Despite putting a lot of pressure on Levittown in the third period, the Wings could not get the puck by the their goalie for the tying goal. Goaltender Jeff Greco had 30 saves for the Wings in a game that featured two of the better goalies in the league.
The Wings took the ice against St. Mary's High School on Thursday, November 17th. After outplaying St. Mary's for much of the first period, the Wings gave up a late goal with twelve seconds remaining. During the first period, the team successfully killed off a five on three disadvantage. Great work by the penalty killers Norell, Kiernan, Rossidis, Bitetto, and Brown.
The better part of the play in the second period belonged to St. Mary's. By mid-period, the Wings were trailing by a score of 3-0. The Wings inexperience was showing with the team giving up frequent odd man rushes on goaltender Jeff Greco. With forty-one seconds remaining in the period, GC finally got one past the St. Mary's goaltender as Max Auricchio snuck in a low shot just inside the post off an assist from Brian Kiernan. The Wings continued to apply the pressure in the St. Mary's end in the final seconds of the period. Following an initial shot from the point by Tom Rossidis and a rebound attempt by Brian Kiernan, Anthony Bitetto scored in a wild scramble in front of the St. Mary's net as the buzzer sounded to end the period.
For most of the third period, despite numerous good scoring chances including hitting two goal posts and two cross bars, the Wings could not get the tying goal. With 94 seconds remaining, John Mendicino batted a mid-air rebound into the St. Mary's net for the tying goal. Tom Greco assisted on the goal. Following a timeout, the Wings took possession of the ensuing faceoff and worked the puck into the offensive zone. Just seventeen seconds after the tying goal, Ryan Norell scored the game winner assisted by Tom Rossidis and Max Auricchio. During the last 77 seconds of the game, the Wings were able to keep St. Mary's trapped in their own end. Outstanding forechecking by Ryan Norell and Max Auricchio who alternated keeping the puck in the corner against three and sometimes four St. Mary's players.
It was a well-earned victory for goalie Jeff Greco who finished the evening with 32 saves. A review of the opponents shot chart after the game showed that too many of those shots came from the slot area. Defensive zone work will need to improve if the Wings are to have any kind of success this season.
The Wings next game is Sunday, November 27th at 6:00pm at the Iceworks rink in Syosset. Please visit www.gcwings.org for additional information on the Wings.