Local Flyers Youth hockey team wins state championship

Team won three out of four district games

Special to The Sun
The 14U Bantam B team won the championship earlier this month after an undefeated season.

The South Jersey Flyers Youth 14U Bantam B travel hockey team was named a state champion earlier this month and played in the district championships during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

The team consists of members from across South Jersey region: Two are from Haddonfield and others from Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Atlantic City and Pennsylvania. From the borough, Haddonfield Memorial High School freshman Preston Sullivan also played on the hockey team, helping it to an undefeated season of 21 wins, 0 losses and one tie.

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During its state championship game, the team faced off against the Old Bridge Jr. Knights in Morristown and won 7-2.

“The game was pretty close throughout the first and second period, but we completely pulled away from them in the third period,” recalled Haddonfield eighth grader Daniel Riso. “We just outskated them and we kept shooting the puck and it kept going in.”

Riso has been playing hockey for seven years. His league team made it to state championships in the past two seasons, but this year marked its first championship. The team will now advance to the next stage.

Riso’s dad Rodney has been an assistant coach for his son’s team in the last three years.

“This year, the kids worked hard in the beginning of the season, and then because we were at the top of the standing, every time somebody played us, they gave their best game, so the kids always had to be playing hard,” he explained. “And I think that really helped in the playoffs.”

Riso also noted that the team had probably played a total of about 55 games, including both matches in the New Jersey Youth Hockey League, its only path to the district championships. The team also played in some non-league games, with a win in the international Silver Stick tournament that enabled it to qualify for finals in Ontario, Canada.

While they didn’t win there, the experience was still encouraging.

“At that point, you had a bunch of kids that hadn’t really played together regularly,” Riso noted. “They knew each other from being around the organization and then heading into October/November, when we really started getting into the season, that’s when they really started coming together and having an idea of what they do out there and know where they’re at.”

For Daniel Riso, winning the state championship this year after losing it twice before “felt awesome.”

“We came into the playoffs playing really hard, and I think people on our team really put in a ton of effort during the playoff,” he maintained, “and I think that’s why we had more success than last year.”

The hockey team headed to Hollydell in North Jersey on March 15 to play in the district regionals against three teams from New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. The team won three of four games, falling one short of securing the district championship title.

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