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New England Youth Notebook: Resilient Play Leads 14U Darien Wave to Tier II Nationals

By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com, 03/26/14, 4:45PM MDT

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Resilient was an adjective that kept popping up when Darien Wave coach Joe Minnix reflected on his team’s championship run at the New England Tier II 14-and-Under district tournament at the MHG Center in Saco, Maine.

“There was more adversity on this team than any other we’ve coached,” said Minnix, who coaches with Mike Cioffi, after the Connecticut-based Wave beat Winchester, N.H., 5-3 in the finals. “We had a lot of injuries. We lost kids to high school and then there were more injuries. In the state tournament we lost two of our better forwards to injuries.

“As a team, we needed to be resilient and work together for that common goal. We had a lot of fighters on this team and asked a lot of them to step up in situations to be leaders. Everybody up and down the lineup performed as best as they could but especially during the sectionals.”

After going 3-0 in the round-robin portion of the sectionals, the Wave beat Manchester 6-1 and the Casco Bay A team 7-3 in the semifinals before polishing off Winchester.

“The message before [the game against Casco Bay] was we all have our individual reasons why we want to win this championship,” Minnix said. “We needed to come together collectively. Combining individual goals with team goals leads to success.”

That’s exactly what happened when the Wave faced off against Casco Bay.

“The turning point was when the team got into its flow and started playing together, which was against Casco Bay,” Minnix said. “We always were a team built on flow. If we got into our flow, we were difficult to stop.

“We were hitting on all cylinders. We were cycling the puck well. The key was resiliency. We always found a way to get it done.”

Forwards who helped find “a way to get it done” included Tyler Hill, Jack Cavanaugh, Sam New and Cotter Scanlon.

“New and Scanlon have been with us since the beginning of the journey until the end,” Minnix said. “What made Tyler and Jack unique is they left to join their high school teams [Hill plays varsity for New Canaan while Cavanaugh is on the Fairfield Prep junior varsity]. They left in the first week in December. The rule is they can return once their high school season ends.

“When Tyler’s season ended he was able to play in the second half of the state tournament and the sectional tournament.”

What really was unique was the status of Max Romeyn, who plays varsity for Darien High, which played in the state finals on March 22.

“The sectionals already were going on, but Max wanted to complete the journey with this team so he came back and played in the semis and finals,” Minnix said. “In the end, resiliency, adversity and teamwork equaled success.”

To say the Wave enjoyed a successful season would be an understatement considering they finished with an overall record of 46-15-2. Moreover, success and Darien Wave Bantam A teams aren’t exactly complete strangers.

During one period from the early 1980s through the middle of the last decade, Wave Bantam A teams captured six Connecticut Division I or Division II state championships plus two regional titles.

“I’ve been part of this Bantam A team for 14 years,” Minnix said. “There’s been a culture of building life lessons inside the locker room. It’s been the opportunity to take hockey as a microcosm of life. Right now, they might not realize what will happen 20 years from now. Mike and I can establish a discipline where kids must learn how to compete.

“Then they can take those core disciplines into the real world. Only a small percentage makes it to the pros. That way, they continue those disciplines throughout college and into the real world.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.


District Champions

Tier I Youth

14U: Mid-Fairfield Yankees

Tier II Youth

14U: Darien Wave

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