MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Lou Pedatella knows the virtues of a second chance. The longtime head coach of the Brewster Lady Bulldogs program in Brewster, New York, witnessed a positive change in his squad, both on and off the ice as the Lady Bulldogs advanced to the Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 14U Nationals at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
"The girls were eliminated at [the USA Hockey New York District Tournament] so they got the at-large bid, and to see them come out and score 11 goals through the first two games is incredible," said Pedatella, after his 14U squad collected a second consecutive win with a 5-1 result over the Kensington Valley Ravens on Friday morning.
Five different players tallied for the Bulldogs.
"Having a second life and knowing that now you have a chance to win a national championship is something really special and I think the girls are intent on pursuing that goal," said Pedatella, who additionally coaches the program's 19U team.
The Bulldogs roster is chock full of players who formerly skated for a boys team in the Hudson Valley area. The potential player pool, a definite concern in the earlier days of the program, has seen a strong turnaround. Coach Pedatella and his staff, recognizing the need to build from the ground up, have seen the efforts of their collective labor come to fruition.
"We actually announced before the tournament that we're going to be going Tier I and we have three teams here at the nationals. I've been director of the program now going on eleven years and this is the first time we've had that happen," he said.
Pedatella's efforts in bringing aboard the right people have paid off, allowing him to focus on both 14U as well as 19U. "I think we needed to bring the coaching staff down [to 14U], to begin teaching the culture that we seek for our organization," he said in regard to the current as well as future state of the program.
On the ice through the initial two days of action, the Lady Bulldogs have received a strong offensive push from Emily Stefanelli and Callia Ferraris, who have combined for six goals and nine points. Grace Haesche has backstopped the defensive efforts, producing a pair of wins and allowing a single goal en route to a .962 save percentage.
The New York club began play with a 6-0 victory over the Anaheim Lady Ducks and will conclude pool play on Saturday morning against an unbeaten Charles River Blazers club.
"It's been an incredible journey since we received the phone call that we got the at-large bid and three days later we go to practice and suddenly everyone has jump in their legs. 'What just happened,' I thought," said Pedatella. "Overall, it's been exciting across the board for all of us to be part of a great tournament."
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.