20-in-'12: Rye hockey
Follow Section 1 hockey on Twitter @MSGV_Icass
Coach: Jason Friesen (9th year)
Last year's record: 18-4-1 (lost to Pelham in the Section 1 Division 2 finals)
Returning Starters: 12
Ryan Rogers (senior, forward): Returning all-league talent has totaled four goals and seven assists this year.
Michael Benincasa (junior, forward): Returning all-league standout has a team-high 19 points (9G, 10A) this year.
Names to learn
Chris Lipari (junior, forward): Netted a hat-trick in Rye's 6-6 tie against Section 6's West Seneca West on Dec. 29.
Kirk Holmes (senior, forward): Has registered a point in four consecutive games and totaled three goals and five assists on the year.
Cal Hynson (sophomore, forward): Upstart has been a pleasant surprise this season with three goals and seven assists.
Jack O’Brien (sophomore forward): Started off the season with a goal in each of Rye's first three games.
Jason Chin (junior, defense): A key cog in the power play, Chin has three goals and five assists in 2011-12.
Justin Uzcategui (junior, forward): Stalwart defenseman has racked up a ton of ice time and produced one goal and seven assists.
Aidan Talgo (junior, goalie): First-year starter has excelled in net, playing all 320 minutes while posting a miniscule 1.82 goals against average.
Feb. 1 vs. Pelham at Rye Playland: Rye will be looking for revenge after falling to the Pelicans in last year's Section 1 Division 2 title game.
Feb. 15 vs. John Jay-CR at Playland: The Indians are a dark-horse team in Division 2 and will pose a challenge to the Garnets.
Ryan Rogers Senior Forward 14
Kirk Holmes Senior Forward 23
Sean Pryor Senior Forward 18
Justin Uzcategui Senior Defense 2
CJ Murphy Senior Defense 8
Ben Schaffler Senior Forward 15
Michael Bennincasa Junior Forward 19
Chris Lipari Junior Forward 12
Danny Sullivan Junior Forward 22
Jason Chin Junior Defense 7
Luke Urbanczyk Junior Defense 4
Max Bresolin Junior Defense 3
Aidan Talgo Junior Goalie 35
Peter Collins Junior Forward 10
Cal Hynson Sophomore Forward 11
Jack O’Brien Sophomore Forward 24
Griffin Tuten Sophomore Forward 21
Andrew Urbanczyk Sophomore Forward 20
Garrett DiEdwards Sophomore Defense 6
Brad Holzer Sophomore Forward 16
Patrick Curran Freshman Forward 25
Billy Haynes Freshman Defense 13
Michael Kamer Freshman Defense 5
Nat Deen Freshman Goalie 31
Story of the season
After losing in last year’s Section 1 Division 2 championship game, Rye will look to try and take back the section crown behind a solid combination of experience and youth.
For the past seven years, Rye and Pelham have dominated Section 1’s Division 2. Either Rye or Pelham have won the championship in the past seven seasons, but in the latest chapter, Pelham took control of the rivalry. The Pelicans defeated the Garnets, 1-0, for their fourth title in the past seven seasons.
Fast forward eight months and not much has changed. Pelham and Rye again stand at the top of Division 2 in what looks to be another great battle for the two programs in 2012. Pelham returns all but one player from last year and seems to be the favorite for this year’s title.
Just don’t tell Rye that.
“I know we can definitely play with Pelham,” Rye senior captain Ryan Rogers said. “Everyone picks them as the favorite and rightfully so because they’re a good team. But no one has picked us and it seems like everyone thinks they already have it. That just makes us want to prove everyone wrong.”
After losing some major talent from last year’s team, the Garnets have an interesting blend of experience and youth that has the team excited for 2012.
Rogers, along with junior Michael Benincasa, provide the experienced leadership the Garnets will need in the more grueling parts of the season. Both were all-league players last year and are playing great hockey heading into 2012. Fellow senior Kirk Holmes is an emotional leader who makes big plays. Justin Uzcatgui is a key shutdown defender.
Beyond them, a group of new, fresh talent will ultimately lead to Rye’s success. Head coach Jason Friesen thinks the group will be up to the task.
“We have a good core of kids back,” Friesen said. “We’ve got three pretty solid lines, two of which have been here for a year or two in the program with a good amount of ice time. We have the experience but also the youth, which will blend nicely. Sometimes it’s good to have veterans who have been around for a while. Sometimes it’s good to have fresh faces. We have a little combination of both.”
Forwards Chris Lipari (junior), Jack O’Brien (sophomore) and center Cal Hynson (sophomore) will have big roles on Rye's offense, while junior Jason Chin is a defensive specialist. Junior goalie Aidan Talgo has taken over the full-time role of starter and is making a real difference for the Garnets.”
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team,” Rogers said. “But we have some new guys that are ready to step in. With some other teams you might be a little hesitant having to rely on a younger group, but this group is different. They play older than they are and we have a lot of faith in them.”
As we enter 2012, the experienced yet youthful Garnets will have a tough road ahead of them. However, there is no doubt what drives this team and what their ultimate goal will be come playoff time.
“(Our goal is) to win a section championship,” Holmes said. “That’s it. We need to improve every game and improve as a team. It’s not about one or two players scoring, it’s about everyone working together to win the game.
“I think we have a chance to do something special, but either way I know at the end of the season we will look back and know we worked as hard as possible to give ourselves a chance at a championship. We’ll see how it goes.”
Email Jordan Griffith at Jgriffit@cablevision.com } Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_JGriffith