By Friends of SYHA
Coming into the 2021-22 season, Somerville Youth Hockey saw its lowest point with only enough kids in the program to field one team at each age level. When that happens, theres an internal battle where there’s a wide spread of skillset on each team. Better skilled players may be forced to play a lower competition or lower skilled players may be forced to play a higher level of competition.
It caused concern around the Somerville Hockey community and people did not expect much success out of it.
Throughout a long season, Somerville’s Peewee and Bantam teams did the unexpected. Both teams were placed in top AA divisions and fought their way to stay at the top of their divisions.
By the time the playoffs came around, the players on both teams were destined to finish the job. Not only was it unexpected for a Somerville team to make a run in the playoffs, but both Peewee and Bantam teams battled their way to the championship in each of their divisions.
On Saturday April 9, The Bantam team was sent up to Lawrence to take on a great Brookline team in the finals. After being down 2-0 at the end of the first period, Somerville knew to turn on the jets. With goal scoring in the second and third periods and stellar goaltending from Somerville goaltender Joshua Pite, Somerville completed the comeback and won 4-2 in strong fashion.
The same day, the Peewee team took on a very tough Triboro team in the finals. A few weeks prior, Triboro defeated Somerville 7-3 and the team knew that was unacceptable. After being tied 0-0 at the end of the first period, mid-way in the second, Somerville forward Kyle Antonelli scored a “blue collar” goal to take a 1-0 lead. With about 5 minutes remaining in regulation and the score tied 1-1, Somerville’s power play unit went to work. With a slick pass from forward Andrew Pugliese, stand-out defenseman Sean Chaffee scored with an unbelievable shot from the blue line. Somerville after playing stellar defense for the rest the game, managed to hang on and win 2-1.
Not only was it unexpected to have two teams in Somerville win championships, but to have two teams from the same program win it all in the Valley Hockey League is very rare to come by.
In the NHL, teams that struggle tend to go into a “rebuild”. Usually teams rebuilding don’t see success for quite some time. Somerville Youth Hockey went into this year planning to rebuild their program on and off the ice. Bringing in massive numbers in their Saturday morning Learn to Skate and Learn to Play program, their focus was to build from the bottom-up and work on engaging more young kids in the city to play hockey here. The teams at the older levels clearly wanted to show everyone around the city why SYHA is the answer for kids wanting to play hockey here and that the winning tradition is back in the city of Somerville!