West Orange Youth Ice Hockey League Scores Big
Sunday, August 25, 2013 • 2:09am
WEST ORANGE, NJ - On Monday, Aug. 19 the West Orange Mountaintop League’s youth ice hockey players laced up their tiny skates for the sixth and final time this summer. The summer ice slots at Richard Codey Arena were full of children excited to learn the game of hockey in a beginner's program that began on July 15.
“Momentum is what we need, and we have got it,” league president Brad Palent said.
Youth hockey in West Orange has reached a surprising level of notoriety over the past six weeks. Eighty children with smiles ear to ear took to the ice for an hour and a half clinic to skate, pass, and shoot. West Orange’s Mountain Top League partnered with the West Orange High School Hockey Program led by new head coach Eddie Scafidi to create the clinic as a way to spur interest in town for the sport.
Hockey is very unique in the way its high school players are produced. Naturally athletic children can’t just ‘pick up’ the sport like they may be able to do in football or soccer. They need to learn how to skate, and skate athletically, on a slick surface that’s unlike anything they’ve been accustomed to.
The best players are groomed from a young age. Ice hockey is one of New Jersey's oldest high school sports programs, and West Orange is fairly new to the competition. Ice hockey has long been popular in New Jersey’s private schools, with Delbarton a perennial favorite, along with other schools like Princeton Day, CBA and Don Bosco Prep. Making the public schools more competitive with private schools that recruit top players with scholarships, along with the “grooming” of players is what West Orange has lacked, especially in recent years. Mountain Top’s extraordinarily successful program is finally bridging that gap. The best high school hockey teams in the state have feeder programs that filter into their high school team. These clinics are slowly but surely laying the foundation for the feeder programs that the high can utilize for competitive ice hockey.
After six weeks of clinics progress was evident. Attendance rates were nearly perfect with close to eighty skaters at each clinic. The armies of children grasping onto the boards for dear life week one was no more. Participants did not just leave the boards to tumble around in open ice, but were actually skating. As the weeks went on families invested in full hockey gear for their child, one by one more and more fully equipped kids were popping up on the ice each and every week.
In response to the success of the summer hockey clinic The Mountaintop League is proud to announce an addition of clinics that will start this coming fall.
“The clinics will be set up for both beginners learning to skate and a section for full equipment youth ice hockey.” added Palent.
Sessions two and three will be on Mondays and Wednesday at Clary Anderson Arena in Montclair and will begin on Sept. 4. Just as they were in the Summer, the clinics will be supervised by Coach Scafidi and members of his team, along with volunteers from the community. The snowball effect that this clinic has caused is what West Orange hockey needs.
For more information, go to the Mountaintop League website.