Rolling out to San Jose
Going into this season, hopes were high for the NJ Titan U16 National Team, as a strong returning core of 1995 birth year players, as well as the incoming group of 1996 birth year players selected to the team meshed with a group of outside players to become one of the more talked about Titan Pre-Season squads in a long time.
So far, with AYHL play under way, it seems like the squad has been able to live up to the hype so far. The Titans, off to a quick start in League Play at 5-0-0 have been one of the more stifling defensive teams in the league, as they have clamped down on some strong offenses in league play in both the Atlantic League and the North American Prospects Hockey League where the Titans are off to a 4-1 start under coach George Haviland.
In the Atlantic League, the Titans have sprinted out to this start by virtue of wins over the Long Island Gulls, NJ Devils Youth, New York Saints, Team Comcast, and the Philadelphia Little Flyers. In the NAPHL, the Titans were bested in their opener by the San Jose Jr. Sharks, but bounced back to knock off the Pikes Peak Miners, Phoenix Firebirds, California Titans, and the Texas Tornado.
With some important games in league play as well as the 2ndNAPHL Showcase upcoming this weekend in San Jose, the Titan U16 National Team is in a stretch where they must continue their strong play. In Atlantic League play, the Titans still have upcoming matchups looming against the NJ Devils Youth, Valley Forge Minutemen, Long Island Royals, and Philadelphia Jr. Flyers on the horizon. In the mean time, in San Jose this weekend, the Titans drew the St. Louis Selects, West Michigan Hounds, OZ Fitness, and Pursuit of Excellence in their quest to continue their strong play.
The Titans have received strong goaltending from Chris D’Alessio and Joe Licata all season long. Tommy Panico, RJ Steer, and Trevor Heuser have led the defense, with each putting up five plus points in Blaine, Minnesota at the first NAPHL Showcase, with Panico picking up six more points so far in AYHL play and nine points in NAPHL play. Up front, Lucas Habich led the Titans with seven points in Blaine, while in AYHL play, the Titans have gotten three or more points from Anthony Cusanelli, Kyle Gatta, Lucas Habich, Ryan Price, Glenn Florczak, Nick Minerva, and Andy Vovk, who also picked up three points at the NAPHL Showcase.
As the saying goes, it’s not how you start but how you finish, so the finish will be most important for the Titans, but if starts count for anything, this has to be considered a bright one.