Apr 29, 2013 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
After only two years in the Northern States Junior Hockey League, the Syracuse Stampede claimed title to the league championship earlier this year.
According to Coach James Muscatello, who hails from Baldwinsville, the Junior A hockey club held a 38-4-0-3 record this season and won the NSHL Cup after defeating Lake George Fighting Spirit 5-4.
“As a result we moved on to the national championships in Las Vegas,” Muscatello said. “We finished with the bronze medal losing in the semi finals to the Bay Area Seals, a Junior A team based out of California.”
As part of the NSHL, a competitive league consisting of teams throughout northeastern states including New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, the Syracuse Stampede is composed of players who are 16 to 20 years old and looking to play NCAA college hockey, Muscatello said.
“We also compete in non-league games with other Junior A teams from other leagues throughout the northeast,” Muscatello said.
While the team consists of players from all over the country as well as international recruits from Sweden, many team members hail from Central New York including Baldwinsville’s own Matt Herman.
“We recruit players as if it is a college program,” Muscatello said. “We travel across the northeast and as far west as Michigan to look for players who cannot only play at our level, but are good character kids. We don’t like to take players away from high school programs, so we are generally looking for players who have graduated and need a few more years before they can play at the college level.”
According to Muscatello, the average age of a college freshman for hockey is 21 years old.
A former Baker High School player who was named the NYS Player of the Year in 2005, Muscatello attended Northwood Prep School for a season before moving on to play NCAA College Hockey at SUNY Fredonia.
“After captaining a top SUNYAC program, I wanted to give back to the hockey community and maintain my passion for hockey,” he said. “Lucky enough for me, right when I graduated college, a new program in Syracuse started, the Syracuse Stampede. In just two years, we have made the program into a college developmental program where we can feed our best players to NCAA programs.”
Muscatello said four players from this year’s team have received college commitments and nine others have received interest from college programs.
Playing all of their home games at the Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena, Muscatello said it is important for the team to give back to the community.
“Our players put on camps and go on the ice with some of the younger teams to help out when they are asked,” Muscatello said. “I think its a great thing when younger kids in the community can look up to our players and see them as role models.”
Muscatello added that support from the community and local fans has helped in growing the program.
“On behalf of the Syracuse Stampede, I would like to personally thank all of the local youth programs, Lysander Youth Hockey in particular, for supporting us throughout this season,” he said. “Also, all members of the Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena staff, specifically Mike Chapman and Matt Rotchford who work many hours in providing the local community a great place to play hockey for not only our players, but all of the local youth who play in the rink as well.”
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