The Syracuse Stampede Junior A Hockey Club celebrates after winning the Northern States Hockey League Cup. Coached by Baldwinsville’s James Muscatello, the team plays out of the Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena.
Baldwinsville 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.