The highly coveted District 24 sixth-grade hockey tournament trophy has a new home as of last week after Brooklyn Avenue School earned the top prize in dominant fashion.
The Brooklyn Avenue School 1 team went undefeated in its five games during the six-team tournament that featured two squads from each of District 24’s three elementary schools in the William L. Buck School gymnasium on Jan. 15.
The team’s seven players, Lauribel Baez, Mike Martinez, Jenna Rafferty, Nicholas Strangis, John Cataldo, Anthony Carpico and Celeste Taylor, worked well together throughout the tournament and collectively outscored their opponents 16-3 in five games, including a 5-0 victory over William L. Buck 1 in the championship game.
Strangis and Carpico, both hockey players outside of Brooklyn Avenue, paced their squad all day, with dazzling goals left and right. “It feels great,” Strangis said of his team’s win. “Our team worked really hard and we had lots of practices.”
Each school held tryouts for its respective teams and then practiced in the ensuing weeks leading up to the tournament. Phys. ed. teacher and winning coach Andrew Lalama said his team had seven one-hour practices after a two-day tryout to determine players. Lalama added that after each practice, the Brooklyn Avenue students would run in order to get their cardiovascular systems prepared for the tournament.
“I knew we had a good group of kids coming in but they put in a lot of hard work,” he said. “I’m very happy for the kids. They played awesome.”
Brooklyn Avenue 1 kicked off the tournament with a hard fought win over William L. Buck 2, 4-2. Since the tournament was double-elimination — when a team loses twice it’s out — it made for an interesting bottom half of the bracket. Despite losing its first game, Buck 2 rallied to win its next two games before ultimately suffering its second defeat at the hands of Buck 1 in the finals of the one-loss side of the bracket.
Robert W. Carbonaro School was the two-time defending champion of the tournament, but both its teams got knocked out early. However, its players all had a good time running around with their friends.
Sixth-grader Breana Pellicane played on Robert W. Carbonaro 2 and said she had a lot of fun. “We could’ve done better but it was good,” she said.
Robert W. Carbonaro 1 lost a hard fought game to Brooklyn Avenue 2, 2-1, in a match that saw its fair share of fine defensive plays.
In its semifinal match, Brooklyn Avenue 1 squared off against Buck 1. Brooklyn Avenue’s two top scorers caught fire in the game’s final minutes that included Strangis making a behind-the-back pass through traffic to Carpico who promptly found the back of the net.
“I’m glad we won,” Strangis said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Assemblyman Brian Curran sponsored the tournament and Jet Blue provided jerseys. Erin King Sweeney, a consultant for Jet Blue, attended the event and said it was great to see the children having fun. “Jet Blue isn’t looking for fanfare,” she said, “they’re just looking to get involved in the community and help out the kids.”
Legislator Carrié Solages attended the tournament and presented certificates to the participants on behalf of his and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages’ offices. Carrié Solages also took a turn in net during an intermission and faced a shot from one player from each school. He spoke to the players about the importance of the word “student” in “student-athlete.”
Brooklyn Avenue Principal Dr. Scott Comis coordinated the event with the district’s Phys. Ed. department. “I’m proud of all the students that participated,” he said. “The Carbonaro, Buck and Brooklyn Avenue students performed very well and they evidently trained very well in their practices with their teachers. I’m very proud of the performance of the Brooklyn Avenue students.”
Comis added that the trophy is already proudly on display in the school’s main office.