The 2015-2016 18U Hitmen team showcases an exciting and dynamic mix of returning 18U veterans, a strong, deep group of players from last year’s successful 16U and Empire Hitmen teams as well as players new to the Hitmen organization. If the results from their summer schedule are going to be any indication of how the rest of the season will play out, this should be another extremely competitive and success driven team.
The 2014-2015 18U Hitmen finished the season strong by winning the 18U USPHL Season Championship in thrilling fashion by beating the South Kent Selects 4-3 in a third period, come from behind overtime victory. Returning forwards from that Championship team are last year’s point leader, Rob Clerc (32G 36A 68P) and leading goal scorer, Danny Reidel (34G). Clutch goal scorer, Christopher Mazzella, who scored two goals in the Championship game, including the OT winner, also returns up front, together with playmaker, Conor Tierney and special teams extraordinaire, Michael Jordan. Joining this year’s 18U attack will be the leaders of the 2014-2015 16U Hitmen, Khristian Acosta, who led his team in both goals (53G) and points (98P) and Alex Borowiec, the assist and plus/minus leader with 50 assists and a +75 for the season. Also moving up from the 16U team and bolstering the 18U front line are sniper Dakota Concannon, speedy Marty Kapoian, and face-off specialist Emerson Emery. Matt Koziel will be playing wing after spending last year with the Hitmen Empire team. Rounding out the forwards will be newcomers Devin Pepe, Thomas Terranova and Patrick Kissel who spent the summer being initiated into the Hitmen philosophy and style of play. They are expected to add speed, toughness and scoring to an already deep group of forwards.
In their defensive zone, the Hitmen are expecting to be just as formidable as their offensive zone. Beginning at the blueline, the Hitmen have a young defensive corps with six (6) first year 18U defensemen; however, they will be anchored by returning 18U veterans Kyle Hallbauer, last year’s 18U plus/minus leader (+58) and Brandon O’Callahan, a true defenseman’s defenseman. They will be united with Eric Manoukian, Anthony Firriolo, Max Lewicki, Christian DiCesare, Anthony DiCesare, and Ryan Bogan who are all capable of playing a punishing style of defensive play, moving the puck quickly and joining the rush up ice.
Backstopping the defensive zone, in goal will be two time USPHL All Star, Tyler Harmon, who led the 18U Hitmen in their march to the USPHL Championship last year. Harmon will be sharing time between the pipes with first year 18U goalie, Lexi Masanko. Together this tandem should frustrate many of the league’s best scorers and provide the final resting place for many a puck.
At the end of training camp, the Hitmen 18U announced their leadership group for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. Danny Reidel will serve as the team’s Captain and Rob Clerc, Brandon O’Callahan and Michael Jordan will all wear the “A” as the team’s Alternate Captains.