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    Hockey players get a shot to see something different

    By NANCY MORGAN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 10, 2001


    Although the Tampa Bay Stars spend a lot of time on the ice and in the cold, many of the youth hockey travel team members never had seen snow.

    A trip last month satisfied that deficiency when the Stars' squirt and midget squads advanced to the North American Silver Stick Finals in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

    To reach the championships, the squirts (9-10 year olds) defeated four teams, including the Ellenton Eels 3-0 in the title game of the Southern Regional Silver Stick Championships in Huntsville, Ala.

    "Most of boys on the team have been in the Tampa Bay Stars system five years," said Jay Nelson, who coaches the club with Mike Lucke. "Learning and developing through the system certainly helps tremendously."

    The midgets (15-17 year olds) won four regional games to qualify for the national event.

    The squirts were led in scoring by Nathan Altman, Chad Bryan, Adam Lucke, Ryan Johnson and Troy Nelson. Max Furlong, Gregg Leonard, Steven Shlemon and Michael Holmes were the assists leaders.

    In the squirts' first game in Sarnia, the Stars eliminated the Sarnia Sting 6-3 with two goals apiece from Altman and Bryan and one each from Lucke and Johnston. Michael Adams played goalie for Tampa Bay.

    An 8-1 win over the Binghamton Jr. Iceman in the second game included goals by Altman, Bryan, Lucke and Nelson. Strong defense kept Binghamton at bay.

    Lucke and Altman scored three goals against Tillonsburg, but that was four less than needed for the Stars to advance to the semifinal round. A mere .01 percent kept the squirts from entering their first national tournament final four round.

    "It was really fun," said Lucke, a Tampa Bay center. "We got to play against teams from Canada and some of the best around."

    Lucke, who started hockey when he was 5, works hard on winning the faceoff.

    As a center in the defensive zone, Lucke said he tries to get the puck out of the area and in the offensive zone and helps the wings and corners get the puck within scoring areas.

    Bryan, 11, plays center and sometimes right wing.

    Having started hockey lessons when he was 5, Bryan especially liked playing against the Canadian teams and experiencing snow for the first time.

    "My Dad is from Pittsburgh, so he was always watching hockey on TV," Bryan said. "I started watching it and kind of liked it. Then, I just kept playing and taking lessons."

    Rounding out the squirt squad are Scott Crawley, Greg Leonardo, Adam Pietrafesa, and Patrick Younger.

    Right wings Anthony Bohn, Christopher Green and Stephen Platthy and left wings Matthew Crum, Armon Jadidian, Shawn Henry and Paul Lentini contributed to the scoring for the Tampa Bay midget team. Dino Daminato and Paul Deiley shared time at goalie.

    Deiley is fourth in saves in the Florida Youth Hockey League (FYHL) midget division.

    Andrew Broughton, John Appley and Michael Sfura play center for the midget squad. The defenders are Alan Walsh, Ryan Sampson, Joshua McKarney, Bobby Lovetere and Christopher Doyle.

    The team is coached by Nigel Kirwan, Brian Maki, John Bohn and Dave Beaudin.

    Despite a first-round win, losses to a Canadian team and one from Dayton, Ohio, eliminated the midget squad from advancing to the final four round.

    GIRLS SWIMMING: LaFleur's of Largo was third in Level 7 team competition on the first-place all-around efforts of Briana Melander and Lindsey LeCroy in the 15th Gemini Cup.

    LaFleur's Level 9 squad was fourth, and Level 8 was 10th.

    All-around honors went to Elizabeth Hermann (fourth), Whitney Eberhardt (fifth) and Alyssa Wright (eighth) in Level 9. Jodie Heinicka was ninth all-around in Level 10, and Lesley Valenty was 11th.

    In Level 9 event finals, Wright was second in the floor exercise, sixth on beam and seventh on vault; Eberhardt was fifth on uneven bars and seventh on beam; Hermann was third on vault. Valenty was sixth on vault in Level 10 finals.

    The Tampa Bay Turners defended their 2000 Gemini Cup team title in St. Petersburg.

    Bayside Gymnastics placed sisters Joy and Victoria DiStefano first in Level 7 all-around competition in the Universal International Invitational in Miami. Jenna Paul was fifth all-around, and Kristina Low was seventh. In Level 8, Danielle Carey and Casey Caleca took third all-around.

    BOYS GYMNASTICS: The Apollo School of Gymnastics finished second in Class 7 team competition, third in Class 5 and sixth in Class 6 in the boys Whitlow Invitational in Orlando last month.

    Top all-around placements were earned by Bradley Hutson, fourth in Class 7; Jordan Loscalzo and Grant Brittain, second in Class 5; and Sterling Jackson, third in Class 6.

    BASKETBALL: Tryouts for the 10th year of the Clearwater Green Wave AAU girls program begin next weekend.

    In all, seven teams for players 16 and younger will be selected. Teams compete in AAU tournaments throughout the state in March through May.

    Tryouts for the 10-and-under and 12 squads are scheduled for 1-3:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Long Center. For players 11 years old, tryouts are 6-8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Pinellas Park High School. Players 13 are scheduled for 1-3:30 p.m. March 3 at the Long Center, players 14 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. March 10 at Pinellas Park High, players 15 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. March 10 at Joe Dimaggio Fieldhouse and players 16 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. March 10 at Pinellas Park High.

    The tryouts are free. Selected players pay a $100 registration fee. For further details, call program director Jon East, 524-6532, or the Clearwater For Youth office, 725-4004.

    SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: More than 65 swimmers from seven clubs competed last weekend in a Florida Association Junior/Senior Championship Meet at the Southwest Pool in Largo.

    Suncoast WaterWorks synchronized swimmers Crystal Amsinger, Nondi Garrett and Stephanie Joyce won the junior trio competition.

    Finishing first in the senior team division were WaterWorks members Jennifer Amsinger, Kara Clemens, Jamie Freshour, Meredith Cooke, Rachael Farkash, Andrea Apple, Crystal, Garrett and Joyce.

    Darcee Kingsley, Andrea Patterson, Rachel Rooth, Ali Harson, Caitlin Carey and Diana Paul each were third in senior team, as were Kingsley, Patterson and Rooth in junior trio.

    TWIRLING: Jennifer George won the Mini National Sweetheart title in a Drum Majorettes of America contest in Cleveland.

    The 16-year-old was first in solo twirling and basic strutting and fourth in fancy strutting. George trains at Deb's All-Stars in Clearwater.

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