LANSING, N.Y.—The Central Outlaws 12U hockey team won the Tier III New York State Hockey Championship at Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena on April 25, emerging from the season with a 26-3-0 record overall, according to an announcement from the Finger Lakes Regional Hockey Association.

Each year since 2016, the Central Outlaws youth hockey program has sent either one or two teams to the state tournament, though last year’s competition was interrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coach Russell Johnson commented in a press release that “When parents say to me, ‘My kid does not seem to be getting enough playing time in games, I’m concerned it’s hurting his or her development,’ it’s easy for a coach to respond, ‘Don’t worry about it, practice is where they get better, not the games.'”

Johnson said that instead of that, he asks if the child learns more with homework or by simply taking the test, drawing a line between sports and education and the preparation both require. COVID-19 continued to hang over the team during the fall; responding to that, Johnson instituted a practice schedule with extra safety protocols to keep families and skaters safe.

Players went through six on-ice sessions per week, emphasizing individual and smaller team drills. Coaches and the health department collaborated to try to maintain safe practices and guidelines while the season continued.

“I am so proud of all the players of Central Outlaws,” Johnson said. “It took true dedication to achieve such a monumental task during a time when the world was saying ‘NO’ to everything. This group of young people said ‘YES, I CAN.'”

The full list of athletes and coaches is here:

Athletes

  • Isaac Chalk
  • Emerson Chiuten-Black
  • Peyton Dattoria
  • Dakota Downs
  • Skylor Ford
  • Gage Jensen-Hedrick
  • Brady Lunger
  • Elijah McCutcheon
  • Gabriel O’Connor
  • Ryne Osmond
  • Nathan Ostrander
  • Brennan Paskins
  • Colin Phillips
  • Andrew (A.J.) Sheehan
  • Mckenna Syer
  • Finn Thomas
  • Julien (Juice) Watts

Coaches

  • Head Coach: Russell Johnson
  • Assistant Coach: James Sheehan
  • Assistant Coach: Jeremy Downs
  • Assistant Coach: Howie Thomas
  • Assistant Coach: Ben Syer

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