MINOR ANTS LOOK TO BRING BACK THE BANNERThe Minor Ants look to kick off the 2009/2010 AIHL Season - "Lighting A Fire To Bring Back The Banner!"
November 4th 2009, Zrink - Glastonbury, CT
2009-2010 FireAnts Minor Team preview.
The inaugural 2008-2009 AIHL season saw the Hartford Fire Ants Minors squad take a step back in its growth. In 2007-2008 the Ants Minors team only lost 4 games all season en route to a NorthEast minors championship. Last year saw the maturity and moving on of Tyler Dasilva and Nick Tomczyk who were superstars in the minors level since they were 16 years old.
The Ants last season started the season 11-3 but only won 3 games in the second half of the season to finish at .500 and back into the playoffs as the fourth seed on the last day of the season. This was not an acceptable result for a minors team who won over 45 games combined in the previous two seasons.
The Ants took the powerful Swamp Donkeys to game three before falling in the playoffs. The owners and coaches convened over the offseason and looked for ways to improve the team.
Many players from last seasons’ minors team are not returning. Forward Alex Waters now plays for the Maryland organization and Ben Peterson did not return. These two players led the minors team in goals and need to be replaced. Veteran Justin Silvia retired and will be missed.
On defense Tyler Grippin, Frank Guffrie and Kyle Phelan are not returning. The biggest losses come in the net. Franchise all time leader in minors goaltending Andy Pettola has retired and his veteran presence will be missed. Brian Cachuela is out all year with a shoulder injury and Greg Marshall has moved on to the Elite team.
Not all is bad news as this season sees four players from the Fire Ants junior program move up and join several other new players to re-invigorate the Ants team.
2009-2010 Minor Forwards
Hal Withington Age: 30 Hometown: East Haven, CT
Brian Gilleece Age: 24 Hometown: Waterbury, CT
Antoinette Maldonado Age: 23 Hometown: Glendora, CA
Billy Ciervo Age: 17 Hometown: New Britain, CT
Brian Salce Age: 22 Hometown: Farmington, CT
Luccio Battista Age:18 Hometown: Hopewell Junction, NY
Justin Tyrell Age: 21 Hometown: Black Rock, CT
The Fire Ants offense sputtered in 2008-2009. In response Coach Furnari has moved Hal Withington and his cannon of a shot to the wing and also moved up talented Brian Gilleece to the wing to provide some offense. Newcomer Antoinette Maldonado will be dangerous on the power play and in open space. Antoinette is another in a line of accomplished womens players that join the Ants franchise. Antoinette is a former D1 ice player and holds two gold medals from Womens team USA. Billy Ciervo from the Jr Ants program looks to crack the lineup and Brian Salce with his ridiculous hands will be asked to contribute big time. Luccio Battista has a lot of talent and will be asked to mature and lead the team while another new addition Justin Tyrell brings elite experience to the corps.
2009-2010 Minors Defensemen
Jordan St. Jean Age: 19 Hometown: Plainville, CT
Tyler Weslowski Age: 16 Hometown: Plainville, CT
Mike Dubecky Age: 22 Hometown: South Windsor, CT
Dan Scalamogna Age: 27 Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Dan Petrelle Age: 19 Hometown: Milford, CT
Tim Colman Age: 30 Hometown: Somerville, MA
Jared Allen Age: 28 Hometown: Waterbury, CT
Zack Grenier Age: 16 Hometown: Bristol, CT
The Fire Ants defense is revamped from last season. Only Petrelle and Colman remain from that squad and both will be counted on to embrace bigger roles and performance. Mike Dubecky is a big pickup, another Ant with college ice experience, he has a nasty shot and will be potent on the powerplay. Jordan St. Jean, Tyler Weslowski, and Zack Grenier are all solid players from the Jr Ants program and showcase a bright future for the FireAnts. All will see big minutes. Dan Scalamogna is a veteran pick up from the Bandits minors organization and will be counted on for a solid presence on the back end. Jared Allen has come out of retirement to bring some bigtime ability and talent to the defensive team.
2009-2010 Minors Goaltending
Brian Miltz Age 32 Hometown: Vernon, CT
Kyle Cox Age 25 Hometown: Marion CT
Mike Berry Age 40 Hometown: Nashville, TN
The Ants minors goalies enter the season with only 2 starts between them for last year. However, Miltz is a veteran netminder and will carry the load well. Kyle Cox is a solid goalie and will see action in his first season in the AIHL. Veteran Mike Berry, who had 6 shutouts 3 seasons ago is enjoying a resurgence and earned a spot with solid pre-season play and leadership.
2009-2010 Season Outlook
The Ants begin the season Nov 7th at the Feasterville Jamboree. They will play six games against the previously unknown Colonial division. They follow up with their home opener November 14th against rival Boston Swamp Donkeys. The Ants will have two more games prior to Jan 2010 and then will hit the meat of their schedule for this season. This will be a definitive transition year as the Ants look to recapture their past success and return to the elite ranks of minor teams. Joe Furnari and the coaches will definitely light a fire under this mix of youth and veterans to bring the banner back to Hartford. See ya on the rink!