After having their consecutive Premier Championships snapped at five the Brampton Express are looking to start a new streak by capturing the Premier Fall division Championship. The most storied franchise ever “Midnight” has captured every Championship possible. National, Premier, Tournament Championships they have claimed them all. With time comes change and the Express have a new youth movement as many of the veterans from years past have moved onto other Premier teams. Midnight has brought in the youth and many of the top young players in the sport to carry on the tradition. A lineup that is star studded from top to bottom the Express have to be considered a favourite in the current Premier season. You can never over look this group and the talent they bring to the floor every time they line up.
All World is the best way to describe 2012 Premier Top Goaltender David DiGironimo. Dave has backstopped the Express to many victories, never allowing that next goal, allowing his high powered offence in front of him a chance to get going. A quick, agile netminder who may be the best when all the marbles are on the line, Dave is the ultimate clutch goaltender. Dave will play an important role in the success down the stretch for his club in their Championship quest.
The defence of the Express has been anchored for years by James ‘Chicky’ Mentis. James has a resume that may never be duplicated. A leader on and off the floor ‘Chicky’ is the heart and soul of the club. His lightning quick speed and ball handling make him an elite player for years to come. Team Canada member and another speedster Marc Parravano is a top level athlete that will be the cornerstone of the defence for the coming years. Fred Pereira may be the best of the bunch, a natural scorer Fred leads the defence in points, is the quarterback of the deadly powerplay and logs mega minutes game in game out. Spencer Irving, Joey Parks and steady rear guard Brandon Ianuzzi, who all three came over from the North York Leafs, make for a formidable top six. The addition of rough and tumble Derek Anderson adds a sense of toughness to the backend. It’s difficult enough to beat DiGironimo even if you can get by these defencemen in your way.
Offence you can never have enough…unless you’re the Express. For years the Express have housed the most dynamic, explosive offence in the game. The ‘Magician’ Chris Morrison Jr. has been the poster boy for offensive production in Premier for over a decade. This slick ball handler has his head on a swivel and can thread the needle of a pass through to anyone. The snipers up front are two players that possess arguably the best one timer in the sport today. Both Tony Montiero and Frankie Giustini can fire the ball with speed and accuracy and giving them even a foot of space usually ends up with the ball in the back of your net. If those three are stopped, you then have to deal with six foot three Shawn Hannon and his breakaway speed and deadly shot. Veteran centerman and clutch scorer Mike Porter is always lurking around the opposition goal and waiting in the wings. Taking a season off is power forward Matt Martello. Injured forward Jim Tabas is a key piece of the puzzle and when healthy will center one of the top two lines. Rounding out the forward lines with Benny Ventullo, Cody Graham, Garrett Bambrough and Steven Head will be a formidable group come the post season.
Without a chance of claiming one of the two coveted byes in the first round, it looks like the Express will be playing in the QF round. As it stands a group including the Hitmen, VRW, Thunder and Express will battle each other to gain a seed in the SF round of four. Can the Express ever be counted out? Whatever the matchups shake out to be in the next round, were all in for some of the best Ball Hockey playoff rounds ever. The Express will be right in the middle of the action and have to be feared by all opponents.
Next is an exclusive interview with a legend of the game that’s excelled as a player, coach and GM for years, John Ventullo of the Brampton Express and his thoughts are here.
John thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to the ball hockey world. Let’s begin with where and how did the career of John Ventullo start in the Ball Hockey world?
In 1993 as a 19 yr old at York Steel plant on Ingram rd. There was a league there for a short time. My friends from high school and the area put a team in called Mighty Metros. We went 1-12-1 and made the playoffs (lol) and went on to win the Championship thanks to a shootout winner from Tony Paiva.
Is there a Provincial Championship level that you haven’t won, in some sort of capacity?
Well if u include Regional's and National's then no...there isn't one.
As a player you’ve made your reputation with your one timer slap shot, what was the biggest goal you have ever scored?
It's funny how u say I’m known for my one timer and yet I'm about to tell you my biggest goal and it was a wrap around! It was the year after winning Tier 4 Provincials, we were in Moncton, NB for the Men's C Eastern Regional's. In the Gold Medal game vs. the Ruff Ryder's it was the only goal to be scored on a goalie that game and the eventual GWG we added an empty netter with 7 secs left... but that has to be my biggest goal...there's one that's a close 2nd but I’ll let u ask Tony Faria about that one...lol...
Trading Matt Tremblett, tell us about the situation and how difficult it must have been from a management standpoint?
Actually trading Matt was easy...I asked for 3 balls and 2 water bottles and got Shawn Hannon And Benny Ventullo! Well obviously u know I'm kidding, Matt's a great player and a great person and it was very hard but it had to be done to keep everyone happy...plus getting Shawn in the deal makes u sleep easy at night...I guess I did ok on that cause I haven't been called into Chicky's office yet.
The Polar Bears upset the Express in the semi-finals last summer, what were your thoughts after the series?
WTF just happened!!!!
With a team loaded with superstars if you could add any one player from around the league who would it be and why?
That's easy. Vic Azevedo I don't need to say why. We all know why!
The Championship rests on a single shootout shooter as you look down your bench who do you choose to take it?
Peter I must say you’re getting good with these questions...that's a hard one...but if I have to answer I guess Tony Montiero.
Who has had the biggest impact on your ball hockey career?
1. Jason Mallais, 2. Chris Malkahassian, 3. James Mentis.
You’re stuck on a deserted island and are able to bring three items what would they be?
I have no idea. Let’s hope that never happens.
One meal for the rest of your life what would you choose?
Steak and potatoes.
If you weren’t the best tile man in Ontario, what would be your dream job?
No idea. Maybe a glove manufacturer that makes only bright yellow gloves. This way I'd have only one customer!!!!
Favourite movie or TV show?
Criminal Minds / Flashpoint.
Will the Express defend their DP Premier Title from 2012 and which team do you hope to avoid in the post season?
Which person in the right frame of mind would answer this question with a no? Of course I think we will defend but with so many teams being alot stronger its gunna be a challenge but if my boys all show up for me than we will win. As for the second part let's not worry about it, it looks like they won't make it.
Describe John Ventullo in three words.
Family, work, hockey. Although my wife (the best wife in the world) would argue the order!!! Lol. Peter I would like to thank you for this opportunity and also for doing above and beyond what is expected of u as commissioner. Keep up the good work!!! If I can I'd like to add one more thing I'd like to start a petition to get Jeff Wilson a tryout with Team Canada!!!
Thank You John for speaking to us.