The 2014 Premier winter season came to end with the North York Hitmen capturing their first ever Premier Championship. After defeating the Toronto Thunder in the semi-final round the Hitmen took down the Vaughan Red Wings in a two straight games. It was an exciting series winning game one by the score of 4-2 and the deciding game by the score of 3-2.
After a suspect opening game to the regular season by the Hitmen, a 5-1 loss to the Orangemen, things looked bleak. With key players out till near Christmas, Head Coach Angelo Gaetano and GM Pat Ventullo had their work cut out for them. After falling to the Orangemen in the quarter finals of the summer season in two games, tweaking was needed to get to the next level. Kodi Hollingsworth was signed as a free agent to add an edge and became a clutch goal scorer. Jonathon Porier who had dabbled in and out of the lineup in previous seasons became a big time player and between himself and Hollingsworth they tallied sixteen goals combined. Veteran leadership was brought in by signing Bill Hutton whose steady play stabilized the front line. With the additions to the lineup it was time for the Hitmen to make their mark on the division. After a fourteen game regular season the Hitmen found themselves in the number two seed heading to post season play. The season was a coming out party for sniper Jonathon Pulicicchio who took the team on his back and offensively lead the team with an outstanding twenty six points only four points less than division leader Frankie Giustini of the Pylons. Goaltender Dave Clark cemented himself as a legitimate Premier starter and was a key piece to the success. Victor Azevedo and Danny Rocha would return to the lineup in and around the midpoint of the season and the Hitmen became one of the favourites to win the Championship. All the pieces finally started to fall in to place.
The Toronto Thunder had eliminated the Hitmen in the 2012 fall playoffs but the tables would turn in 2013. The Hitmen, besides the five goal output from Thunder sniper Jeff Wilson, would gain revenge by this time eliminating the Thunder in a two game sweep. The Vaughn Red Wings would eliminate the Metro Orangemen and the finals would be set.
These two teams had battled for years at both the Premier and Tier 2 levels so they were both well versed on each other’s style and game plans. Game one saw the Hitmen win by the score of 4-2 on a late goal from superstar defencemen Vic Azevedo, sealed by an empty netter from Anthony Novia. Game two saw the VRW take a 2-1 lead into the second period. The Hitmen would score the only two goals of the second period as Alberto Cucchiara leveled the Hitmen at 2-2 and a late PP goal from youngster Hollingsworth arguably the biggest goal of his young career gave the Hitmen a 3-2 lead with just over one minute to go. The Hitmen defence along with the goaltending of Clark preserved the lead and the Hitmen’s first Championship. Leading the Playoffs in scoring was forward Anthony Novia of the Hitmen who also was awarded the Playoff MVP.
The Hitmen have earned seed at the 2014 National Ball Hockey Championships to be held in Calgary, Alberta later this year. I would like to congratulate Angelo Gaetano, Pat Ventullo and the entire North York Hitmen Ball Hockey Club on reaching their ultimate goal a Premier Championship.
With another season in the books I would like to thank all the members who made this season the success it was, for without all of you there would be no us. As one door closes another will open and planning has already commenced for the 2014 summer season and I look forward to another excitement packed season of the best Premier action in the Province. See you all in April.