HAT TRICK — Pictured, from left: Louis Davies, Jarrett Wolf, Jake Galvin, Chase Judkiewicz and Jacob Bystryk. These are the Springville-Griffith Institute players who are playing on the Springville Pioneer Modified Club Hockey team. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville/Pioneer Modified hockey team began its season, with practices in early March. The team is made up of 20 players from sixth, seventh and eighth grade.
Five of the team’s players come from the Springville area. Eighth grader Louis Davies and seventh grader Jacob Bystryk hail from Springville and are playing in their second and third years on the team, respectively.
Three Springville sixth graders, Jarrett Wolf, Chase Judkiewicz and Jake Galvin, are also a part of the team.
“It’s something that we want to keep growing,” said Head Coach Chris Jones, about his team.” This year, I have the most kids on the team that I’ve ever had. It’s really important to us, that we continue to grow the program, so that even if we lose a couple kids next year, we aren’t scrambling to keep our numbers around 20.”
The Springville/Pioneer team plays games against Hamburg, Canisius, West Seneca, East Aurora, Alden, Cleveland Hill, JFK, Lake Shore and Orchard Park, to name a few.
Jones said that the teams his players go up against are usually made up of mostly eighth graders, with a few seventh graders thrown in, while the Springville/Pioneer team has participants from sixth – eighth grade.
The team is made up of kids from the Springville/and Pioneer areas, but Jones said that he may also include players from Olean and Franklinville.
“Being from a small area like Springville or Pioneer ... that doesn’t have a town hockey rink,” he said.
“I try to take as many kids from there as I can. In past years, we’ve only had as many as 12 or 13 kids, on the team. If there is interest from kids that can hold their own and they’re in the sixth grade, then I try to take them and they’ll be with me for three years.”
Through the team’s first four games, sixth grader Jarrett has won 75 percent of his faceoffs and has two assists. Wolf and fellow sixth grader Chase are forwards, while sixth grader Jake is a defenseman.
“All three of those sixth graders are really talented players,” Jones said.
“Judkiewicz, Wolf and Galvin are probably the most talented players on the team, on top of wanting them to be with me for three years. All three play travel hockey. Wolfy is probably the best player on the team. I mean, there are kids in this league who are 6 foot tall and he is probably 4 foot 3, on a good day. It’s full checking and he does a really good job.”
Jones said that he has a wide variety of kids on his team. Some of his players participate in no other travel or house league hockey team and some of his athletes play AAA travel hockey, which is the highest level of travel hockey.
Jarrett, Chase and Jake play AAA travel hockey, along with participating on the Springville/Pioneer Club team.
While the junior varsity and varsity club teams play during the winter, the modified team plays during the spring and summer, because other leagues players are involved with continue, during the winter.
All of the team’s players are old enough to be eligible for town teams, like the Hamburg Hawks, West Seneca Wings and Southtown Stars, according to Jones.
Louis has been playing on the team since he was in sixth grade. He currently has 1 goal and one assist, thus far, this season.
This is Jacob’s second year in the program, after he participated, last year, as a sixth grader.
“A lot of teams don’t even take sixth graders,” Jones said. “The rule is that you can’t take a sixth grader, if you cut a seventh or eighth grader. All the other big teams, like the Orchard Parks or Hamburgs, and all them, they get enough kids that they can keep mostly eighth graders and sprinkle in a few seventh graders, if need be.”
Five of the 20 Springville/Pioneer athletes are in sixth grade. “We do pretty well. We are fairly competitive,” Jones said.
The coach is assisted by Bruce and Alex Kessler.