MOUNT VERNON — Sometimes it takes just the right mix of players for a team to find success. That proved to be true for the Newark Generals Squirt Division All-Stars.
Comprised out of two teams, the Squirt All-Stars did what no one expected — they won. The All-Star team was made up of 14 players, including eight first-year Squirt players. Josh Hogg of Danville and David Haines of Utica were part of the squad of 9- and 10-year-olds.
The Squirt White and Squirt Green teams, the house teams in the Newark Ice Hockey Association from which the All-Stars were pulled, hadn’t had much success this season. The White team went 1-1-12 in the regular season and the Green team finished 0-13. So when the team won the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Tournament with a 5-0 record recently, there was much cause for celebration.
“This was great,” said Hogg, who is a fourth-grader at Danville Elementary School. “I was surprised when we won. ... (The biggest difference) was we played harder and more as a team. I guess we wanted it more.
“(Our regular season) was pretty tough. ... We didn’t know how good we were.”
The Generals started the tournament with a 7-0 shutout of the Butler Valley Bulldogs on Feb. 14. Then, the Squirt All-Stars followed that up with a pair of wins on Feb. 15. They defeated the Arctic Foxes, 6-0, and knocked off the Allegheny Badgers, 6-1, to end pool play. With their 3-0 mark and 19-to-1 goal ratio, the Generals were the No. 1 seed ahead of also undefeated Mon Valley Thunder. The Columbus Crew (2-1) were seeded third, and the Badgers were fourth.
On Feb. 16, the Generals face the Badgers again, and this time, the Squirt All-Stars sent them down to defeat again, 4-1. That moved the team into the championship game against Mon Valley later that day.
The Generals once again showed their offensive prowess and defeated the Thunder, 7-1. The win secured the title and capped an unlikely run.
“I was a lot of fun,” said Hogg. “We went swimming and had fun. The whole trip was great. ... I have a lot of friends on the team and we get along really good. ... This tournament made me better.”
The Generals are back in action this weekend as they play in the McCarthy Cup at the Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena in Newark. The tournament runs Friday through Sunday. They will also play in the Alan Fenton Tournament in Wooster, March 13-15.