The Western Connecticut Youth Hockey Association opened its season Saturday afternoon with Hockey Day in Danbury, at Danbury Arena, with a ceremonial puck drop by Mayor Mark Boughton. Skaters from all eight of the organization’s travel hockey teams were introduced in a ceremony that featured a banner raising for Western’s Pee Wee A team, which won the Connecticut Hockey Conference Pee Wee Tier III state championship in March.
It was the organization’s first-ever state championship. The team had five players and an assistant coach from Newtown.
The Hockey Day in Danbury event was held to promote the organization. All eight travel teams played at home in Danbury on Saturday.
“My idea was to celebrate hockey and celebrate our organization,” said John Browne, president of the youth hockey organization. “We’re trying to grow our organization, so we’re trying to draw some notoriety to the program. The ultimate plan is to grow our player base to make this the best youth hockey organization in the area.”
Players skated into the Patriot Rink and lined up on the blue lines for the National Anthem. After several introductions, Boughton was invited to center ice to shoot a puck. His shot was on goal, but it was kicked aside by a Western goalie.
Rich Dibble of Danbury, head coach of the champion Pee Wee A team, introduced his players and unveiled a state championship banner that will hang in the Patriot Rink.
The players were 11 and 12 years old when they won the title in March. Among the players on the team were Newtowners Ethan Cox, Jack Hanley, Devin Marsh, Andrew Gardner, and Nathan Torre-Tasso. The assistant coach was Tim Hanley of Newtown.
“It (winning the state championship) was good for the organization and the players who won it,” said Dibble, who was assisted on the bench by assistant coaches John Whitehead and Dave Burke of Danbury, and Tim Hanley of Newtown. “Being an organization that grows from within, all those kids were Western kids, and it was really great to see them succeed.”
The team represented Connecticut at the New England Sectional Tournament at The Rinks in Shelton, where it lost to eventual tournament champion Tri Town from Brasher Falls, N.Y., in the semifinals.
Western welcomes new players to its organization.
Information about the program is available by visiting www.jrcolonialhockey.net.