Welcome to the NJ Jr. Titans Bantam Minor home opener. We kick-off the 2008-2009 season with a non-League game versus our nemesis from Long Island – Suffolk PAL. Expect both Suffolk and the Jr.Titans to establish a physical game which should carry over to their regular season match-ups. Your Jr. Titans are fresh of a stinging 5-1 loss to the Jr. Flyers yesterday in West Chester, PA. The coaching staff is looking for these young men to bounce back today with a solid effort in front of our home crowd. The boys are anxious to get back to the winning atmosphere created at the Mass. Outlaws tournament two weeks ago.

Our 4-game “ho-hum” pre-season tournament in Marlboro,MA turned into a grueling six-game experience culminating in a Silver medal by our under-manned squad. We split Day one of the tournament – soundly beating the GBL Bruins and losing to the improved Dual State Huskies. Day two saw us sweep our remaining round robin games setting up a re-match with the Dual State Huskies on Sunday morning. Your ’95 Jr. Titans totally dominated the Dual State Huskies in the semi-final jumping out to a 3-0 lead, then hanging on for a 4-2 win. Fatigue finally caught up to our boys in the Finals as we fell to our in-state League rival Mercer Chiefs 3-1. It was nothing short of a valiant effort by our boys as we finished the tournament with only eleven players (including Ryan Strapp who was sick all weekend but still played well). Our veteran defense was outstanding all weekend, obviously aided by timely goals from our 7 forwards. Of course, our berth in the Finals could not have been possible without solid goaltending from George Blinick and Chris D’Alessio.

Turning to yesterday’s League opening 5-1 loss, the coaching staff chooses to believe it was an aberration. After the first 6-7 minutes we just looked out-of-sync in our own zone. The boys seemed mesmerized by the speed of the Jr. Flyers and we blew Defensive zone coverages on the 2nd and 3rd goals. These types of defensive zone breakdowns were not evident in Marlboro nor in any of the system practices so far. The boys are aware of the cause of the breakdowns and are committed to correcting these coverages this afternoon. Coach Walker and Coach Haviland have been impressed with the team’s work ethic and commitment to learning the details of our systems. The coaching staff has asked this year’s team (and specifically our veteran leadership group) to conform to a strict set of concepts and take on additional responsibility outside their comfort zone. This ’95 group is still getting used to Coach Walker’s gruff style and demand for accountability to each other – the coaching staff has no doubt our ’95s are on the right path of progression – we look for this elite group to contribute to our Bantam & Midget programs for years to come.

Your ’95s expect to close out the weekend with a solid home effort. We’ll then get back to school and practice as we prepare for next weekend’s busy schedule. Expect to see a motivated, gritty squad this afternoon.