DYHA 16U combo team exudes brotherhood, high-end talent
The Desert Youth Hockey Association’s (DYHA) 16U combo team had a successful 2015-16 season.
Need proof? The team won the AZYHL league and playoff championships, the 16U A state title and totaled four banners altogether, but the players and coaches took away more than wins from the season.
“The team totally bonded and played for each other,” 16U combo coach Sean Whyte said. “These guys believe in each other, as well as the program.”
“Our boys realized that they would achieve individual success by playing as a team,” added assistant coach Mike Goldberg. “We would ask the boys to play ‘our” game,’ and to abandon their individual goals for the betterment of the team.”
Entering the season, the 16U coaches had a goal for the team to make it to the state championship. Whyte was concerned about the new dynamic, but the players were one step ahead.
“I had seven returning players from last year and 10 new players,” explained Whyte. “It was a coin toss in the beginning of the year – we didn’t know who we were going to get – but from the first tournament in San Diego, this team bonded like I have never seen before. From the start, all of the families and players were all on the same page as the coaches.”
For the players, the season resulted in more than a strong team, but also lifelong friendships.
“It was a great experience,” forward Connor Bottrill said. “I had a lot of fun on and off the ice. I learned a lot about hockey and life from my coaches.”
“The special bond I have with each player and coach on the team will be remembered for a lifetime,” noted forward Michael Miscio. “I know that we will always be able to look back on this season and be very proud of all our hard work and dedication. Mostly, we’ll always be friends.”
Going into the state championships, Whyte, along with assistant coaches Charles Miscio and Goldberg, reminded their team to be confident and to remember how much they accomplished this season.
“The team played as a unit from start to finish – a wonderful team to be around,” Charles Miscio said. “They were not only attentive to their head coach, but they listened to the assistant coaches. They hung on every word.”
The 16U combo team brought their A-game, winning the state title over the Arizona High School Premier Team.
“They were all so dialed in and it was the best game of the season for three periods by all 17 players,” Whyte said. “This was the one game all year that counted, that every single player, including goalies, didn’t leave anything behind. They all had great attitudes that everyone was about teamwork and nothing else.”
The players all went into their final game with the same attitude.
“Wanting to play hard, playing as a team and dominating to end the season strong,” was the goal of forward Kole Goldberg. “I learned that if you can buy into what your coach says and if you bond as a team, anything is possible.”
Ending the season with a win resonated not only with the players, but all the coaches as well.
“Our goaltending was phenomenal and our lines all played like a team of brothers,” Miscio said. “Everyone knew where their brother was going to be on the ice.”
Goalie Dino Brunetti added: “This season was great from top to bottom, all the way from the way we played, down to the brotherhood between our players. We wanted to leave it all out there in our final game and really end on a good note.”
The team started the season with voids needing to be filled by new players and according to Whyte, all the players exceeded expectations.
“For what were able to accomplish and what we did speaks volumes for these guys, how they believed in something bigger than themselves,” Whyte said. “This team has been an absolute amazing experience for all of us.”
— Katy Wolpoff