By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The St. Peter’s Prep hockey team experienced great success in the past season, including a chance to play at Yankee Stadium while the rink was laid down at the world’s most famous baseball park.
Several of the members of that team hail from the area, giving head coach Mike Goodrich reason to be proud of the performances of the local players.
“There are so many towns locally that you wouldn’t think of getting hockey players,” Goodrich said. “The hockey world is so different than any other. It’s nice to be able to give kids who play hockey a program that they could continue to play. Not only are they good players, but they’re good people as well.”
Goodrich said that the local players who are members of the Marauders’ roster have to be experienced and talented.
“To play at our level, they have to be already good players, because there are so many others who want to be part of our program,” Goodrich said. “We have 65 kids in our program (freshman and junior varsity teams as well). So to be on our varsity, you better be a good player, because we play at such a high level.”
Added Goodrich, “Hockey is a different sport than say football or soccer. It’s very hard to develop kids when they get to the ninth grade. It’s tough to advance them if they hadn’t been playing. We introduce them to a new line of training, so they have to get on the ice at an early age.”
The Marauders finished 2014 with an 11-9-3 record, facing some of the toughest teams in New Jersey.
“We remained in the top 10 in the state with one of the toughest schedules around,” Goodrich said.
Leading the way for the locals on the Marauders is senior Ryan Pezzolla from North Arlington.
“Ryan is a great kid,” Goodrich said. “He has great hands and a knack for scoring. He was a very good offensive player for us.”
Sam Burkhardt is another senior who hails from Lyndhurst.
“He had the knack of scoring very big goals for us, especially early in the season,” Goodrich said. “He’s a hard working kid who worked very hard last summer to get better and make an impact for us.”
J.T. Fearon is a junior from Kearny.
“Fearon is a big, physical kid who played a big role for us,” Goodrich said. “We needed him to be a physical presence on the ice. He was also strong on the defensive end.”
Robbie Fearon is another junior from Kearny.
“He’s a beast,” Goodrich said. “He’s a physically tough kid to play against. He comes hard all the time. We use him with different situations on defense and offense. He’s a great kid to have.”
Augie Burkhardt is a sophomore and the younger brother of Augie. He has an extremely bright future.
“There are some NCAA Division I schools that are already showing interest,” Goodrich said. “Schools like Yale and Union are already looking at him. He’s a legitimate player. He’s going to play at the next level. He has a lot of potential.”
Freshman Mike Zdanowicz is another player with a bright future. Zdanowicz is from Lyndhurst, like the Burkhardt brothers.
“Mike is a good, up-andcoming player,” Goodrich said. “I like his potential.”
All of the locals began their hockey development playing street hockey and then getting to play with various ice hockey travel programs.
“We graduate eight seniors,” Goodrich said. “We have a great freshman class and another group of good players coming in. Our program is really starting to build and we’re starting to get some recognition.”
Goodrich applauds the efforts of the local players to become part of the Prep program.
“I think the location of St. Peter’s in Jersey City is convenient to those players,” Goodrich said. “It’s a good academic institution with a quality hockey program. The kids want to challenge themselves and play the best competition in the state. I think we were lucky to get these kids. They are all good kids and quality individuals.”
And the locals give the Prep hockey program a lot of hope and promise for the future.