I wanted to take some time to reflect after the early end to our season before I tired to collect my thoughts and articulate what this inaugural season in Danbury meant to me. I think that I am finally ready to try to talk about what coaching the Colonials this season meant to me and how much I appreciated the opportunity to work with so many great people. When I received the call on the bus on the afternoon of March 12, I feared the worst; that one of the most rewarding and enjoyable seasons that I have ever experienced was likely coming to an untimely end. I was unfortunately right. In the weeks since I have felt a ton of emotions, but the most prevalent amongst them has been pride. I am proud of the collective efforts of so many people who pitched in and made this unforgettable season possible. And extremely thankful.
My first thank you is directed toward our ownership and management group. Bill and Jim Diamond, Chris Buonanno, Herm Sorcher, Colton Orr and Boe Trumbull; your vision to bring junior hockey to Danbury was the impetus for this amazing experience. Our entire team appreciates that each of you gentlemen is committed to creating a player-centric junior hockey program that is committed to striving to be the best franchise in Tier III junior hockey. Your faith in us and support throughout the season is not taken for granted.
Thank you to Rob Sutherland and Nick Garofalo who served as our General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations respectively. Their tireless efforts to make sure that our players and staff were provided with everything that we needed to thrive did not go unnoticed. From securing our equipment and uniform needs to arranging billets and apartments to assisting in the coaching staff’s recruiting efforts to providing educational support to helping coordinate travel as well as being a steadfast resource for our entire organization, their fingerprints are all over this organization.
Keeping our players healthy and helping them get back on the ice as quickly as possible when they do sustain an injury is too often a thankless task. We definitely do not want to forget to thank Lee Day, Kayla MacInnis, Erin Koukopoulos, Dr Ciminiello and, from time to time, Amy Schneider, Paul Fernandes and Mark Allen. Thank you for your expertise, caring, professionalism and consistent efforts to help our players spend as much time on the ice doing what they love and continuing their development.
Thank you to Frank Camarda and Joe Stefanelli for their behind the scenes efforts to ensure that our equipment, laundry and locker room needs were always met. We appreciate you both staying late and coming in early to make sure that we get a chance to look good, feel good and play well.
Casey Bryant, Jack O’Marra and Zak McGinniss were invaluable resources to the Colonials as well. Your broadcasts were top-notch all season long. You each lent your talents to our website, press releases and social media presence, including our widely loved Valentine’s Day cards for each player. These, as well as our Facebook page maintained by Kelly Stein, are such important modes of promoting our program and players as well as engaging their families and other fans. Thank you!
To rest of the staff at Danbury Arena, most especially Kim McNamara and Dannon Haliskoe; you made the building a home away from home for our players and staff and helped create one of the best home ice advantages in the NA3HL. Thank you for your warmth, caring and undying support!
Our billet families and the staff at the Chestnut Ridge Apartments were incredibly welcoming and helped our players find a comfortable place to call home during their time in Danbury. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the Allens, Cappuzzos. Griffiths, Flemings and McCallums for opening their homes and their hearts to our players.
A huge thank you to assistant coach Brian Allen and goaltending coach Matt Voity. Matt, your work helping our goalies establish their fundamentals was key to their growth and enabled each of them to experience some memorable successes throughout the season. Coach Allen: where do I start? Thank you for truly your uncommon passion, to the end of the earth loyalty, easy to relate to demeanor, willingness to pitch in any way that you can, knowledge of the game and developing quality young men, and most importantly: your friendship. Few outside our locker room will ever know how much you meant to this team, but none of us in it will ever forget.
Our players’ families were tremendous all season! You came to games both at home and on the road. You followed us on HockeyTV and social media when you could not get to the rinks. You hosted us in your homes or paid for a special team meal on a road trip. You made sure a player injured on the road got to the hospital and had the support of a friendly face. You wore your Orange and Black everywhere. You supported not only your sons, but the whole squad. But maybe most importantly, you showed faith in a brand-new organization. You trusted us with your sons, their well-being and their development, both on and off the ice. Thank you for that trust!
And finally, our players…I cannot find the words to accurately express either my pride in you or my gratitude toward you. You guys took a leap of faith that the Danbury Colonials would provide you with an environment that would enable you to have a first-rate experience, push your development to new heights and ultimately help you progress as a player to be ready to take on new challenges as you continue to progress toward college hockey. You never gave up on me, Coach Allen, yourselves or each other. I believe that each of you grew individually as players and young men. Our team developed tremendously as well, thanks to your collective efforts. We were playing our best hockey down the stretch and I know that we all are certain that a deep playoff run was coming. I will never forget the energy, determination and commitment to each other that permeated our locker during the last six weeks of the season. Thank you all and I love you all. #ChooChoo