Last year’s 2018-19 season was one to remember for the Bears. Not only did the boys varsity hockey team capture its first Section X championship in 11 years, they also went on to participate in the NYSPHSAA Division I Hockey Final 4. But it wasn’t just the winning that felt different. The whole culture surrounding Canton hockey seemed to change. With a new coaching staff as well as a strong senior leadership, the team was making an impact in the community as well as on the ice. Even though that senior class has moved on, not much has changed.
A new group of strong leaders has emerged, and the Bears are looking to pick up right where they left off. Juniors Dustin Dodd and Trey Bessette and seniors Nick James and Zack Frank have been named captains for the Bears this year. Last year’s success leaves big shoes to fill for the 2019-20 team, but they aren’t going to look back on what or who they lost.
There has been lots of talk about who the Bears lost, but the team isn’t looking into it too much. Sophomore forward Daniel Mahoney said, “Obviously we had a great senior group last year, but losing players to graduation isn’t something we can dwell on.We are focusing on us and what we can control.”
Head coach Anthony Levato has liked what he’s seen from his team so far, saying, “The work ethic of this group has been tremendous. This team has the traits of a veteran based team.”
When addressing the comments on the loss of players, Levato said, “The offseason and preseason has produced some outside noise. After last year and losing some key pieces everyone wants to tell you how you’re going to be. This group is focused and ready to write their own chapter. They will let their play do the talking.”
So in the weeks leading up to their first game this Friday, the Bears were focused on one thing: themselves. Through the first week of conditioning all the way up until now, the Bears are blocking out the outside noise and focusing on the culture and preparation that led to so much success on and off the ice last year.
This week all four captains from last year, Jack Finnerty, John Mahoney, Antonio Vecchio and Sam Martin, came to practice to share some knowledge from their time in the brown and gold. Their message was clear: enjoy every practice and show up every day ready to give it your all because in the end it is worth it.
The Bears take on Hilton this Friday at 5:45 p.m. in the Potsdam Tournament and they will be looking to carry on their success from last year while also leaning on the hard work and preparation they have put in in the weeks leading up to game one.