Aurora -- Hard work and dedication were words that described the Greenmen hockey team this season.
"When you have a team that has a limited roster and you're playing a tough schedule, everyone must step up to the plate," coach John Sheridan said. "Our work ethic and character were excellent. This was a very hard working group of players, game in and game out. What is tough is when you only win a handful of games."
The Greenmen icers picked up their fifth victory in the regular season finale by defeating Brush 9-3 on Feb. 2.
The team finished at 5-20-1 following a Feb. 14 6-1 loss to North Canton Hoover in the district tournament at the Kent State University Ice Arena.
"We had good leadership and a handful of experienced core players," Sheridan said. "We had good goaltending [senior Rachael Schwartz] and three experienced defensemen [seniors Steve Lawrie, Colin MacDonald and Canton McElwee]."
Sheridan said those players were as good as most teams' higher level players, "but they were forced to log a great deal of ice time that led to them running out of gas later in games.
"We try to encourage our players to challenge the better teams and play more disciplined and smarter hockey, understanding our limitations as the underdog team and sticking to our game plan."
The team's leading scorer was sophomore forward Mike Ambrose, who finished the season with 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points.
Other top scorers included Lawrie with 18 points, McElwee with 16 points, sophomore forward/defenseman Brandt Vermillion with 17 points, freshman forward/defenseman Nathanial Schwartz with 14 points and senior defenseman Colin MacDonald with 13 points.
NATHANIEL Schwartz is Rachael's brother.
According to Sheridan, other top players include junior forward Kenny Pope, "who made great improvement for a player who just started playing last year," freshman forward Oliver Ketonen, "a first-year player who improved week by week," freshman forward Matt Vince, "a first-year player who has great desire to learn this great sport," freshman forward Sean Pennock, "a beginner player who improved and is learning," and junior forward Kelly Sheridan, the coach's daughter who played her first year of boys hockey after participating the last few seasons on girls teams where checking is not allowed.
"She adapted well to contact," the coach said. "She will be a key player next season with hard work."
The coach said the most enjoyable thing for him this season was "appreciating the great effort of our seniors, game in and game out, and the progress of our young players, many of whom had little experience.
"We have some good young players coming back. But we have to develop new goaltending and work with our young players and our beginners over the off-season to get them ready by November.
"We are beginning the rebuilding process with this program, and our returning players have to be involved in helping the new players as well as the beginners in developing their skills."
In the Feb. 2 victory over Brush, the nine goals Aurora scored was its second largest offensive showing of the season. Ambrose had two goals and two assists.
In a five-goal second period, Vermillion and Kelly Sheridan each had two goals and one assist. Lawrie had a 4-point night with a goal and three assists. MacDonald tallied a goal and two assists, while Nathanial Schwartz added a goal and an assist, and Rachael Schwartz excelled in goal.
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