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Aurora -- It was a season of learning and improving for the members of the Aurora High School ice hockey team.
"They're extremely hard workers, and they're coachable," coach John Sheridan said.
"This group is refreshing. The players are committed. The season was over for two days, and there were 12 of our players playing hockey on an outdoor pond. The young players are really into it. That's what gives our coaches such encouragement."
Despite a 1-19 record, there was definite improvement from the beginning of the season until the end, Sheridan said.
"To see them in November, then to see the way they played at the end of the season, there was such a big difference," Sheridan said.
Sheridan said the top forwards for the Greenmen were Brandt Vermillion, Nick Capretta and Kelly Sheridan, the coach's daughter.
Vermillion, a junior center, was Aurora's best overall player, the coach said.
"He was our most experienced player," Sheridan said. "We made him a captain. He tried to help out the younger players."
Freshman Capretta was so talented that he played about 3/4 of each game, Sheridan said.
In a 7-1 late-season loss to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Vermillion's goal avoided a shutout, and an assist came from Capretta.
Kelly Sheridan, a senior left winger, broke her left wrist and missed the final four games of the season.
"She was just starting to turn the corner and get a little stronger, smarter and better," her father said. "The injury was frustrating, but she handled it well. She was a solid player."
Sophomore forward Matt Vince improved and saw a lot of ice time, his coach said.
OTHER SENIORS included defensemen Alex Avalon and Kenny Pope, and forward Joel Stell.
"Alex had good game awareness. He's a good athlete," Sheridan said. "Kenny improved by leaps and bounds. He had one of the harder shots in our league. Joel was a hard worker and was very coachable."
The Greenmen brought in two new goaltenders this season. Junior Matt Taft played in the majority of games, while sophomore Kevin Hutchinson played the last several games.
"When you're a goalie who is inexperienced and you've got a lot of inexperience in front of you, it's a challenge, needless to say," Sheridan said. "I could see improvement in both of them.
"For Matt to have never really played hockey at all, his improvement throughout the year was really good," Sheridan said. "He's a hard worker who we threw into the fire."
In Aurora's 10-0 loss to Hudson in the opening round of the Kent Division I district tournament Feb. 12 at the Kent State University Ice Arena, Hutchinson finished with 48 saves.
"That was the third game Kevin played in his life," Sheridan said. "We saw him get better as the game went on. Kevin could be a pretty good goalie in the future. He's got a great attitude."
In addition to Kelly Sheridan, Aurora had two other females -- junior forward Emily Boysza and freshman forward Sakurako Reed.
Other players included defensemen Colin Kearney, a freshman; Oliver Ketonen, a sophomore; Dominic Sharrotta, a freshman; and freshman forwards Corey Pajek and Patrick Windsor.
"We really expect the ninth-graders to step it up over the summer," Sheridan said.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC