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Rome Grizzlies Peewee’s Crowned Champions in Western Massachusetts 

Credit: Pete Pagliaro

The Rome Grizzlies (Peewee) were crowned champions of the 2024 Western Mass Meltdown Hockey Tournament. The Grizzlies competed in a weekend-long tournament finishing 5-0 with victories over Simsbury and the Connecticut Capitals. 

Game #1

The tournament began for the Rome Grizzlies with an early Friday morning start facing off against the Connecticut Capitals in game one at Smead Arena. Both teams were anxious to get the tournament underway and it was Connecticut who applied the early pressure after Rome was assessed a penalty for checking but the script quickly flipped when Connecticut was called for a tripping penalty. The Grizzlies attacked the Connecticut defense on the powerplay as James Ferguson and Wyatt Mumford both peppered shots at the Connecticut goalie Norra Vazquez. Logan Loucks just missed scoring the first goal of the game when his slap shot barely soared over the crossbar. Rome defenseman Hunter Streiff came barrelling into the offensive zone and rifled a shot toward the Capitals goalie who came up with the big save.  However, it was Mason Carnevale, assisted by Landon Russell,  who would be the first to find the back of the net for Rome after he sniped a shot over the goaltender’s right shoulder with 2:48 remaining in the period to give Rome a 1-0 edge. Rome goaltender Drew Baldyga kept the Capitals off the scoreboard after they cannoned a shot his way with just 8.5 seconds remaining in the period.

The New Jersey Devils’ organizational goaltending situation

The Grizzlies wasted no time getting back in the scoring column as the next period got underway when Tino Bouton needed just 46 seconds to score to give Rome the 2-0 lead. A mix of players including Peyton Gallup, Wyatt Mumford, Logan Loucks, and Dante Nicol would give the Grizzlies several opportunities to extend its lead with big scoring chances but were held at bay by the Connecticut goaltender. James Ferguson, however, would intercept an ill-fated pass and deposited a shot top shelf to give Rome a decisive 3-0 advantage and an eventual win. Rome goalie Paulie Mullin did his part in maintaining the shutout after saving a hearty shot off the stick of Avery Grubin.

Game #2

The second game of the evening was an offensive clinic for the Grizzlies with Wyatt Mumford starting things off with a goal after he was granted a not-often-seen penalty shot in youth hockey and then followed it with a second goal at the 12:16 mark of the period with Dante Nicol and Calvin Gray assisting. Rome’s Paulie Mullin kept Simsbury scoreless after saving two attempts from Landon Cook and then Preston McCabe. Mason Carnevale then got in on the scoring for Rome at 6:15 in the period and was assisted by Gio Pagliaro and Landon Russell to put Rome ahead 3-0. Mullin again came up big for Rome saving a shot fired into his chest from William Katz to keep Simsbury scoreless. Tino Bouton and James Ferguson then set up Liam Ramer who found the puck in front of the crease and shoved it past the Simsbury goaltender to give Rome a commanding 4-0 lead.

Simsbury responded in the next period with two quick goals that were just 27 seconds apart scored by William Katz with assists from Ryan Laing, and Rory Harrington, and two from Seamus Harrington to make it 4-2. Rome returned the favor late in the game when Dante Nicol scooped up the rebound from Calvin Gray’s shot which was also assisted by Wyatt Mumford to extend the Rome lead to 5-2.

Dante Nicol (#9) and Logan Loucks (#18) of the Rome Grizzlies. Photo credit: Pete Pagliaro.

Rome continued to knock on the goaltender’s door with scoring chances from Tino Bouton, James Ferguson, Liam Ramer, and Logan Loucks but it would be Mason Carnevale who would light the lamp for the second time with Logan Loucks earning the assist. Simsbury, however, would not go away easily and would score again off the stick of Seamus Harrington and would be assisted by Preston McCabe and Charlie Hanna.

Not to be outdone the Grizzlies would protect its lead and add two more goals from Wyatt Mumford and Mason Carnevale who would both complete their respective hat tricks. Mumford was assisted on the goal by Calvin Gray and Dante Nicol while Carnevale would get assists from teammates Landon Russell and Gio Pagliaro. The scoring would subside with another Simsbury goal from Seamus Harrington with assists from Hunter Legere and Ryan Laing and then Rome’s Calvin Gray would score as time expired with assists going to Dante Nicol and Wyatt Mumford and a final score of 9-4.

Game #3

The second day of the tournament saw much of the same success for Rome as they once again remained unbeaten on the day. First up it would be Simsbury who were able to jump ahead first after a goal from Landon Cook assisted by Jaxon Kelley. Rome would score after Dante Nicol received a pass from Calvin Gray to knot things up 1-1 at the break.

Following the intermission, Rome tacked on two goals, one from Calvin Gray, assisted by Wyatt Mumford, and another from defenseman Cameron Sallisky as he muscled a shot past the Simsbury goaltender. Simsbury would cut into the 3-1 lead after Preston McCabe and Bradley Rada set up Seamus Harrington to cut the Rome lead to 3-2. The Grizzlies would again respond when Tino Bouton and Liam Ramer would feed James Ferguson who would put the game away and leave Rome unbeaten in three games played. 

Game #4

The nightcap would match up the Grizzlies against Connecticut whom Rome would dispose of by a final score of 4-2. Rome took an early 2-0 lead after goals from James Ferguson and Wyatt Mumford with Hunter Streiff and Gio Pagliaro assisting on the goals. The Capitals cut into the lead after Connor DiRamio scored from Hadleigh Zavisza but James Ferguson was just getting warmed up and scored the next two goals with Tino Bouton and Liam Ramer assisting, giving Rome a 4-1 advantage.  Connecticut was able to squeeze out one more goal from Connor DiRamio before the buzzer sounded and Rome punched its ticket into the next day’s championship game. 

Game #5

The championship game on Sunday featured Rome against Simsbury with both teams chomping at the bit to take home the hardware. Simsbury would get off the first shot of the game against Paulie Mullin who would kick and save it away. Rome had its first scoring opportunity from Wyatt Mumford turned away at 13:52 by the Simsbury goaltender and Simsbury followed suit when Rome goalie Paulie Mullin denied Seamus Harrington. Rome, however, would strike first at 11:34 when Calvin Gray found himself in front of the net as a flurry of activity unfolded and was able to come out with the puck on his stick and into the back of the net to put Rome ahead 1-0.

A little over a minute later Rome would strike again as Peyton Gallup jumped in on the scoring extending the Rome lead to 2-0. Simsbury would then catch a break as a shot from Jaxson Kelley took a slow and casual roll finding its way past the goal line to narrow the gap to 2-1.

Peyton Gallup of the Rome Grizzlies. Photo credit: Pete Pagliaro.

The first penalty of the game was called with 5:15 remaining in the first on Simsbury’s Jaxson Kelley for roughing, giving Rome its first powerplay opportunity. It would not take long for Rome to capitalize as Wyatt Mumford scored to put Rome ahead 3-1. The period would come to a close with another Simsbury penalty, this time on Seamus Harrington for checking with just 37.5 seconds left in the period.

Both teams came into the next period with scoring opportunities as Rome’s James Ferguson was denied by the Simsbury goalie with a big glove save and then less than a minute later Simsbury’s Rory Harrington would send one off the crossbar followed by a sprawling butterfly save by Rome netminder Drew Baldyga. Rome again went on the powerplay with 11:30 remaining on a tripping call but were unable to take advantage, however, Simsbury did, as Hunter Legere scored as time ran out on the Rome powerplay as his teammate was released from the penalty box. With the lead cut to one, both teams skated for nearly four minutes with Simsbury searching for the tying goal as Rome searched for a goal that would get them closer to hoisting the trophy.

With 5:39 remaining in the game it would be Rome who would respond in a big way when Logan Loucks would weave a backdoor pass to Landon Russell who scored to give Rome a 4-2 lead and then just 30 seconds later Tino Bouton would put the nail in the coffin as he scorched one past the Simsbury goalie to give Rome a 5-2 advantage. When the clock struck zero the sticks and gloves were tossed in the air and it was the Rome Grizzlies who would hold the crown of 2024 Western Mass Meltdown Champions. The message to the boys prior to the game from Rome Grizzlies Assistant Coach Gary Bartell was simple – “today is your day boys”. Yes, it was.

Rome Grizzlies Roster

13 – Calvin Gray

86 – Cameron Sallisky

9 – Dante Nicol

27 – Drew Baldyga

2 – Giovanni Pagliaro

68 – Grant White

99 – Hunter Streiff

6 – James Ferguson

21- Landon Russell

10 – Liam Ramer

18 – Logan Loucks

3 – Mason Carnevale

51 – Paulie Mullin

17 – Peyton Gallup

7 – Tino Bouton

96 – Wyatt Mumford

22 – Xavier Twomey

Head Coach – Jason Combs

Assistant – Gary Bartell

Assistant – Jeff Mullin

Assistant – Tim Twomey

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