March 8, 2013

John Jay’s team spirit

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 9, the John Jay Indians will take to the ice against St. Lawrence. At 11:55 comes the introduction of the starting lineups, and at noon the National Anthem will begin. The Indians are 2013 New York State Ice Hockey Tournament semifinalists, and their play will determine whether they will head to the finals at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Their record is a remarkable 22-1-1 on the season.

“A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and the John Jay players believe they do not have a ‘weakest link,’” says The Record-Review sports editor Ken Kostik. “They believe that no matter who is on the ice, that that player will do the job to make the team succeed. That all goes back to the coaches making each member of the team feel important.”

Last weekend, riding three second-period goals, the Indians continued to find ways to win post-season hockey games, this time defeating Section 2’s Queensbury 4-2 on March 2 at the upstate Lake George Forum in a state Division 2 quarterfinal. This week’s challenger, number 10 St. Lawrence, earned their spot in the semis with a 3-1 win over Section 5’s Webster-Thomas.

“John Jay Ice Hockey is what it is thanks to all the moving parts,” said Susan Wight Bostwick this week. Ms. Bostwick is parent of hockey star Frazier Bostwick and one of the many moms and dads who are cheering the team on. “The sense of family is tremendous.”

Katonah’s Don Scott, who was on the school board when the district voted to fund the hockey program, which also gets contributions from parents and boosters, says he has been watching the team throughout the season. “They’ve got four or five really strong kids who are really dominant,” he said on Wednesday. He said that it’s “especially fun” to watch them defeat Pelham and Rye, traditional Westchester hockey powerhouses.

The Record-Review sportswriter Ken Kostik says that the current team began to develop four years ago when this year’s seniors first took the step up to varsity and helped the team win 15 games. Many all are multisport athletes — goalie Matt Lanza is a standout lacrosse defender, defenseman Anthony Scapperotti will play midfield for Cortland’s men’s lacrosse team in college, and forward and leading scorer Shawn Smith will play lacrosse at Michigan. Head coach Alex Smith was the team’s coach in the early 2000s before stepping down to watch his own children play. He returned when this group of seniors was in ninth grade.

Mr. Kostik, who has watched the Indians’ progress as closely as anyone, describes the Indians as “very tight off and on the ice. Late in games already sewn up, you will see Frazier Bostwick or Shawn Smith looking to set up third- and fourth-liners for goals.”

The Indians are noted for their “team-first mentality,” unique in some ways today where many players are “I or me oriented,” writes Mr. Kostik.

“What it comes down to is that this is a very special group of kids that have come together to have a special season. They put the team ahead of their own personal recognition and, with the talent set that Smith and Bostwick possess, that says something about their character. The coaches make each member of the team feel that they are as important a cog in the machine as the top players, and that makes the team even stronger.”

To that, add the support of students, faculty, family and the community. The enthusiasm of parents at games is strong, as well as all loyal fans and friends of the district’s athletic programs.

If the Indians can stay on top of St. Lawrence, they will head to the title game on Sunday. All three games will be played at the Memorial Auditorium in Utica.

We add our heartiest wishes for success from The Record-Review.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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