Hockey Captains Keep Garnets at Top of Conference

It’s plain to see that Rye’s ice hockey team is a youthful one, with just three seniors on the 22-man roster. Rye’s is also a program with rich history and recent success, having posted a 46-28-6 record over the last three seasons, with trips to the Section final all three years.

The combination of weighty expectations and vast inexperience equals pressure that could easily crush a player – even a senior captain. Fortunately for the Garnets, that isn’t the case when it comes to Taka Katsuta and Paul Mundinger.

“It pumps me up,” said Mundinger of carrying Rye’s winning torch. “I feed off of that. I don’t feel the weight on my shoulders, because there is a lot of talent on this team – especially offensively.”

Taka Katsuta

Mundinger and Katsuta, Rye’s explosive forwards, have propelled the Garnets to a 5-3 overall record and the top of the Section 1 Conference III standings. The dynamic duo, who happen to be best friends, have combined for 21 of Rye’s 33 goals and 18 of the team’s assists. Katsuta sparked a five-game winning streak by netting consecutive hat tricks in victories against Queensbury and Mount Pleasant, and Mundinger followed suit in the next two games. He scored three in a 7-1 rout at Somers/North Salem, and then scorched rival John Jay for five in a 6-2 win at home.

“They’ve been doing a great job leading this team,” said head coach Jason Friesen. “You can see that on the ice in the points they put up, but they also deserve credit for leadership off the rink.”

Aaron Rix

Rye’s captains and incendiary offense are certainly at the vanguard of the team’s hot start, but the Garnets’ winning ways go beyond just two athletes’ contributions. Friesen noted the constant improvement of junior goaltender Aaron Rix, who is third in all of Section 1 with 236 saves. And, despite all the rubber thrown at him, his 90.76 save percentage ranks sixth overall.

Nick Rosenfield, a three-year starter, is another star. The junior is fourth on the team in points with seven, and has spread out his six goals over four of Rye’s games. Brian Powers – the only other senior on the roster – is a defender with a knack for the timely pass. He has six assists to go along with two goals. Friesen also praised the play of junior forwards Matt Moran and Robert Holmes, as well as sophomore forward Ryan Rogers. Rogers is one of 12 sophomores and freshmen on the Garnets.

Ryan Rogers

“We have the opportunity to be a good hockey team year in and year out,” said Friesen. “The program reaches all the way down to the seventh and eighth grade with players who are brought along properly. I’ve seen it for as long as I’ve been here.”

Scoring hasn’t been a problem for the Garnets, so Friesen has been able to turn his attention to the young and relatively inexperienced defense.

Robert Holmes

“Things are beginning to look really good,” said Friesen. “It’s just a matter of getting there and doing what we worked on. We’re young, but there is a lot of potential for growth. As the season progresses we’re only going to get more confident and better.”

Both Mundinger and Friesen feel Rye can make the leap from a good to great team by playing complete 45-minute games. The Garnets have been slow starters in the early season, and while they have the talent to overcome deficits against less-talented teams, falling behind has – and will continue to – cost them against the elite: RHS dropped 4-2 and 5-2 decisions respectively to Queensbury and Mamaroneck.

Nevertheless, the Garnets are feeling good as they head into the heart of the schedule. Rye plays at home January 10 against Fordham Prep, and then January 13 versus Somers/North Salem. After that they’ll play on January 16 and 17 at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon against upstate powers Cortland-Homer and Whitesboro.

The Garnets celebrate a goal against Mamaroneck

“After a nice long layoff everyone is excited to get back on the ice,” said Mundinger. “And having the home crowd behind us will definitely pump us up. Sometimes they get there a little late, but there are a ton of them and it is awesome.”

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One Response to “Hockey Captains Keep Garnets at Top of Conference”

  1. Kek Says:

    Great Piece ..

    These guys have to be thrilled with their present rank in the League.
    They need to stick with their strategy…

    Best Of Luck ….

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