St. Joseph boys hockey playing for Coach LeMaire, more respect

Liam Gelston is one of St. Joseph's top defensemen.

Liam Gelston is one of St. Joseph's top defensemen.


St. Joseph boy’s hockey coach Chris Nelson had a sit down with his team prior to the season.

“We talked about how we are tired of the losing seasons and having the title of underdog,” Nelson said. “We want to lose that reputation. To do that we are going to show up every day ready to play like a Division I high school team because that is what we are. We want to get respect back. To do that everyone has to be willing to put that out there for the good of the team. For the first game they did that.”

For Nelson, it was his first varsity win in his first game coaching since taking over for Eddy LeMaire, who died on July 11 at age 53 reportedly of a heart attack.

“We dedicated that game to Eddy Lamair, a good friend of mine. All the kids came out wanting to win the game for Coach Eddy,” Nelson said. “We have four captains this year - Wyatt Chrisman A.J. Gerace, Kyle Marcinko and Liam Gelston. I put together this leadership group during the summer when we lost Coach Eddy to help captain the team through this tough time.”

St. Joseph defeated No. 8 ranked Notre Dame-Fairfield 8-1 at the Shelton Sports Center in its opener. It was the Cadets first victory over a Division I opponent since it topped SGWL 4-0 on Feb. 14, 2018.

Andrew Eisenman’s unassisted goal at the 10:23 mark tied the game at 1-all in the first and St. Joe’s dominated the scoresheet the rest of the game to hand first-year head coach Chris Nelson the win.

Chrisman scored three goals in the third period. Johnny Karafa, assisted by Gelston, gave St. Joe’s a 2-1 lead after one. John McNabola, Marcinko and Joey Bisson had second-period goals.

Tyler Stiewing made 33 saves. Trevor Kellogg had three assists. Gelston and Karafa each had two assists. Chrisman and Gerace had assists.

Nelson said his Cadets are grateful for the opportunity despite a shortened preseason.

“The challenge early is that we didn’t have as much time with kids to get in a rhythm,” he said. “Usually there are more preseason games, and you get to practice playing more of a structured game, which is what we need to do. But t was good to see faces back in the rink, if only you could see half of them (masks),” he said. “It was good to get them back out on the ice. We have 26 in program with eight seniors. It is a good mix with talented younger kids.”

Chrisman, McNabola and Karafa are first-line players.

Nelson said: “For the second line we split the talent up with A.J. Gerace, Andrew Tata and Jon Vitka. On defense we have Liam Gelston, Mark Husted-Edwards, Marcinko, Matt Morales, who is an alternate captain, and Trevor Kellogg.

“Tyler Stiewing is in goal. He has gotten so much faster with his recovery. His positioning has always been sound, but his ability to battle after making first saves has really improved.”

St Joe’s lost 4-1 to Fairfield/Warde/Ludlowe at the Rinks in Shelton on Saturday. Tata scored the lone goal late in the second period with Fairfield leading 3-0. Gelston and Gerace had assists.

Nelson said: “The specific challenge is our depth. We don’t have as many players to put out on a given night, like a Darien that can roll out four lines at you. Conditioning is a big thing with lesser numbers than some teams we play on a nightly basis.

“It is nothing we can’t overcome. The kids are playing with a lot of heart. They are playing at a faster pace. They are playing a much grittier style of hockey.” Twitter: @blox354