The 2003 Secaucus Mayor's Cup Tournament was played two weekends ago at the Buchmiller Park Skating Rink and once again, the Secaucus Recreation Department and the staff at the skating rink rolled out the red carpet to welcome teams and fans from all over the country and Canada.
In the end, Malvern Prep, the No. 1-ranked high school team in Pennsylvania, walked away with the Mayor's Cup as the undefeated champion, winning all three of its games. Malvern Prep defeated St. John Vianney of New Jersey, the 2002 champion, by a score of 4 to 3 in overtime in the title game.
Without question, this year's tournament was the most competitive, had the best talent and the closest games.
"I would have to say it was our best tournament in all the years we've had it in Secaucus," Tournament Director Cory Robinson said. "Most of the games were very close, with the championship game going to overtime. I think we were able to put on not only the best hockey tournament in New Jersey, but probably the entire Atlantic region."
Hudson Catholic of Jersey City was the only local team to participate in the tournament. Perennial state powers Brick Township, the defending NJSIAA Public Schools champion, and St. John Vianney also represented New Jersey. Brick finished third in the tournament.
The rest of the field included New York state semifinalist Monsignor Farrell of Staten Island; DeMatha Catholic of Washington, D.C.; LaSalle High School from Philadelphia, and Loyola High School of Montreal, Canada.
While the local teams traveled to and from the games, many people utilized Secaucus' fine hotels, restaurants and shopping centers.
"It's just a positive thing for our community, to have people from all over the country come to Secaucus and see what we have to offer," Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell said. "It's always positive any time we can promote our community."
Veteran Brick hockey Coach Bob Auriemma, the granddaddy of all New Jersey high school hockey coaches with 38 years of coaching experience, praised the tournament. It marked the third straight year that Brick participated in the tourney, having won the title in 2001.
"It's a well-run tournament and a credit to high school hockey," Auriemma said. "Secaucus should be very proud. You see some quality teams of skill and of character here, which is important."
The sportsmanship is what impressed Elwell the most. "I watched a lot of the games and I was pleasantly surprised with the discipline and the wonderful sportsmanship that all of the teams displayed," Elwell said. "Hockey has a reputation of being such a violent sport, but these teams played very hard, but very disciplined. It was really good to see."
Elwell praised the efforts of Robinson and Recreation Director Bob Fantozzi.
"I'm very proud of their work," Elwell said. "Cory, Bob and the entire staff did a tremendous job. Their hard efforts showed in the way the tournament turned out."
Robinson credited the support he received from Elwell, Councilman Fred Constantino (the recreation liaison) and the remainder of the council.
"They give us a lot of support and are behind us 100 percent," Robinson said. "It's a great way to bring attention to Secaucus. They know that it's good for the community and they're already looking forward to next year."
The championship of the consolation round is called the Constantino Cup in honor of the councilman. Hudson Catholic captured that trophy this year.
Robinson said that he has already received at least 25 requests from teams who want to participate in the 2004 Mayor's Cup.
"I already received a call from a team in Nova Scotia that wants to play," Robinson said. "A team from Sweden has also inquired to see if the tournament can fit into their travel plans. Maybe we can open the tournament by two spots and see what interest it brings. But we're all definitely looking forward to next year already."
Robinson said that the tournament can only go to help the fledgling Secaucus Recreation youth hockey program, which is growing in size and stature after only a few years of operation.
"I love to see the little kids of the program come to these games and treat the high school players like they're pros, asking for their sticks and autographs," Robinson said. "That's what it's all about." CAPTIONS