13 in 13: Lockport Express
September 2, 2015
The 13 in 13 series will feature an in-depth look into all 13 teams in the NA3EHL for the 2015-16 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Friday, September 11th as eight teams take to the ice on Opening Night.13 in 13 goes in-depth into each NA3EHL team and will include interviews with all 13 head coaches in the NA3EHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2015-16 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2014-15 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 13 in 13 will provide the fans of the NA3EHL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2014-15 Record: 24-14-3, 51 pts. (2nd in the Western Division)
2015 Playoffs: Lost to Wilkes-Barre in the Western Division Semi-Finals, 2-1
Head Coach: Frank Vecchio
2015-16 Division: West
Last season was a memorable one for the Lockport Express for many reasons. On the ice, the team was a success, finishing 2nd in the Western Division and making the playoffs. The team was also honored as the NA3EHL’s Organization of the Year. Led by NA3EHL General Manager of the Year Frank Vecchio, the Express had a great season. In addition to the on-ice success, the Express were a staple in their community, which included such events as a holiday food drive, hosting Santa for the kids at a home game, a charity hockey game involving local policemen and firefighters, post-game skates with fans and kids, development and growth of their youth hockey program and finally the opening and ceremonies surrounding their new state-of-the-art arena.
“Being a first year team, I felt we exceeded expectations in all aspects. We were competitive in every game and made the playoffs, so there was a lot to feel good about,” said Vecchio. “We were able to host one of the NA3EHL Showcases and get home ice for the first round of the playoffs, so I think that really excited our community and fan base. Winning an award like the Organization of the Year was a tremendous honor and huge plus.”
Vecchio said that the community support and their new state-of-art arena goes a long way in their status within the junior hockey community. “Both are huge for us… we led the league in attendance and make it a point to do as much as we can from a community service standpoint,” said Vecchio. “It builds character in our players and it is essential in the development process.”
Coming off a playoff season in which they won 24 games, the Express return 8 players from last year’s squad and are likely be considered one of the favorites to start the season. Those returners include Frank’s son Frank Vecchio II, along with other forwards Chris Gasiewsicz, Jordan Pocobello, Mark Friol, Ryan Logar and Justin Durkee, along with defensemen Gibson Stuart and Austin Kasperek.
“I think the biggest need for us in the off-season and throughout the summer knowing who we had coming back was finding defensemen who can play at the junior level,” said Vecchio. “I think we are going to have good goaltending and be deep at forward, but the challenge is along the blueline to start the season.”
As for this season, Vecchio believes that the challenge of the teams in the West Division will be as strong as ever. “I expect Jersey Shore to be good again, despite the turnover in their roster, but I think we can finish in the top three in the standings, but we want to make the playoffs and would like to host at least and round and hopefully take things a step further.”
Next up in the 13 in 13 series: Maine Wild