By KEVIN DEVLIN and KATHY LAFFERTY
On Thursday evening, Feb. 4, at the Boston Beer Garden on East Broadway, the South Boston Youth Hockey League (SBYHL) held the second annual Teddy Cunniff Scholarship Award dinner, to congratulate the nominees as well as the scholarship recipient, who was Aidan Fitzgerald. The scholarship seeks to honor players who demonstrate a sense a community, dedication, integrity, humility, and character.
Teddy Cunniff embraces these traits epitomized in the league’s mission statement which is “committed to building future leaders of the City by providing high-quality ice hockey programs for the young people of South Boston and surrounding communities…while developing lifelong skills of goal setting, commitment, self-discipline, determination, teamwork and sportsmanship while supporting academic success…”
Teddy Cunniff spoke briefly before the players were recognized.
“It’s an honor to have my name associated with these young athletes,” he said. “They represent South Boston and what this league stands truly for all the time.
“I would like to thank the coaches for their hard work and the Boston Beer Garden for their support and hospitality,” he added. “I would also like to acknowledge Mike and Brian Carthas who represent the local men’s hockey league that supports this endeavor. And finally I would like to single out and thank Kathy Lafferty who spends so much time and effort in organizing this event.”
The players recognized are as follows and as described by their coaches:
Mike Kenneally, 14, has been playing in the SBYHL for eight years. He plays defense on the Bantam “A” Team. He’s an outstanding teammate. He rarely misses a practice or a game. He’s easy to coach, constantly encourages his teammates, heeds advice and responds to what he is told by his coaches. Mike’s an unselfish player, a hard worker and gets better every time he plays.
John Orton, 14, has been playing in the SBYHL since he was a Mite. He’s a defenseman for the Bantam “A” team. He’s reliable, sticks up for his teammates, supports his coaches and loves the game. He works hard, has developed into a solid hockey player who plays clean and within the rules. John’s just a great kid who participates in community and league events such as the Veteran’s Day event; a role model for younger players.
Niall Ryan, 12, plays left wing on the Pee Wee “A” team. He’s all about the team and not the individual. He always puts the team first. He’s a great passer, does what’s necessary to win, loves to be complimented and can handle criticism. He works hard and always gives his best on the ice. Niall’s a great teammate, a solid presence on the ice and a positive presence in the locker room.
Cormac Lafferty, 12, plays right wing on the Pee Wee “A” team and has been playing in the SBYHL since he was six. He does a lot of the little things that make the team function well. He supports his teammates on and off the ice. He’s accountable and always gives maximum effort. He’s dedicated to his team and always present for practices, skills clinics and games. He’s humble, quiet, and good-natured. He’s fun to be around, can lighten the mood but knows when to focus. Cormac’s respected among the other players and is a polite youngster.
Evan Markos, 11, plays center for the Pee Wee “B” team and has been playing in the SBYHL South Boston Youth Hockey since he was four years old. Evan fully comprehends what it takes to win at a team sport. He always gives his best effort and works hard to help his team win games and to improve as an individual player. Evan has a passion for hockey, is smart, and a role model for other players, especially to his three younger brothers.
Michael Noonan, 11, plays defense and wing for the Pee Wee “B” team and has been playing in the SBYHL since he was five. He plays exceptionally well and will do whatever his team needs. He’s the voice of reason in the locker room, a calm and reasonable influence. Mike’s confident but humble, a mature and respected player among his teammates. And, he’s easy to coach.
Caspar Touloukian, 11, plays defense on the Pee Wee “C” team and has been playing in the SBYHL since he was six. He has a true passion for the game of hockey. He brings leadership, supports his teammates by offering positive feedback and always works hard on the ice. He’s confident and committed to being the best defenseman he can be. Casper listens to his coach’s instructions and is always willing to take on any challenge with a positive attitude.
Aidan Fitzgerald, 11, plays goalie on the Pee Wee “C” team and has been playing in the SBYHL for six years. He’s a respected member of the team, plays hard, and encourages his teammates especially when the game isn’t going well. He’s dedicated to training his hardest and goes above and beyond which is what separates Aidan him from most other players his age. He’s a leader on and off the ice and simply loves hockey.
Mae Lafferty, 10, plays defense on the Squirt “A” squad. She gives 110 percent effort all the time. She’s earned “captain” numerous times over the past few years because of how hard she works. She leads by example and is well liked players and coaches. She never misses a game and has even played sick. Mae’s always at the rink, a true rink rat who plays hard but always with a smile on her face.
James McFarland, 8, plays both forward and defense on the Mite “A” team. He’s a leader on the team and likes to get an “assist” just as much as he enjoys scoring a goal. He works hard and is always ready to learn. He wears his Southie jersey with pride. He’s a dedicated player who plays the game with integrity. James is a gentleman and a great example of what a South Boston athlete should be.
Benjamin Dearden, 8, plays both forward and defense on the Mite “A” team. He always gives 100% effort at practice and games. He’s a true leader, always does what is best for the team and loves playing Southie hockey. Ben is a rule follower – he plays hard and clean hockey. He’s a competitor but is not a sore sport. He is a great kid and teammate. Ben wants to make his family proud and represents South Boston hockey with pride.
Trace McFarland, 6, plays on the Mite “B” team. He clearly understands what it means to be part of a team. He passes the puck and offers to play defense and goalie whenever he’s needed. He never misses a practice and shows up ready to work hard. He skates hard and plays both ways – which is not common at the Mite level. He listens and learns and is a pleasure to coach. Trace is respectful, shows a lot of self-control and is very mature for his age.
Michael Greene, 7, plays on the Mite “B” team. There isn’t a better kid that epitomizes team work. He passes the puck more that he takes shots. He plays defense and goalie whenever he is asked. He attends all games, practices and skills sessions and plays with passion. He’s always ready to learn, compete, and gives his best effort all the time. He’s a great kid to coach who always has a smile on his face and has fun. Michael always congratulates his teammates when they score or make a good play.
Bobby Banks, 10, plays defense on the Squirt “B” team. He’s always ready to hit the ice whether it’s for practice, skills clinics or a game. He’s easy to coach, listens and learns quickly. He’s a great kid, polite and always has a positive comment for his teammates. Bobby’s a smart hockey player and gets better every day.
The SBYHL coaches, who all deserve recognition for their dedication to the youngsters, are: Brendan Flynn, Tim Murphy, Bobby McGarrell, Chris Crowley, Mike Murray, John “Bubba” Maddox, Mike Donovan, Bill Ahern, Jimmy Holmes, Jim Deady, Joe Burke, Bobby Picard, Danny Greene, Dave Ivaska, and Steve LaBreck.
The SBYHL president is Thomas McGrath, the vice president is Edward “Teddy” Cunniff, the treasurer is John Picariello, and the league board members are John Gilmartin, Joe Hamilton, Kathy Lafferty, Lisa O’Neil, and Patty Orton.
(Nominees Bobby Banks and Michael Greene were unable to attend this event.)