With the new AIHL season looming, first-year coach Vinnie Barone calls the players in. It is the last practice before the season begins. All of the Demons Orange players listen to each command and begin the grind of another practice session. Last chance to work out the kinks and make adjustments before the first game commences. This season is different, though. After an off-season which gave way to major changes in the organization these last tweaks and changes are more pertinent to the Delco Demons success than ever before. Barone calls the drills and gives a parting word to the group; “Have Fun”. Barone starts off this season from the bench with the same dedication he’s shown as a part of the organization from its inception. He will oversee and led this team with the same tenacity and determination which earned him respect as a player.
The Orange team consists of a mix of veterans and a crop of fresh faces. Through the practices and weeks leading up to the season the team feels closer than ever before. This has much to do with a returning group of leadership which includes new captain Bob Sherwood, Chester Kozikowski, Rick Burns, Phil Miller, Rob Basquill, and John Miller. Along with this existing core group is Bill Sherwood’s return to the rink. Being part of the organization for all these years have given all of these players a vocal role on and off the floor, which for this AIHL season will be crucial for success. Joining these veterans are the brothers Stan and Mike Tilton, Andrew Theado, Robert Buccino, Xavier Ramirez, and Matt Foley. These players all were selected because they fit the mold of a Demon and have begun to gel with the team in only a matter of weeks.
The forward group boasts both smart, physical skaters as well as speedy, crafty players. In this group there is the returning Phil ‘The Thrill” Miller. A sneaky-fast, pick-pocket artist who possesses one of the most crafty backhands, tending to get the back of the net through 5 holes on unsuspecting net-minders. John Miller (no relation) joins him as a smooth skater with hands that can undress a defenseman with litter effort. A new addition to the organization, Rob Buccino possesses a speedy set of wheels and a snapshot that finds its way to twine with ease. Bill Sherwood returns to the floor, adding a big left-handed shot and two decades of experience to the mix. Stan Tilton brings a nasty set of mitts along with the intelligence to set up plays and put the puck in the net himself. Matt Foley, with his tenacity and silky smooth skating rounds out this group and helps the Demons bring together on of the strongest offensive units they’ve ever had on a rink. Xavier Ramirez compliments this set of forwards with a smart hockey IQ, and accurate wrister, and hard work down low to win the tough battles necessary to win games.
To complement this skilled offensive unit, the Demons Orange have chosen to dress a group of Defenseman capable of providing sound defensive play along with contributions to the offensive side of the game. Leading this unit is the captain of the team Bob Sherwood. Sherwood commands a vocal role on the team both on the rink and in the locker room. A no-flash all substance type player, Sherwood makes life difficult for the opposition on a nightly basis and ha more than his share of clutch goals in the past. Joining him on the back end is long-time members of the club Rob Basquill, Chester Kozikowski, and Rick Burns. These three join Sherwood as long tenured members and provide more leadership for a team brimming in confidence. Kozikowski is probably known most for a booming slap-shot from the point which has left many victims in its path, including opposing defenders and net-minders alike. Basquill gives added stability to the back-end with strong footwork and a hockey IQ unrivaled in the league. Joining this veteran core is Andrew Theado and Mike Tilton. Tilton, brother of forward Stan, is a craft player with incredible defensive instincts and a knack for the right play at the right time. Theado has shown a huge dedication not only in simple travel time for the team (coming from the D.C. area), but also his contributions on the rink. He’s continued to display the natural ability that should see him be a force from the defensive zone and a piece that will help the team flourish on the road to it’s ultimate goal.
Burns perhaps is the most inspirational story in the league. In his return to the rink last year after a battle with brain cancer, Burns shows his heart and dedication not only by his play by by his spirit. Despite his self-given nickname on the team, Burns is a person the rest of the team truly marvels at and will look to help carry them throughout the season. On the rink he gives the defensive unit a strong puck-mover who will occasionally sneak in to the zone and display silky mitts to find top shelf at will.
Goaltending depth has long been a staple of the Demons organization. And while the faces may have changed to some degree, the players between the pipes remain as skillful and talented as ever. Returning to the crease are Danielle Speroff and Justin MacDonald. Joining them is newcomer Matt Grace. A long-time member of the Orange group, Speroff is one of the most decorated athletes on the roster and brings her fierce competitive nature and technical style to the fold. Making the jump from a past tier 2 silver team which showed great promise, MacDonald brings a mix of insane flexibility, speed, and a never give up attitude to every play. Grace has continued to show major strides at every turn in the weeks leading up to the season, adding speed and positional awareness and showing the flashes of potential that can make him a mainstay in the crease for the Demons. All three goalies show the competition isn’t going to get the best of them, and it seems to drive each one to give their all each game for what could possibly be the best group of net-minders Demons Orange has seen in quite some time.
A powerful offensive unit. A stout defensive core. Three net-minders and the top of their game. That’s what teams are looking at whenever they come to play against the 2018 Demons Orange squad. That’s what you’ll see kick off the season December 2nd at The Hockey Dek. When firing on all cylinders this team is a real problem for rivals. Given the leadership provided by new Coach Vinnie Barone, the potential for this team is enormous. The goal for this team is a national championship and to make it the most engaging and entertaining experience for everyone involved. This sentiment is echoed each practice with Coach Barone’s final words to the team: “Play hard, play smart, and make it fun!”.