River Dell/Westwood hockey team thrives this past season

Joe Carlson, Staff Writer

The River Dell/Westwood hockey season has been an exciting and successful season. Led by the new coach, Coach Kevin Sabella, the team won against Paramus Catholic for the first time in ice hockey history. In the regular season, every team plays each other twice; the Hawks lost to Paramus Catholic once in the beginning of the season, but defeated them 3-1 at the last home game for the first time in history. The excitement of the victory propelled them through quarterfinals, defeating Fair Lawn and moving on to play Paramus Catholic once again in the semifinals.

The Hawks stepped onto the ice determined to beat Paramus Catholic and continue their season. Both teams played well, but Riverdell and Westwood came out on top, winning the game with a score of 2-0. Coach Kevin Sabella said, “we prepared for the semi finals just like any other game. We had good lead up practices up to the game and also playing them twice during the season we knew what to expect from them. Our game plan was to try and limit their space coming up the ice and the boys did a fabulous job of doing that. Part of our game plan was to capitalize on opportunities and they did that as well.” The team executed most of their plays successfully and were able to score twice and keep the puck away from their side of the rink.

Westwood hockey player number 70, Matthew Ajello, is the varsity goalie for the team. Ajello blocked all 29 shots Paramus Catholic took, never letting them score once during the whole game. When asked how the semifinal game went, Ajello said, “the other team came at us very hard, they were very aggressive early on, but we sat back a little bit, took what was coming to us and got the win.” Ajello and the Hawks came out with a spectacular win against Paramus, sending them forward to the Finals.

The River Dell/Westwood Hawks lost in the Finals against the Ridgewood Maroons, ending their season. Coach Kevin Sabella said, “The players in the program, especially the seniors, made my first year at Westwood high school ice hockey an easy transition. They listened and followed through on everything the coaching staff asked them to do and it showed in their overall team record. As a program we are always looking to move forward in our direction and next year is no different.” Goalie Matthew Ajello said, “we have very high expectations for ourselves next year, anything that’s not a win in the league is a disappointment and a failure. We think we are going to take the championship next year.” Next year will be an interesting year and it will be exciting to see how the team can top their excellent performance this season.