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By Kristen Bowness, 09/11/15, 5:30PM EDT


Lightning High School Hockey League Team Highlight – River Ridge

                Nestled in New Port Richey, River Ridge high school will feel right at home in the Western conference of the Cullimore division in the newly established Lightning High School Hockey league this season. The community hockey department of the Tampa Bay Lightning will operate the league starting this year under the direction of League President Jay Feaster and Vice President Tom Garavaglia.

                Two weeks after training camp, the league is set to launch next Wednesday, September 16th. River Ridge will face off against East Lake on Friday, September 18th for the first game of their season. Finishing off with a 10-7 record last season (ranked 9th in the league of 17 teams), the River Ridge Knights are expected to advance in the standings with a more successful season this year under the direction of coaches Dean Loiacano and Kurt Nelson. Last year’s big name, Nathan Smith stowed away 50 points during his 17 games played with Brian Brady nipping at his heels with 43 points. Goalie Connor Green played 18 games with a 10-7-1 record and an average of 3.56 allowed goals. “ Our team brings back strong goaltending from last year with Conner Green in net but there will be a learning curve with 7 new players joining this year’s team and 6 of them being Freshman.  We are missing 70% of our point leaders from last season so it will be interesting to see who steps up to fill these spots” reports head coach, Dean Loiacano.

                Looking ahead, not only do the Knights want to defend their own net while lighting up their opponents, but to raise their spot in the standings – possibly back to the number 3 spot they held on to in 2009. Hopefully they will be able to hang on to elated rush of the last game of the season’s 11-1 victory over Sarasota and use that as their momentum to get this season off to a good start.