It’s great to see a professional hockey game live. But chances are that, even if we weren’t still mired in a recession, most of us would think twice about paying at least $50 apiece for non-nosebleed Devils or Rangers tickets for the entire family. Especially if some members of the family were still young and fidgety, and not able to sit through an entire game.
The solution: Take in a Verona-Glen Ridge hockey team game. The program, which spans the two towns in its name, has both a high school team and one for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The high schoolers play most of their home and away games at either the Clary Anderson arena on Chestnut Street in the center of Montclair or South Mountain area (now known as the Richard J. Codey arena) on Northfield Avenue in West Orange. The middle school team often skates at Floyd Hall arena on the campus of Montclair State University. Easy drives with easy parking. And you can’t beat the ticket prices: About $4 for adults and $2 for kids, depending on the venue.
Stephen Ruggiero is in his 12th year as head coach of the Verona-Glen Ridge hockey team (HBW technology teacher Andor Kish is one of his two assistant coaches) and he clearly loves it when the fans turn out to cheer his players. “Of all the teams that play at South Mountain arena,” he says, “Verona has the greatest fan support.” That provides more than just moral support to the team: Like many other extra-curricular sports, hockey is only partially funded by the Board of Education; sharing in ticket revenue at the arena helps close the gaps in what can be a costly sport.
This year’s high school team, which is 3-2-0 so far, has 35 players from the two towns, including Verona goalies Mack Kirby and Matt Brehne; forwards Tyler Roeland, Jocelyn Smith, Greg Schiffenhaus, Robby Serafino, Connor O’Neil, Rocky Guidicipietro, Chris Lapone, Patrick Sullivan, Jake Facey, Robert Maguire and Zach Lanaras; and defense players Ian Garsman, Joe Fitzmaurice, Devon McKenna, Ryan Flood and Sarah McFarland. The middle school fields 24 kids, also coached by Ruggiero and staff, and Ruggiero is hoping to attract 20 players for a new team that will span grades three, four and five. Look for a note about sign-up day in your child’s backpack soon.
The next Verona-Glen Ridge varsity game is Monday, December 28 at 4 p.m. against Tenafly at the Clary Anderson arena. Even if you don’t have a budding Gretzky in the family, it’s a good way to spend an afternoon of school vacation. Look for other games on the MyVeronaNJ calendar, color-coded grey.