CANTON Jake Watson rose above his circumstances on a struggling Canton high school hockey team last season.
Watson, now a junior, played in goal for a program that had won four state titles but last year staggered to a 3-14-3 overall record.
But Watson played impressively enough to earn honorable mention status on the all-state Division I squad and is back for what could be his final season as a Golden Bear.
I think he did a real good job, said Canton coach Randy Brown, a former goalie at St. Lawrence Central and SUNY Potsdam. We were having such a hard time scoring that we were putting a lot of pressure on him. But he played solid game in and game out. He let a goal in and very seldom did that goal cause him to let another bad one in afterwards because he was worrying about it. He was pretty good about shaking it off, having that selective amnesia and moving on.
Watson knows better than anyone whats expected of a Canton hockey program. He goes to practice several days a week in the Canton Pavilion and sees the four state championship banners.
Canton, for as long as I can remember, youd grow up wanting to be a hockey player, Watson said. You looked up at the programs that were from here, not just the state (championship) teams, but SUNY Canton does well at their level and, of course, St. Lawrence University. Joe (Marsh) was a pretty big influence on me in my younger years. Hes a family friend.
This whole area is really surrounded by hockey and right at the forefront is St. Lawrence in your backyard. Canton has always been about tradition. Theres always that sense of tradition with Canton athletics and hockey is more evident. Its even about how you carry yourself as a person after you are done playing here.
Watson said he went to games before he was in high school and his role model as a goalie was former Golden Bear Joe Spadaccini, who played at SLU. He also looked up to Sean and Kyle Flanagan, who both moved on to SLU.
Last year may have been a difficult one for the Golden Bears, but with Watson in goal, Canton believes it can contend if some of its younger players emerge as scoring threats.
Even though Watson is a junior, he could be done with his Canton career after this season.
Said Brown, It may be time for him to (leave for prep school), I dont know. Ive never been opposed to that.
Coach: Joe Eppolito
2011-12 record: 10-11-1, lost to Massena in Section Xs Division I final.
Players to watch: We are a relatively young team with no standout stars right now, Eppolito said.
Roster: Zac Natali (Sr., D); Christoper Strough (Sr., G); Zach Walti (Sr., F); Caleb Wills (Sr., F);
James Cole (Jr., G); Kyle Delaney (Jr., F); Evan Dier (Jr., F); Trevor Hughes (Jr., D/F); Colby Hunter (Jr., D/F); Nick McCabe (Jr., F); Jordan VanBrocklin (Jr., F); Ryan Charlebois (So., F); Brodix Gill (So., F); Cam Morgan (So., F); Talon Parker (So., D); Dylan Patch (So., F); Tristan Thomson (So., F); Garrett Denny (Fr., F); Tyler Gilfus (Fr., D); Danny Gionet (Fr., D/F); Kyle Gorman (Fr., F); Jeremy Johnston (Fr., F); Miles Kearns (Fr., G); Austin Marshall (Fr., D); Sean Shepard (Fr., D); Nick VanOsdel (Fr., F);
Coach: Randy Pound
2011-12 record: 5-14-2, lost to Hamilton in Section III playoff game.
Players to watch: Michael Morgia, Jared Pignone, Jason Reape, Jake Renzi, Jordan Trudeau.
Roster: Raeleen Barlow (Sr., D); Hayden Crowder (Sr., F); Mike Morgia (Sr., F); David Brancheau (Jr., F); Larz Forsyth (Jr., F); Steven Lowe (Jr., F); MaZaq Moore (Jr., D); Matthew McCormick (Jr., D); Jared Pignone (Jr., D); Jake Renzi (Jr., F); Jason Reape (Jr., D); Ben Brosch (So., F); Grant Chamberlain (So., G); Nick Graham (So., F); Dan Grant (So., F); Patrick Harrington (So., F); Jordan Trudeau (So., F); Jonathan Richards (Fr., F).
Ontario Bay Storm
Coach: Chris Sturik
2011-12 record: 1-17-0.
Players to watch: Michael Barry, Ben Englebreckt, Ben Markle, Tom Taplin.
Roster: Michael Barry (Sr., D); Tyler Cartier (Sr., D); Tyler Deleel (Jr., D); Ben Englebreckt (Sr., F); Kyle Hughes (Sr., F); Ben Markle (Sr., F); Phil Cherchio (Jr., F); Brett Wolfe (Jr., F); Tom Taplin (Jr., F); Morgan Deleel (So., D); Josh Kilts (So., F); Cody Steinfeld (So., D); Devon Ackley (Fr., F); Trevor Forsythe (Fr., D); Jack Goodnough (Fr., F); Joe Karboski (Fr., F); Seth Lallier (Fr., D); Austin Lasinski (Fr., F); Leo Phillips (Fr., F); Edward Sheats (Fr., G); Mike Yard (Fr., D); Jesse Cornell (8th gr., D); Noah Newton (8th gr., D); Connor Raham (8th Gr., F).