When CBA captured its second consecutive Non-Public state title on March 9, a familiar face was seen watching over the group.
Former CBA forward Brendan van Riemsdyk – who skated for the Colts from 2011-2014 – stood with his program prior to the opening puck drop, sending well-wishes to his teammates of yesteryear while fending off those same butterflies felt fluttering in his gut a season ago, when he and the Colts played to a 4-4 tie in the finals with Morristown-Beard.
However, on that Monday night in Newark, van Riemsdyk’s nervous emotions were soon displaced by a more prideful brand, as CBA erased a three-goal deficit to defeat Delbarton 4-3 in overtime.
“It was definitely an unbelievable feeling,” said van Riemsdyk, who is now a member of the Islanders Hockey Club in the United State Premiere Hockey League (USPHL). “Though I’m not there anymore, I still had that gut wrenching feeling, the nerves, before they took the ice.”
“Those are some of my best buddies for life on that team. Watching those guys get it done, winning outright this time, it was great to go in the locker room before the game with them and celebrate after, because in a small way you still feel like your part of it.”
Though that state title is still fresh on the minds of the CBA hockey community, what’s not to be overlooked is van Riemsdyk’s own recent success, as the 19-year old starred this past season for the Islanders Hockey Club team, which earned its place in the USPHL Playoffs and made a semifinals appearance.
van Riemsdyk delivered two goals and an assist over the course of four playoff games, but it was his regular season efforts that were most recognized, as the 6’5 forward was named the 2015 USPHL Rookie of the Year after recording 41 points on 29 goals and 12 assists in 47 games.
“It’s a huge honor to be named Rookie of the Year,” van Riemsdyk said, “but I wouldn’t have had that sort of success without my linemates (Nathan Ferriero and Ross Olsson). They’re a little bit older than I am and really took me under their wing. Without them and the great coaching staff we have, this wouldn’t have been possible. It’s a testament to them.”
van Riemsdyk’s point total placed him just outside the top 30 in USPHL scoring, but his 29 goals were tied for fifth most in the league.
With so many highlights in only his first year with the Islanders, van Riemsdyk is excited to head back to the club for the 2015-16 season, and continue to prove wrong any doubters that may still remain.
“I’m headed back to play with the Islanders and I’m excited about it because our coach (Sean Tremblay) has high hopes for the team, and I do as well.”
“I’m thankful that the Islanders gave me an opportunity because at the end of my senior year (at CBA) there were a couple of teams that past on me and it got in my head a little bit. You have all summer to think about that and it definitely served as motivation…It pays not to take any shortcuts when you have something to prove, and more so, to prove the people right that did believe in you.”
Like his older brothers James (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Trevor (Chicago Blackhawks) before him, Brendan has also committed to play at the University of New Hampshire when he decides to graduate from the junior hockey ranks to the NCAA level.