BRICK – On Thursday morning, Stanley Cup champion and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk returned to the rink where his dreams of NHL grandeur were first conceived, to celebrate with his first hockey family
Past and present members of the Brick Hockey Club flooded the Ocean Ice Palace to celebrate their famed alumnus and his part in capturing the most iconic trophy in sports.
“It means a lot to the kids,” Brick Hockey Club Coaching Director Alex DePalma said. “When Trevor won the cup his father Hans told me the first place he wanted to bring it was here to visit the Brick Stars and we were able to make the Brick Hockey Club a part of it, because both he and James went to the National Championship with us.”
“It’s very fitting that he brought it here, and it was Trevor’s choice,” added DePalma, who is also a head coach Point Boro High School, as well as the Jersey Shore Whalers. “The van Riemsdyks have always been very supportive of our program, and today they helped bring a lot of joy to a lot of great kids.”
Some of the largest smiles of the morning were displayed by those members of the Brick Stars, an ice hockey program for children and young adults with developmental disabilities that was founded in 2009.
“I think one of the most important things you can do when you have this opportunity is to remember all the people who helped you along the way.” Van Riemsdyk said.
“This Brick Stars program and coach DePalma have been huge supporters of me and my brother (James). So to be able to share this with them was pretty cool.”
Brick Stars captains Evan Yasser and Donald Peterson shared a similar sentiment.
“It’s beyond excitement right now,” Yasser said of the opportunity to see van Riemsdyk and the cup. “It feels as if we’ve won the cup. And we would all love for that to happen one day.”
“We’re very excited because this is not something you usually get a chance to do,”Peterson said. “We love playing hockey, and this just shows you that if try and work you can succeed and have great things.”
TVR goes to CBA: The second stop on van Riemsdyk’s tour of the Shore was the Lincroft campus of CBA, where the defenseman starred on the Colts blue line from 2006 through 2009, leading his club to a Non-Public State Finals appearance in his senior year.
“This feels like home. I came back today and it feels like I never left,” said van Riemsdyk, who had his number 6 jersey retired by the Colts hockey program on Thursday. “Playing for CBA was some of the best times I’ve had playing hockey in my life. I had so many friends on the team, and so many good buddies in the stands watching. It’s something I’ll remember forever.”
“I had a long year with injuries, and got a lot of texts and tweets from former teammates and classmates letting me know that they were thinking of me. And that support helps you get through it. Without these years here you never know how things end up…This is just a little thank you for everything they did for me.”
Another promising CBA defenseman in Ryan Bogan Jr. helped present van Riemsdyk with his framed Colts jersey in front of the congregation, and spoke of how thrilling the moment was.
“He’s a guy I’ve been watching since I was a little kid learning how to skate,” said Bogan Jr., who was a First Team All-Shore selection this past winter. “He’s the guy I looked up to and studied. So to present him with this jersey after he wins a cup his first year in the pros, it’s just awesome.”
As van Riemsdyk entered the site, Lord Stanley’s Cup hoisted with pride above his head, the Middletown native was trailed by CBA’s 2015 state championship winning collective, and for those players in attendance the event proved to be something they’ll never forget.
“It’s very special for us,” CBA captain Greg Malafronte said. “To see a guy like that go through four years at CBA and all the way to a Stanley Cup championship, it’s very inspirational because it’s something we all want to do when we’re older.”
“It’s special to know that CBA has a place in his heart, because that’s how we all feel,” fellow Colts captain Conor Tierney said. “I’m an alumni now like him, but I know it’s an inspiration to the younger guys here to not only do well on the ice but academically as well, because this is what you can achieve.”
Cup comes to Middletown: The final destination for van Riemdyk’s Stanley Cup caravan was the Middletown Arts Center – a site roughly five minutes down the road from where the Middletown native played his roller hockey at Normandy Park – where the defenseman was awarded the key to the city by Mayor Stephanie C. Murray, among other gifts and accolades.
It was at this stop where van Riemsdyk’s father Frans was able to reflect on the day that was, and to do so with all three of his sons (Trevor, James, and Brendan) under one roof.
“From a parental perspective, to see all three of my sons sort of bask in the glow of the cup, is a really special feeling. And to see them all be so supportive of one another throughout all of this has been off the charts rewarding for my wife and I.”
Frans also spoke of his son’s willingness to share the Stanley Cup experience with local ice hockey community.
“We’re all long time avid hockey fans and one of the things we talked about is a certain obligation that comes with having the cup,” Frans said. “It’d be nice and easy to keep it in your back yard and have a barbeque, but that’s not what the spirit of the cup is about.”
“So we put a plan together to give back to everyone who has been so supportive of Trevor and our family over the years. We’ll certainly have enough time tonight for some private time, but this was an obligation for him, and he felt that it was important to share it with as many people as possible.”
van Riemsdyk was a rookie in 2014-15 and skated in 18 regular season games with the Blackhawks before suffering an injury that kept him sidelined for the majority of the playoffs. However, the 24-year old returned to skate in the final four games of the Stanley Cup finals.
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