The Columbia-based Howard Huskies U16AA and U18AA ice hockey team recently won the USA Hockey Maryland state playoffs to qualify for the USA Hockey Nationals, where they will compete against teams from all 50 states, April 2-7.
"It's a great experience for the kids. They get a chance to compete against teams from all over the country who have qualified, and they're getting a chance to play hockey in April," said Bud Buonato, who is head coach of both teams.
The Huskies Midget U16AA Silver team defeated the Montgomery Blue Devils in the Maryland state championship and will travel to Troy, Michigan on April 3. They are the first Huskies U16AA team to ever advance to Nationals.
The Huskies Midget U18AA Blue team was victorious over the TriCity Eagles, and is headed to Hartford, Connecticut, for its National tournament. It is the U18AA team's fourth trip to Nationals in the last five years.
"It's kind of a winning tradition. It's really nice," Buonato said.
A fundraiser for both teams will be held at the Greene Turtle in Columbia on Monday, March 25, to help with travel costs.
Ten percent of sales from the day will be donated to the Howard Huskies.
A 2011 Jordan Staal autographed Winter Classic Penguins jersey will be raffled off, $5 per ticket, starting at 5 p.m. on Monday. The winning ticket will be drawn on April 1 with the results announced April 1 at www.howardhuskies.org.
The 16UAA team is hosting a supplemental online fundraiser at http://www.gofundme.com/29ybh4.
The U18AA team members are: Taylor Abell (Atholton), Casey Carpenter (River Hill), Timothy Carson, T.J. Clingerman (Marriotts Ridge), Evan Davis (Atholton), Matthew Dean, Jansen Earle (Long Reach), K.C. Elliott, Jack Finn, Charlie Harrison (Glenelg), Sean Kreps, Benson Liberman, Jarek Milauskas (Long Reach), Tucker Plunkert, Brandon Potter (Atholton), Derek Potter (Atholton), Dylan Schoen (Marriotts Ridge), Bobby Tibbs, Jake Valenze (Glenelg) and Christopher Wessells.
The U16AA team members are: Kurt Barsotti, Aidan Bittinger-Esser, Timothy Blout, Will Davis, Josh Godbold, Kevin Green (River Hill), Griffin Hinkle (Mount St. Joseph), Philip LoPresto (Howard), Keith Murphy, Derek Nadeau (Centennial), Doug Noonan (Howard), Ben Peters (River Hill), Hayden Seay (Mount St. Joseph), Dominic Sesto (Long Reach), C.J. Shaw (Mount St. Joseph), Matthew Taylor (Howard), Michael Wiser, Daniil Zeller (Atholton) and Michael Zerhusen (Mount St. Joseph).
Former Huskies who are now playing in college include Nicholas Bogdash (Atholton), a freshman at Penn State Berks; Harrison Colby (Centennial), a freshman at West Virginia University; and Eliot Tarash (Atholton), a freshman at Salisbury University.
Penn State Berks and West Virginia are Division 1 members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, while Salisbury is a Division 3 member. Bogdash and Tarash were both captains on the 2012 Maryland Student Hockey League state champion Raiders.