The East Coast Youth Hockey League includes teams from large cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte and Charleston. But when its Squirt Division concluded the 2003-04 regular season this month, three of its top four scorers were members of the Augusta Junior Lynx, and all three attend Columbia County schools.
Chase Suprek of Martinez Elementary School and Mickey Reville of South Columbia Elementary Schooltied for the league's scoring title with 19 points. Daniel Anderson, of Blue Ridge Elementary School, finished next with 17 combined points in the league's division that includes 9- to 11-year-olds.
Chase, 10, a fourth-grader at Martinez, has been playing ice hockey five years. He led the league with 16 goals and three assists, 19 points in 12 games.
"He's got size and speed and a good shot," said his coach Andy Chaquette, who said he was impressed with his team play.
Mickey, 11, also tallied 19 points with 10 goals and nine assists. He's been playing three years.
"He's also got size," Chaquette said, "and good hands."
Daniel, 11, also began playing three years ago.
"He's our team captain," Chaquette said. "He leads by example - a strong, silent leader out there on the ice."
The team closed the regular season with a 7-4-1 record and a second-place league finish. It now enters a tournament season with games scheduled against other Southeastern teams.
Chaquette said the success of the Columbia County players on the Augusta team reflects well on the availability of local athletic programs.
"The recreational opportunities and facilities available here foster athletics," he said. "We're always looking for new players."
The team plays and practices at the Augusta Ice Sports Center in west Augusta, which has a variety of ice hockey and skating programs.
Chaquette also cited the advantages of in-line roller hockey sponsored by Columbia County's Marshall Family Y. The in-line program starts a new season with a clinic at 9 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Wesley United Methodist Church, 825 N. Belair Road, in Evans.
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