Since drawing attention at the USA Hockey Festival in 2009, Dominic Trento has spent four seasons moving between four different Eastern Junior Hockey League teams. That climb reached a new peak this season when Trento helped the Jersey Hitmen become the Eastern League’s top team.
It took some time for Trento to fit in with his new team, but after sitting out an early-season game as a scratch, the Brockport, N.Y. resident changed positions and found his place. By the time the playoffs arrived, Trento was firmly established as the center on a line with team captain Jack Riley and Tim Clifton, both Division I recruits.
Jersey fell behind twice in the deciding game of the Dineen Cup Finals, but Trento scored two goals and assisted on two others to lead what turned into an 8-2 romp over the Islanders Hockey Club from Tyngsboro, Mass.
For his efforts, Trento was named Most Valuable Player of the Dineen Cup playoffs.
Trento said Hitmen coach Toby Harris made it clear what the player had to do to avoid a repeat of sitting out a game.
“Toby sat me down and let me know, ‘You’ve got to be more consistent, that’s the knock on you by college coaches,’” Trento said. “He really lit a fire under me.
“I wanted to prove I could be the go-to guy.”
It helped that Harris also found the right spot for Trento.
“At the beginning of the year, we had him at wing and weren’t really getting a lot out of him,” Harris said. “We had a couple of injuries and we moved him out to center.
“Once that move was made, he really took off.”
Trento completed a slow and steady climb through the ranks of the EJHL to become the league’s second-leading scorer.
Trento had been one of the New York District’s representatives at the Select Festival on the 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old level in each of the past four summers. However, he moved around the Eastern League in the fall and winter.
Trento scored six goals for Rochester, nine for Apple Core and 14 for Green Mountain before joining Jersey, where he produced 18 goals and 49 assists in the regular season.
By playoff time, Trento was one of the keys to a team that rattled off 27 straight wins at one point this season.
“He left his mark on every game in the playoffs,” Harris said. “Then, in the championship game, he had two goals and two assists. He was all over the ice.”
When they scored the game’s last seven goals, including six in the third period, the Hitmen captured their third Eastern League playoff title.
“After that talk, I started working my way up from being a scratch to being on the top line,” Trento said. “I really have to give credit to my linemates. They helped me to where I ended up as the second-leading scorer.
“When I look back I can see Toby did what he did on purpose. He got the most out of me as a player. I have to thank him for that.”
Trento improved his prospect status along the way. He said he has four scholarship offers and might commit in the weeks, although he still plans to spend another year in junior hockey while also working on getting himself more prepared academically.
Trento’s playoff MVP honor was just one of the individual awards Hitmen players claimed at the end of season in which they won 39 of 45 regular-season games.
Brendan Bradley was named EJHL Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 78 points on 17 goals and 61 assists in the regular season. The University of Vermont recruit from Richboro, Pa. had 10 more points in eight playoff games.
Andrew Black was named regular-season MVP of the league. Black, a Colgate recruit from Buffalo, N.Y., shared the league lead with 30 goals and also had 36 assists in 44 regular-season games. He then had six goals and six assists in the playoffs.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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