By Mike Dougherty
The season was a blur.
For the first time in a memorable career at Suffern that included lengthy periods of rest and recuperation, Justin Tiso did not require a note from the doctor. The senior forward only missed one game due to the flu, and the end result was impressive.
He played at 78 rpm all season long, earning Journal News Player of the Year honors in Rockland County.
“In my eyes, Justin was the best player in Section 1,” Scarsdale forward James Nicholas said. “He is so dynamic and has such a high skill level. And fast. We’d protect the outside against them and Justin would still beat us wide.”
Staying on the ice topped a preseason list of personal goals.
“Not getting hurt was in the back of my mind all season long,” said Tiso, a senior who led the Mounties with 21 goals and 17 assists. “I was just hoping that nothing bad was going to happen, and getting through an entire season meant everything to me.”
All of the bumps and bruises were a minor inconvenience.
The other first-team, all-county selections are forward Adam Marvin of Clarkstown, forward Kevin Murphy of Pearl River, defenseman Troy Daniels of Suffern, defenseman Nick Kim of Clarkstown and goalie Sean Gordon of Suffern.
Anyone who believes Tiso is fragile doesn’t know the whole story.
He suffered a collarbone injury freshman year and missed nine games. A broken foot suffered in gym class his sophomore year resulted in nine more games on the sideline. He was on the shelf six games with a concussion in his junior year following an unsportsmanlike hit by a North Rockland player.
Tiso almost sighed in relief when he finally reached 100 career points this winter.
“I think we always knew what Justin could do, but we got to see it over a full season for the first time,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said. “When you have a kid like that who is so dynamic, who every time he steps on the ice is so dangerous, it makes coaching so much easier.”
Tiso is known for the game-changing speed, but he also came to practice with a mindset to improve.
“It shows the kind of leadership Justin wanted to provide,” Schelling said. “We some good freshmen playing with us and it was great for them to see a kid that good always going that hard. That was important to Justin. He wanted to make his mark on the program. We have a strong tradition at Suffern, and it’s because of kids like Justin.”
Scouts from junior teams did take notice.
Tiso recently narrowed the list down, and will pick from among three finalists in the coming days. He’s not dropping names yet.
“It’s probably been the hardest week of my life,” he said on Wednesday. “I’ve had to say, ‘No’ to a few teams and, ‘Yes’ to a few others. I’ll probably give it three years. I want to play at the highest level I can possibly play at, maybe a Division III team like Manhattanville or a SUNYAC team.”
The first step isn’t easy.
“I have to get bigger,” said Tiso, who is carrying 165 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. “I always seem to have a hard time putting on weight, but I have to bulk up so this offseason I’ll be taking it very seriously.”
F — Justin Tiso, Suffern, Sr.
F — Adam Marvin, Clarkstown, Jr.
F — Kevin Murphy, Pearl River, Sr.
D — Nick Kim, Clarkstown, Sr.
D — Troy Daniels, Suffern, So.
G — Sean Gordon, Suffern, Jr.
Coach of the year — Rob Schelling, Suffern
F — Max McGee, Pearl River, Sr.
F — Michael Redgate, Suffern, Sr.
F — Nick Sassano, Clarkstown, Sr.
D — Eric Menninger, Clarkstown, Sr.
D — Brian Bohlander, North Rockland, Jr.
G — Tim Cavanagh, Clarkstown, So.
Honorable mention: Sam Coughlin, Pearl River, Sr., G; C.J. Greco, Suffern, Jr., F; Kenny Hoppe, North Rockland, So., G; Matt Kowalchuk, Nyack/Tappan Zee, Sr., D; Mark McElroy, North Rockland, Sr., F; James Morina, North Rockland, Jr., F; Luke Myers, Clarkstown, Jr., F; Tim Patwell, Suffern, Jr., F.
(Selections made via poll on lohud hockey blog)
F — Justin Tiso, Suffern, 381 votes
F — Kevin Murphy, Pearl River, 183
F — Michael Redgate, Suffern, 43
D — Matt Kowalchuk, Nyack/Tappan Zee, 1,369
D — Brian Bohlander, North Rockland, 1,139
G — Tim Cavanagh, Clarkstown 520
Player of the year — Kowalchuk