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High School Ice Hockey:
Coach of Eastern Trying to Deal with Losing

Tuesday, February 22, 2000

By Mike Costantino
SJSports Staff Writer

Mike Pontonio, like most coaches hates to lose, and one of the toughest things in sports is dealing with the reality that you just didn't have enough players to succeed. In Coach Pontonio's position, he hasn't had to deal with much failure, in the last four years he has won the championship at every level, including the last two titles at the varsity level. Not many teams in any sport win championships back-to-back, and with such success comes a desire for the team you're playing on that particular night to put a little extra effort because they are playing the defending champs. Every game is like a playoff game even against the lesser teams, everyone wants to beat the champion.


Coming into the semi-finals against Clearview, Eastern seemed to be peaking at the right time, everyone was recovered from various injuries and Coach Pontonio felt the team had a good practice session. But when they dropped the puck on Friday night, his team was flat and Coach Pontonio suffered his most lopsided defeat from a South Jersey team. One of the signs of a good coach after a blowout loss is what changes does he make to counter the opposition's strategy. Well, Coach Pontonio made the adjustments for game two and the game was still undecided midway through the third period, but not having enough players at the defensive position is what cost his team.

Coach Pontonio's biggest disappointment however was that his top senior, Mike Cianfrani, who according to his coach, is the most consistent player he has ever coached, lost his final game as a Viking. I am sure that whatever college Mike plays for, he'll remember the four years of winning under Coach Pontonio and the work ethic he preached, more than losing his last game.

Photos by Art Redd & Boog Williams

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