The Newsome Hockey team won their first Lightning Cup Championship since 2008. (Photo courtesy of Gavan Howard.)

The Newsome Wolves have become one of the most dominant hockey programs in the state, claiming their first Lightning Cup Championship since 2008 after beating Steinbrenner 4-1.

“The moment the final buzzer went off at the end of the game, a surge of excitement rushed through me because of what our team accomplished,” said junior team captain and left/right wing Christian Aguiar. “This win meant a lot to me because I was very happy to see all the work the team and our coaches put in this season and the years before pay off and lead us to the win.”

Newsome had 63 students making up two varsity teams and one junior varsity squad. The Newsome Wolves and the Newsome Wolverines were two of six ‘Pure’ Tier 1 varsity squads in the 22-team Lightning High School Hockey League (LHSHL), meaning that all players in the Newsome Hockey program attend the school. Tier 2 teams pull students from multiple high schools to field a complete program. They anticipate having 70 players in the 2022-2023 fall season, making them bigger than the current Newsome Football team and the largest program in the LHSHL.

“Each game had a moment that sticks out in my mind leading up to the championship,” said senior center/defenseman Braxton Lucero. “Every goal scored was a rush of excitement and celebration that you typically don’t get after scoring during a regular game. The moment that sticks out the most is definitely the feeling after Ethan Kitsis scored in overtime to advance us to semifinals.”

Newsome Hockey Head Coach Mark Rosengard has been with the program for the past decade, stepping into the head position in 2020-21 during the height of a pandemic. He took his club, along with Assistant Coach Matt Dykstra, to the championship in just two short seasons, winning the Lightning Cup for the first time in 14 years.

“I would like to give a special shout-out to Coach Mark and Coach Matt for everything they have done for us,” said Aguiar. “They give it their all to make us better players and a better team, and they really prepared us for playoffs and states this year. I am honored to have been selected as captain this year and I am looking forward to working with all the existing and new players this spring to become a better team so we can defend our title next year and for the years to come.”

The Wolves have qualified for the SAHOF State Tournament in Orlando at the end of February.

“We hope to win states and go play in nationals,” said junior defenseman Cole Parkhurst. “Our team is only losing a few players this year and, hopefully, we can win the cup again next season.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.