Posted 30 days ago ago by David Fine
Playoff berth on the line, Tri-City in view next season
David Fine/Kearney, Neb. – It’s a crisp Monday morning just north of Hartford, Connecticut and Tri-City Storm affiliate forward Joey Cipollone has an early wake-up call. His first class is still a few hours away, but first he attends to his daily job that starts at 7:30 a.m.
“Everyone has their work job,” Cipollone explains. “I make sure students clean their assigned classrooms and make their beds. I’m a supervisor.”
Not exactly normal captain responsibilities; Cipollone, 17, is in his second season at the prestigious and private Loomis Chafee School and was selected as the Pelicans’ Captain before the season. He balances practices, workouts, about three classes a day and a mandatory two-hour study hall each evening. It took the 5-foot-11, 170-lb. center time to find his groove when he arrived on campus.
“I’m more of a leader this season, on and off the ice,” he says. Cipollone has 15 goals and 26 points in 21 games. “We struggled a little bit in the middle of the season. I learned how to keep on pushing through.”
Loomis Chafee (12-9-1) is entering its final weekend of the regular season and needs two wins to secure a spot in Connecticut’s large-school playoffs. The first must-win is Wednesday against Choate Rosemary Hall, followed by a showdown against Avon Old Farms on Saturday. All three schools feature USHL draft picks.
“Hopefully what I’ve learned [as Captain], that’ll help me if I can come to Tri-City. It was a very exciting moment for me and my family getting drafted by a top organization.”
There’s precedent to believe that Cipollone, 17, might become the second-ever member of his immediate family to come to Kearney. First cousin “Joe Cipollone” (born 1997) won the Clark Cup with Tri-City in 2015-16. The families are next-door neighbors in Purchase, New York.
Younger “Cip”, the Storm’s Phase I, third-round pick in 2015, acknowledges they get mixed up all the time.
“I’ve only heard great things about the guys in the organization and in the locker room from [older] Joe. Some of the stuff he told me about the Clark Cup team was really special. I really look forward to hopefully being a part of it.”
It’s added motivation; Cipollone returned to prep school after attending the Storm’s Las Vegas Tryout Camp. “Their work ethic, the workouts, how they handle themselves off the ice has helped. They’re all really good people. My goal is to play for Tri-City next season.”
Also on the horizon is Joey’s brother, Anthony, 15, who is eligible to be drafted by a USHL club in 2018. Anthony and Joey are both committed to Vermont. Anthony became the youngest player to commit to a Division I hockey program in summer 2015, at 13 years old.
“It’s really special. Not everyone has the opportunity to get to play with their brother. I’m very fortunate he wanted to play with me,” says Cipollone in a joyful tone.
The attention swings back to this week, with the playoffs on the line. Next season, it might well be the Storm’s second “Cip” marching down the USHL homestretch with a playoff berth in sight.
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Tri-City begins a four-game home stand on Friday, February 24 at 7:05 p.m. against Sioux Falls on “Pack it In Purple Night”, presented by the Kearney Hub and the United Way. The Storm will wear one-night-only jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game. Saturday, February 25 at 7:05 p.m., Tri-City hosts Sioux City for Hockey Appreciation Night, with a free postgame skate after, presented by Graham Tire.