Brendan Manning was more than a scoring leader for the Blue Devils, plus the rest of our hockey All-Star team

It wasn’t about the numbers for Brendan Manning. Never was, really.

Because the 64 points over two seasons on 32 goals and 32 assists pretty much came naturally, as if the Victor High senior were born to skate and score.

“I’ve always been a skilled player,” said Manning, who helped the Blue Devils win a Section V championship as a junior and advance to the semifinals this past season. “This year, I really wanted to work on leadership skills.”

Considering what the Blue Devils were up against, and what they still were able to accomplish, Manning can take comfort in knowing the strides made as a leader on and off the ice did not go unnoticed. That’s one of the big reasons, along with the numbers, that Manning is the Daily Messenger’s Player of the Year for hockey. Patrick Wade, in his second season as coach at Canandaigua Academy, is our Coach of the Year.

As for Manning, he’s no different than any athlete who wants to improve his skill set. He’s always working on getting better and next season, he’ll be doing that in junior hockey with options he has yet to define. But what he does know is he wants to “develop a little more” before what he hopes can become a career in NCAA Division I hockey.

All of that is yet to happen, of course, but there is no mistaking the impact he’s leaving behind as the Monroe County Division 2 Player of the Year. Not only at Victor, but in Section V. Yes, he scored 64 points in two regular seasons with the Blue Devils, but he also had 10 postseason points on four goals and six assists. 

And to think it nearly didn’t even happen. Manning played travel hockey as a freshman and sophomore, bypassing the high school hockey scene. But the chance last season to play with older brother Patrick in Victor was too much to pass on. As a senior, he was considering prep school but ended up informing coach Mike Ferreri that he’d be coming back to Victor for a final skate.

But as is the case with most high school seasons, the beginning had plenty of questions. Graduation took its toll, of course, and then came the injury to starting goalie Chayse Ierlan. That meant the duties went to Georgie Stathopoulos. He did well, of course, but that hurdle to clear was just an example of what the Blue Devils faced heading into the season.

And it’s why Manning saw, and seized, the opportunity to be more of a leader.

“I hope I’m known for always being there for a teammate,” said Manning, who finished his senior season with 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points that included three game-winning goals. “Basically doing anything it takes. It’s not about the points, it’s about the work ethic. In places like the gym, guys can see the little things you do.”

And like the timing needed for a slapshot, Manning’s emergence as a leader was on point. He was just one of two seniors on the team, and there are times when older teammates can put the finishing touches on what coaches say.

“We lost a lot of key guys from the year before but everybody knew we went into the season with a lot of skill and talent,” said Manning. “I’m proud of the way we stuck together the whole year.”

All-Stars

Coach of the Year

Patrick Wade (Canandaigua): Coached Braves to 14-5-1 overall record and berth in the Section V Class B semifinals … Braves were 6-3-1 in Monroe County Division 3 standings … CA defense allowed just 45 goals, second-fewest in Division 3 … Coached the Braves to “the biggest win of my life” at the Brian J. Wade Tournament in Ogdensburg, a tournament played to honor his late brother.

Players

Alex Burley (Canandaigua): Led Braves with 45 total points … Scored 43 points in the regular season with 23 goals and 20 assists, which included three game-winning goals … Added one goal and one assist in Section V Tournament … Had seven games with two or more goals scored … Named second team Monroe County All-Star.

Noah Schwartz (Canandaigua): Junior played 606 minutes as No. 1 goalie for Braves … Posted save percentage of .921, which ranked seventh-best in Section V and goals-against average of 2.23 (15th) in regular season … In two playoff games, had save percentage of .914 and goals-against of 2.50 … Recorded 349 saves … Named second team Monroe County All-Star.

Mitch Rydzynski (Victor): Fourth-year varsity player was team captain … Had 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points in regular season, second-most on the team … Had two goals and three assists for five points in postseason … Credited with eight game-winning goals as a senior and 14 for his career … Named first team Monroe Division 2 County All-Star … Awarded Top Scholar/Athlete Award for Monroe County Division 2.

Joe Post (Canandaigua): Senior forward was second on the team with 42 points on 25 goals and 17 assists in regular season … Added one assist in Section V Tournament … Credited with five game-winning goals …. Had three hat tricks in the regular season and five more games with two goals … His 25 goals in regular season were tied for second-most in Section V … Named first team Monroe County Division 3 All-Star.

Sam Lambert (Victor): Junior forward scored 13 goals and assisted on 20 for 33 points in the regular season … Finished season with 34 points after assisting on a goal in Section V Tournament … Scored two goals in three separate games … Named second team Monroe County All-Star.

Connor Gelabert (Victor): Sophomore defenseman led Monroe County Division 2 defenders in scoring with 11 points on one goal and 11 assists in the regular season … Had six power-play assists … Named first team Monroe County All-Star.

Spencer Taft (Canandaigua): Senior defenseman had three goals and 11 assists for 14 points in regular season … Added one goal in Section V Tournament.