Hoboken, NJ) Hoboken can boast about a lot of things – it’s the birthplace of Frank Sinatra and the first baseball game ever played was in Hoboken – and now Hoboken celebrates another outstanding achievement, Muller’s Hoboken Rockets hockey team’s 2010 Ice House Championship won by an outstanding team of local residents from many walks of life.
Roger J. Muller, Jr. of Muller Insurance serves as team captain who led Muller’s Hoboken Rockets to win First Place in the 2010 Level 8 Ice House Championship with 7-wins, 1-tie and 0-losses. The Muller-Rockets is one of six hockey teams Roger J. Muller, Jr. runs and he often interchanges and overlaps players to offer them more playing opportunities. They, in turn, win championships. Muller proudly displays the 2010 championship trophy in his Muller’s Insurance office at 930 Washington Street in Hoboken, where it holds a place of honor next to the 50 other hockey trophies Muller’s hockey teams have won since he founded the teams twenty years ago.
One of the team’s shining achievements was the 2000 championship won in the National Championships in Toronto, Canada, while playing under the name NJ Rockets in the North America Hockey League. From 1991-2006 the team was affiliated with the North America Hockey League, which is headquartered in Virginia and run by Elliot Root.
“I’m so proud of my teams and the hard work they did last season and every season we compete,” Roger J. Muller, Jr. says. “Muller’s Hoboken Rockets is one of the best hockey teams I’ve had since I started organizing teams. Many hockey teams have the skill, but they don’t have the heart and the dream to be a winner. This team has that and more.”
With the 2010-11 Winter Season underway, Muller’s Hoboken- Rockets is again hitting the ice with a winning spirit. The team has 13-wins, 2-losses and 1-tie with high-scorers Roger J. Muller, Jr. making 11 goals, 14 assists and 25 points; and Andrew Beebe, team captain of the Level 8B team scoring13 goals, 8 assists and 21 points.
Certain things stand out about Muller’s Hoboken Rockets – their team work and camaraderie are part of what makes them special. The team is an interesting collective of individuals with extremely varied backgrounds and careers who become a cohesive unit when they hit the ice. Muller’s Hoboken Rockets team features Goalie Ron Giordano of Nanuet, NY; Forwards Marc Shoch, a Secaucus Police Officer, Jack Lenhart of Belleville who works as a geologist, Chief of Operations for McCabe Ambulance Mike McCabe of Bayonne, homemaker Sharon Calabrese of Rahway, law student Vincent Romano of Wayne; owner of Tu Va Bien restaurant in New York City Michael Touchard of Montclair, PNC bank administrator Andrew Beebe of Old Tappan, Hoboken Department of Recreation’s John ‘Diddles’ McDonald and independent filmmaker Meagan Celeste of Hoboken. Defensemen are software engineer Eric Lonsinger of Hoboken, Insurance Agent Erika Muller of Hoboken, Bayonne Police Officer Tim Calabrese, advertising executive Greg Llewellyn of Jersey City, owner of NDV Service in Bergen County Dan Veccharelli of Hasbrouck Heights, senior transportation engineer at Dewberry Goodkind, Inc. Mathew Seckler of Hoboken and printer Peter Gordon of Woodcliff Lake.
Gordon, 46, played hockey growing up in Toronto, Canada, where “hockey is like Little League here in the States,” he says. Gordon gave up the game when he realized he wasn’t going pro and then picked it up again when he moved to the States. “I love being a part of this team because it’s very close-knit,” Gordon says. “Everyone on the team has a great personality. Nobody puts themselves above the team and everyone likes each other. We’re one of the elite teams and it’s a pleasure to go to play.”
Muller’s hockey teams have always been a diverse group of individuals from many walks of life. Along with police officers, chefs, software engineers and one athlete who went on to play professionally, Muller’s Rockets recruited several doctors to drive the puck. Dr. John Pellicone of Nyack Hospital, Drs. George Ferrone, Dino Carabin and Jerry Rizzo of Hackensack Hospital and Dr. David Henick of Englewood Hospital.
“This team clicks pretty well,” Defenseman Tim Calabrese says. “Everybody says we’re a pretty elite team. We’ve got to be pretty good because we keep winning.”
All the players range in different shapes, sizes, ages, genders, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and like the true American story, everybody gets along, likes each other and respects their skills on the ice and their friendship off the ice. When a player celebrates a birthday, the team will be there to celebrate. And when women – and men – on the team seem to be having a rough time with aggressive players on the ice, the team unites to its mates.
John “Diddles” McDonald, 43, of Hoboken oversees the Hoboken Recreation Department’s roller hockey team and other sports activities for kids and has played Forward for the Rockets for two years. During that time, he has played with the three women on the team, Erika Muller, Meagan Celeste and Sharon Calabrese and he says having women on the team is a good advantage because the three women are not only great skaters, they’re fierce competitors.
“Erika’s a fierce competitor and Meagan and Sharon are tremendous skaters,” McDonald says. “Meagan scores a lot of goals and Sharon sets up a lot of goals. All three women are really talented.”
Right from the beginning, Erika Muller played Defense for the Rockets, proving time and again that she could hold her own when it comes to a face-off with the opposite sex. That holds true for Meagan and Sharon who, with Erika, are testament to the high level of skill Rocket’s women hockey players achieve.
“Playing hockey with men is totally different,” Erika Muller, 44, says. “It’s very competitive and challenging. Men don’t think women belong out there on the ice and a lot of them don’t appreciate you being on the ice with them. When I hit someone, they really don’t like me. Even though I’m a woman, I don’t expect any special treatment.”
In its 20-year history, Muller’s Rockets has won tournaments in Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, and New Jersey and their team rosters have included eight medical doctors and professional roller hockey players Nick Dimoulas, Sonny Kim and Manny Fernandez. New York City police officer Kevin Higgins, brother to Chris Higgins of the Florida Panthers and the first American to score 20 goals for the Montreal Canadians, also played on the team. Ask any Rockets player and they will tell you Muller’s Rockets team spirit gets its inspiration from team captain and founder Roger J. Muller, Jr.’s leadership and passion for the game.
“I believe the team should play well and with a competitive edge,” Muller says. “But most importantly, they should have fun doing it.”
Andrew Beebe remembers the winning night when Muller’s Hoboken Rockets faced-off against the Lions in a close game. The Rockets was down 2-1 and then later in the game, the team made a short-handed goal and a go-ahead goal and held on to the win. It was Beebe who scored the tying goal in the championship game.
“It was pretty exciting,” Beebe says. “We had good team chemistry and scored a lot of goals. That’s because the camaraderie is tight.”
Beebe, 24, is one of the youngest players on the team and he’s extremely optimistic about the team’s performance. He says the Rockets has a pretty strong chance at another season trophy.
“This season we have a good run going,” Beebe says. “It’s a tough road, but I think we’re up for the challenge.”
Jack Lenhart lives in Belleville and works as a geologist, studying rock and contaminates in the soil. He’s also the Center for Muller’s Rockets where he plays defense and offense, covers the front of the net and takes the face-offs. Lenhart’s been playing in Muller’s Rockets Level 8 League for more than a year and he also plays in the Level 6 League. Lenhart says 2010 was a great year for Muller’s Rockets citing the team’s defense and goal-tending for its success.
“Our team has probably the best defense in the Division,” Lenhart, 30, says. “That’s what makes our team great. This season we continue to win because we have great defense and goal-tending.”
Right Wing Meagan Celeste, 29, owns a film production company in Hoboken and plays on Muller’s Rockets with her boyfriend Eric Lonsinger, who plays Defense. The teammates met while students at the University of New Hampshire and joined the team to do fun things together. Meagan enjoys the game because it’s fast-paced and a great stress-reliever. She also likes the team work and friendships she’s created on and off the ice.
“The team’s chemistry is really nice,” Meagan Celeste says. “It’s a good way to stay in shape, but its social, I played on a team where players were out for themselves. This team, we’re all friends on and off the ice. For all of us to have that level of competition it’s so nice to have that friendship as well.”
For more information on Roger Muller’s Rockets teams, go to www.mullerinsurance.com/rockets.