Shining on bigger stage: Spartan hockey players starring on Olympic teams from Jamaica and Ireland

Castleton Spartan hockey player Andrew Stefura hoists the Development Cup after winning the tournament for Team Ireland.

Over thousands of miles away in two different directions are Jamaica and Ireland. 

They are two countries that aren’t known for hockey, however, two current Castleton men’s hockey players and one former member are representing these countries on the national stage.

Current member Romeo Torain and 2022 graduate Jahwara Rennalls both represented Jamaica in Chicago for the Challenger Series in which they played four games, two against Lebanon and two against Puerto Rico, going 3-1. 

“Getting the opportunity to play for Team Jamaica this past weekend was an ultimate surreal experience. Getting the chance to represent Jamaica and play with some of my former teammates and meet new players was something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” Torain said.

This was the first leg of three for the Challenger Series. There are two more legs of the series over the course of the next few months, one in New York City in June and the other in Toronto in July. 

Rennalls has represented Jamaica since his Castleton days, but this was the first opportunity to team up with Torain since the 2021/2022 Spartan season. 

“It was great sharing the ice with Romeo as he made his debut for Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Federation. It’s always special getting to share moments and memories with a former teammate and close friend,” Rennalls said. “He was a great addition to our group and I’m excited for what comes next in New York in June and Toronto in July.”

Castleton hockey player Romeo Torain skates during a recent match for team Jamaica, and poses with former Castleton hockey player Jahwara Rennells.

As Jamaica prepares for the next two legs, the team hopes to make noise in the hockey world as it continues its goal to bring Jamaica to the Olympics by 2026. 

“Being able to represent the Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Federation in Chicago was an amazing experience. Putting on that jersey is always special. Although we went into the tournament with a thin roster, we had a special group of players that came together and proved that Jamaica is coming to make noise in the hockey community,” Rennalls said.

Across the pond, Andrew Stefura similarly was representing his Irish roots in the IIHF Development Cup in Bratislava, Slovakia, where he posted 13 goals and 9 assists through the six-game tournament on route to Ireland winning it all.

“Getting to travel to Slovakia and play hockey was my first hockey experience in Europe. I met an amazing group of teammates and now lifelong friends. Seeing passion for hockey in Ireland was inspiring and eye opening. I hope to continue my journey with the Ireland National team in the future and continue help grow the game in Ireland,” Stefura said

Stefura’s 22 points throughout the tournament put him third in the whole tournament in points behind two of his teammates and ninth in total points all-time for players in the Development Cup history.

This was the junior’s first-time representing Ireland coming off of a Third Team All-NEHC campaign and being named a semi-finalist for the Joe Concannon award which is awarded to the New England’s best American born NCAA Division III hockey player. 

“Representing Ireland was an honor and incredible experience. Putting on the Irish uniform was a thrilling experience. It was an amazing opportunity for my family, teammates, and I to bring home Gold for Ireland,” Stefura said. 

Throughout the tournament, Ireland played the likes of Portugal, Colombia, Argentina, Greece, and Brazil. Eventually beating Portugal in the championship to claim Ireland’s first gold at the Development Cup. 

“To have Romeo and Andrew represent their heritage on a national stage was so awesome for their families, our program, and themselves. It was a pleasure watching them represent Castleton on the international stage and to do so the Castleton way. Both players played excellent hockey and were huge contributors to their respective tournaments. I look forward to coaching both again for their senior year and making it their best one yet,” said Castleton head coach Kyle Richards.

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