Arizona Rubber Magazine - October 2016

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Not only will the Arizona Coyotes benefit having their top affiliate in Tucson, but the American Hockey League’s Roadrunners will also boost hockey in town and provide role models for area youth players



Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

International Hockey Events


5th Annual Orange County, CA Thanksgiving Hockey Festival November 24 - 27, 2016 (no games after 2 PM on Thanksgiving Day) U10 A through U18 - A & AA, High School Varsity & JV divisions

Condorstown Winterfest Outdoor Tournament Series at Bakersfield Memorial Stadium December 21, 2016 - January 7, 2017

Best of West Invitational, Orange County, CA January 13 - 16, 2017

Compete against the top U12 AA, U14 AA & U16 AA competition from the Pacific and Mountain Districts

2017 Orange County, CA Presidents’ Day Hockey Classic February 17 - 20, 2017 U10 thru U18 - AA, A, BB , B, High School Varsity & JV divisions

U8 thru U18- Track 1 & 2, AA, A, BB & B, High School Varsity & JV, Adult divisions

For more information and to register, visit


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

FROM THE EDITOR You know, the start of hockey season is just like December 25th


very year about this time, I have to admit, I still feel like a small boy on Christmas morning. And while the holiday season is still a little while from kicking into full swing (some retail stores will have you believe otherwise), the start of hockey season - youth, high school, junior, college and pro - is enough to make this 38-years-young editor giddy with anticipation. Why not? In a state where hockey continues to grow, gain more and more exposure and see so many success stories come from it, Arizona is on its way to becoming a hockey hotbed. We’ve got the 14U and 15U USA Hockey Matt Mackinder Youth Nationals coming next spring, Scottsdale’s Auston Matthews is a star waiting to be born with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and youth programs continue to see registration numbers rise. And check out our cover – hockey is back in Tucson. Folks, hockey in the desert is here to stay. And that’s a good thing. In one of those feel-good stories that shows how hard work and dedication can pay off, the Arizona Coyotes recognized that recently in Detroit native and Flint Firebirds defenseman Jalen Smereck. Smereck became the first player from the Ontario Hockey League’s Firebirds to sign an NHL contract after agreeing to a three-year, entry-level deal in early October. What makes this an amazing tale is that Smereck was not drafted in the 2015 or 2016 NHL Draft, but earned an invitation to Arizona’s main camp, where he staked his claim to being a future pro. “This is a surreal moment for my family and I,” said Smereck. “This is an opportunity that I don’t take lightly and am very thankful to the entire Arizona Coyotes organization. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I can guarantee that I will work my hardest to get better everyday.” “This is another great example of determination and perseverance by a young man who was a late draft selection into our league and was not picked in the NHL Draft,” added Flint GM George Burnett. Smereck was originally a 15th-round pick of the Oshawa Generals in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection and acquired by Flint this past summer. As hockey keeps booming in Arizona, so does the schedule at the Prescott Valley Event Center. The first major announcement was the first NCAA Division I hockey tournament in Prescott Valley a few months ago as the 2nd Annual Desert Hockey Classic will be hosted at the venue on Dec. 30-31 and will include Arizona State University, the University of Connecticut, Brown University and St. Cloud State University. Recently, eight Northern Arizona University ACHA games and 20 AHSHA high school games were added to the rink’s lineup. “The Event Center has a very bright outlook and there will be more positive announcements in the near future,” said Prescott Valley Event Center director of business and hockey Catfish Athelli. The IceJacks and ASU play on Jan. 27-28. “Memories will be made in these two pivotal games,” said NAU director of hockey operations A.J. Fairchild. “We worked with Catfish last year to put the NAU-ASU weekend together and it was a phenomenal weekend.” The NCAA D-I event will be another major coup for the PVEC. “The thought process in going up to Prescott all started last summer when we went up there for the Sun Devil Caravan,” said Sun Devils coach Greg Powers. “There was a serious appetite from the alumni in Prescott to have us play a game or a series of games there. They have a beautiful facility and feel it is a great opportunity to expose them to Division I college hockey with the Desert Hockey Classic.”

Contact Matt Mackinder at 4

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

Arizona Rubber Magazine is published by: Good Sport Media, Inc., P.O. Box 918 Hermosa Beach, CA 90254, 10 times a year, once monthly September through May and once in the summer. Postmaster: send address changes to: P.O. Box 918 Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

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Scottsdale native Erik Middendorf is making strides this season in Plymouth, Mich., with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s Under-17 Team and two years from now, will join the powerhouse University of Denver squad after recently announcing his commitment to the NCAA Division I school. More on the former Jr. Coyotes standout on Page 7. Photo/Rena Laverty

ON THE COVER Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, IceArizona’s Anthony LeBlanc and Fletcher McCusker of the Rio Nuevo District are just three of the key figures in Tucson responsible for bringing the Roadrunners to the city and to the American Hockey League this season. Photo/Norm Hall Photography

Commitment to DU a dream come true for Middendorf By Greg Ball


2018-19 season to Denver, among the most storied programs in college hockey. The Pioneers have won seven national championships - third only to Michigan and North Dakota - and have produced more than 70 NHL players. Under third-year head coach Jim Montgomery last year, DU went 25-10-6 and advanced to the Frozen Four.

o take a look into the heart and mind of Erik Middendorf, one needs to look no further than his Twitter feed. The 16-year-old former Jr. Coyotes star is a man of few words when it comes to social media, but when he does post, it’s easy to see that hockey is a huge part of his life and that whatever he has taken time out of his busy schedule to share with the world is important to him. On September 19, his first original post in nearly three months checked both boxes. “Excited to announce that I have committed to play college hockey at Denver University. Thank you to close family and “I’ve had friends for the support,” he postmy eye on Denver since I was ed. a little kid,” Middendorf said. Middendorf said it was some“I went to my first college what surreal to type those two hockey game there when I sentences, since it’s been a lifewas 11 years old to see (Arlong dream of his to play hockey izona native) Zac Larraza at the Division I collegiate level. play. I remember sitting there “It gave me goosebumps,” he and thinking that it would be said. “You see people post those a dream to play there. I could types of things all the time, but just feel the excitement and Erik Middendorf you never know what it really feels atmosphere in the building. like until you do it yourself. It feels pretty special com“I started talking to Denver a while ago, and those feelmitting to a great school and knowing where I’ll be in ings came back to me. As soon as they offered, I knew I two years.” couldn’t say no.” The Scottsdale native is expected to report for the Middendorf played for the Jr. Coyotes beginning at

the Mite level, first learning to skate at three or four years old, and completed his tenure with the program by playing with its 16U AAA team last season. “’Middie’ is a quality kid and comes from a quality family,” said Mike DeAngelis, the Jr. Coyotes Elite AAA program director. “His consistent hard work and his being a student of the game has really helped him blossom. He’s on a rocket ship to success because of his great hockey mind and his ability to take instruction.” Middendorf’s hockey career took a giant leap forward this season with his selection to the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in April. The 6-foot, 170-pound left wing packed up his skates and left Pinnacle High School bound for Plymouth, Mich., and has been soaking in everything he possibly can since he arrived. “The main things for us as a team are getting ready for the world challenges and just trying to get better every day,” Middendorf said. “The coaches are helping me out a lot, and I’m trying to incorporate all the little things to help me improve. They have been unbelievable in helping prepare us to play against some bigger, stronger guys.” Middendorf credited his time with the Jr. Coyotes as a major factor in helping him develop into the hockey player and person he is now. “I had a great coach, Shawn McCosh, in my last couple of years there, and he was kind of like a father figure to me,” Middendorf said. “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, and he probably had the biggest impact on my hockey career so far.”


Making a Run

Tucson Roadrunners add to growth of hockey in the desert, will benefit local youth, community By James Kelley


fter a long wait but a quick turnaround, professional hockey is back in Tucson. Coming up on Oct. 28, the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League (AHL) will play their home opener and begin a new era for hockey in the Old Pueblo. Professional hockey hasn’t been in Arizona’s second biggest city since the Scorch shut down less than 24 hours before its first game in 2000. In April, the Arizona Coyotes purchased the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons and in May, the Tucson City Council approved the team’s lease. Then in June, the winner of the name the team contest was unveiled. “It’s been certainly very exciting, very thrilling, but obviously with the time constraints we had, it’s moving at 100 miles per hour full motion,” said Roadrunners president Bob Hoffman. The Mavericks of the Central Hockey League and Icemen of the Southwest Hockey League played in Tucson in the 1970s and the Gila Monsters from the West Coast Hockey League in the 1990s. Roadrunners general manager Doug Soetaert said the previous teams’ failures don’t worry them. “The guys that tried here in the past have been under-financed and haven’t been able to get things going,” Soetaert said. “We’re owned by a National Hockey League team that is looking to enlarge the footprint of hockey in the state of Arizona.” Their logo closely resembles that of the Phoenix Roadrunners, except in the Coyotes’ colors and wearing a sweater that features the NHL team’s logo. In 1967, the Phoenix Roadrunners joined the Western Hockey League. After the league disbanded in 1974, the name continued in the World Hockey Association, the Pacific Hockey League and the International Hockey League until 1997. The Phoenix Roadrunners returned in 2005 in the ECHL and lasted until 2009. “Roadrunners ran away with it,” Hoffman said about the team naming contest. “We weren’t quite sure when we saw that as one of the finalists how that would resonate down in Tucson and in Southern Arizona, but I think that that name is just synonymous with what hockey was and the history is so important to this sport, so I think that even in Southern Arizona, that name really symbolizes the history of hockey here.” Ryan DeJoe, coaching director for the Tucson Youth Hockey Association, said his program’s excitement level is at 10 on a scale of 1-10 about the Roadrunners’ season starting. “Right from day one, the first employee that was down here, made immediate contact with us,” DeJoe said. While the Roadrunners’ home, the Tucson Arena opened in 1971, it underwent a $7.8 million renovation from the Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment district in 2014 and then there was an additional renovation of about $3.7 million in the summer and early fall to bring it up to AHL standards. The Roadrunners are estimated to bring in about $30 million to the local economy. “For us, part of it was that we were looking for a really strong anchor tenant for our recently renovated Tucson Convention Center arena and secondarily we were looking for somebody who we can grow a program with,” said Mark Irvin, Rio Nuevo secretary and vice chair. “We hit a home run with these guys because they sure seem to get it.”

Setting down roots

While past minor league hockey teams have had contentious relationships with the highly successful University of Arizona club hockey team, the Roadrunners have taken a 6

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

different approach. On Oct. 9, the Roadrunners made their public playing debut with the Red-White Scrimmage. The exhibition with the Coyotes was free, with a suggested $5 donation to Wildcat hockey. “The Arizona Coyotes looked at the situation here and just felt that obviously, we’re coming in as a new organization and we’ll be a prominent factor in the community for a long time and they just felt that the proper thing to do was open the doors and take a donation type of game that would benefit university team here,” Soetaert said. “I think it’s a great olive branch of showing people that we’re here long term and we’ll try to help these guys out as much as we can.” Rio Nuevo voted to waive its normal $2-per-person user fee so all the money could go to the Wildcats. There are a few times where the Wildcats and Roadrunners have conflicts as UA only plays home games on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Wildcats have three twogame series and a single game against Northern Arizona that will be at 2 p.m. instead of their usual 7:30 p.m. puck drops as those days the TCC has day-night hockey doubleheaders, with the Roadrunners playing at night. Hoffman, who worked for the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards in Illinois last year, said the Tucson hockey community was bigger than he thought it would be. “From a youth hockey standpoint, we really want to grow that part of it and I think with the Wildcat Youth Hockey organization, they’ve already done some really good things,” Hoffman said. “Ryan DeJoe has got a great program going there to where he’s teaching the sport.” DeJoe said he thinks parents and kids will want to get involved in hockey after seeing the Roadrunners or realize there is youth hockey after seeing WYHA at the games after not realizing it because there isn’t a full-time rink in town. “I think it’s going to be huge, it’s going to raise the profile of hockey throughout the whole city,” DeJoe said.

Go west, young man

Like the Roadrunners name, the Tucson Roadrunners are repeating another successful idea. The Roadrunners continued the trend of NHL teams moving their top affiliates west. Soetaert said Coyotes management can easily come and watch games now that their AHL affiliate is in Tucson and he expects Las Vegas to have an AHL team nearby. Hoffman added the AHL’s westward movement is great for the sport. “It’s not just the boys in Minnesota that are able to get drafted and get college scholarships, it’s people from all over the United States that have that opportunity and I think from what the National Hockey League is doing with the American League movement coming out west, that’s just going to open up time for rinks,” Hoffman said. The Roadrunners’ debut in Tucson continues an upward trend for hockey in the southwest after ASU moved up to the NCAA ranks, Scottsdale native Auston Matthews was picked first in the NHL draft this past June and Las Vegas was awarded an NHL expansion team. “It’s great, to me, hockey is the greatest sport that there is,” said DeJoe, who is from Northeast Ohio. “There’s just nothing like it. Hockey is for every kid, everywhere, and the Southwest is now starting to fully discover what the rest of the country has figured out.” The next step for Tucson hockey is getting a dedicated hockey rink, which the city hasn’t had since the last one closed in 2007. The Roadrunners could help Tucson get a new one. Soetaert said they’re hoping to have more ice sheets in a year or two. “I think there’s really good buzz,” Irvin said. “I’d love to prove how successful this is going to be and I’d love to see us go and build another sheet of ice in Tucson to accommodate what I think is going to be pretty strong demand.”

Dimoff lands at D-I St. Lawrence after season in Europe By Greg Ball


arson Dimoff took the long way from Arizona to upstate New York, but the 17-year-old former Jr. Coyotes standout wouldn’t have it any other way. Dimoff, a left wing from Scottsdale, committed this summer to play his college hockey at St. Lawrence University starting in the fall of 2018. While his upbringing in the Jr. Coyotes program played a big part in his development, he said he also benefited greatly from playing last season in Austria - an unusual move for a 16-year-old. While the route was circuitous, the destination was exactly what he was looking for. Dimoff said he communicated with a number of other programs but ultimately chose St. Lawrence because he felt it was the best fit for him and the place where he could develop the most as a hockey player. “I was really patient with my decision, and I’m honored to be committed to such a historic school,” Dimoff said. “I was just really excited to finally commit. I had offers from other schools, but when I visited St. Lawrence and met the coaching staff, it just seemed like the best place for me.” The Saints play in the highly-competitive ECAC Hockey conference and have appeared in the NCAA tournament 16 times, making nine Frozen Four appearances, but none since 2000. The 201617 season will be their first under head coach Mark Morris, who was at the helm of a highly-successful Clarkson program from 1988-2002. “I really like Coach Morris, and I also met with (assistant coach) Matt Deschamps, who I have some history with,” explained Dimoff. “I played for

his team in Austria, and that made me feel really “I worked with a lot of great coaches in that orcomfortable with the coaching staff there and made ganization, and it’s a real big part of why I am where me confident that I’ll be successful at St. Lawrence.” I am today,” he said. “The time that they put into Dimoff’s youth hockey career began with the Jr. developing their players definitely shows.” Coyotes when he was five years old, and he skated Mike DeAngelis, the Jr. Coyotes Elite AAA with them until he was 15. program director, said it’s Then an opportunity arose extremely rewarding to see for him and Jr. Coyotes players like Dimoff excel at teammate Ryan Savage higher levels. to play for a junior team in “We’re pretty thrilled, Salzburg, Austria, and after and we want to increase the careful consideration, he number of kids that we’re decided it would be a good able to have move on,” move. DeAngelis said. “I remem“They were very profesber Carson when he first sional about it and gave started skating, and he has me time and space to think really taken off as a player.” about it,” Dimoff recalled Dimoff is eager to conof the big move. “I’m really tinue improving as a hockey grateful - it changed my life player in the NAHL this year completely.” and down the road with the The season in Austria Saints. was a pivotal one and “I always try to be the helped him advance to play hardest worker on the ice,” this season for the North he said. “Maybe I’m not the American Hockey League’s most skilled player, but I’m (NAHL) Aberdeen Wings always going to try to out- for whom he had regiswork the guy next to me. I tered one goal and an as- Scottsdale native Carson Dimoff played in Austria in also want to lead by examsist through their first five 2015-16 before landing a roster spot this season with the ple on the ice - backcheckgames. He said he wouldn’t Aberdeen Wings of the North American Hockey League. ing, forechecking, working be where he is today if not Photo/NAHL hard. Doing things like befor everything he learned in the Jr. Coyotes pro- ing aware of the coaches’ strategy and system are gram, however. also important.”



Volunteers the engine that runs Arizona Hockey Union few. The AHU also has volunteers managing equipment manufacturers and vendors to ensure the highest s with most youth hockey organizations, the Ari- quality and safest equipment is available to their playzona Hockey Union (AHU) relies upon their large ers, and the list goes on and on. Those are the dedigroup of team volunteers to keep things running cated day-to-day volunteers and their tireless efforts are the engine that keeps the club smoothly. running. Their volunteers share not only The Union’s Tournament Coma passion for the game of hockey mittee is their largest volunteer but also a love for generously helpgroup and they volunteer hundreds ing others. Most of the volunteer of hours coordinating each tournastaff works behind the scenes and ment, working with local and naare often not recognized. Howevtional partners, coordinating with er, they are absolutely essential to local hotels and neighboring rinks. the success of the AHU. Coaches They are also dedicated to working and team managers are just the with each participating team to entip of the iceberg when it comes sure they have a great experience to the number of volunteers necwhile attending events that the essary to keep the organization thriving. AHU hosts. All of this leads up to “The reason that I choose to the weekend of the event, during get involved is for my child,” said which dozens of volunteers put in Keri Poulios. “His passion is long days and sometimes over a hockey, so I want to help out and Jeff Tenboer is one of the many volunteers the combined 1,000 volunteer hours be involved with him and for him. I Arizona Hockey Union leans on to make each to ensure success. It all pays off love being involved and getting to season run smoothly, both during games and when the players, parents, and events and behind the scenes. know all of the players.” coaches are having a great time What often goes unrecognized are the dozens of and everything runs smoothly. volunteers managing the ice time for all of the AHU Some people may think, “Why volunteer? It sure teams, the team budgets, website updates, schedule seems like a lot of work?” Well, volunteering is a great updates and social media channels, just to name a way to get more involved with each family’s children,

By Jason Prentice


team, club, and community. It’s clear that hockey is a game and it is meant to be fun, and volunteers have a lot of fun, too. It may be during an evening of equipment sorting or a fundraiser at the local pizzeria, but the AHU volunteers are always laughing and smiling because they love helping, seeing others happy, and having fun. It is also a great way to meet other parents and hockey enthusiasts in your community and not to mention, you’ll probably learn a lot. As a volunteer, you get to sort of peek behind the curtain and learn a bit more about what makes everything tick, what’s on the horizon and why things are the way they are. “I enjoy being able to be involved with the team every day,” explained Amber Sliwinski. “It provides me the opportunity to learn about Arizona Hockey Union and hockey. I love that AHU is a nonprofit organization. I know that the money I put into the organization goes to better the team and the kids.” That said, are you ready to start volunteering? Clubs are always looking for volunteers and although you may not have the time to join committees, but even if you can spare a few hours occasionally, your local club would love your help. If you are interested in getting more involved just ask around, it won’t take long to find a volunteer and ask, “How can I help”? and then start having fun. The AHU is truly grateful for all of the time their great volunteers spend, often times late at night and on the weekends behind the scenes keeping everything running smoothly.

Knights add European culture with trio of overseas players By Matt Mackinder


or the Phoenix Knights of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL), adding a dash of Europe to the roster this season is a situation the club hopes propel the Knights into the Thorne Cup Playoffs next spring. Goaltenders Marcus Nylander (Finland) and Tim Zurbuchen (Switzerland) join forward Marcel Hack (Austria) in the desert this season. All three have previously played AAA or juniors in the United States. And all three want to see the Knights succeed. “My main reason to come here is to prepare and show myself for college hockey,” said Zurbuchen. “My brother is a U.S. citizen, so I have been in the U.S prior to this year. I don’t really have too much to adjust to, but the few small cultural differences are easy to overcome as people are super friendly over here.” Hack said he’s ready for the off-ice experiences that await him in Phoenix. “European culture is becoming more and more Americanized and I don’t think that there are too many differences between the two,” said Hack. “However, due to me being European, I am obviously excited to experience the American culture and learn more about it. I always look to improve myself as a hockey player, but I also try my best to improve as a person in general. I believe that if you are not willing to improve as a person, you will never achieve your other goals in life.” For Nylander, the adjustments have been a bit more complex. “The culture is a lot different from Finland – the climate is very different from the hot and dry Arizona to cold and freezing Finland, and the food, of course, has been a big change. I think I’m a very adaptive person, so the cultural differences haven’t been a problem to me. “I am very happy that I came here, and I think this will be a great place for me to develop as a goaltender and a person.” 8

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY Early schedule yields gratifying wins for IceJacks’ D-II team

By James Kelley


he Northern Arizona University ACHA Division II team opened the season with a 3-3 record, mainly against top-level competition. The IceJacks opened the season with a 5-1 win over the Western States Hockey League’s (WSHL) Phoenix Knights and then lost a 4-2 heartbreaker to ACHA Division I No. 15 Arizona before beating a top team from their division, Utah State, 3-1. “We started out with a really tough schedule,” said NAU director of hockey operations A.J. Fairchild. “It does help us playing against better competition – all the guys get better and we learn our strengths and weaknesses and it gives us something to work on early in the year.” The IceJacks rebounded from the loss to the Wildcats with a 20-2 win over the WSHL’s Arizona Hawks. Then at Arizona, NAU lost the series opener 8-3, but it was 3-2 during the second intermission, and then lost the second game 4-1. NAU Division II coach Travis Johanson said a lot of players have been impressive, especially freshmen Miles Lengyel and Rayce Miller. “All our returners, we expect them to jump in and assume big roles that were left over last year with guys that graduated,” Johanson said. “With new guys coming in, we got a good group of new kids that have come in this year and I’m pretty impressed with all of them.” On Oct. 21, NAU plays Cal Lutheran, their first series of the season at the Prescott Valley Event Center. They’ll play six games at the former home of the Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League, including four in a row in October. NAU debuted new uniforms this season, including a well-received gold sweater that saw action in the Hawks game. “Everybody loved them, you could see the smiles on all the guys’ faces,” Fairchild said. “We want to bring them out on special occasions, like playing ASU and our top rivals in Division II going forward.”


How to keep fun, smiling faces, palpable energy in hockey O

ften times, you hear the rumor mills churning amongst a team’s fans and media as their team labors through a mid-season slump. Everyone says, “This team needs to trade for some goal scorers.” However, more times Goar than not, they already have plenty of goal scorers, even several who have scored in playoff games, just not many who get 40-50 during the regular season. Superstar goal scorers are not as important in the playoffs as scoring by committee – everyone believing they can score as well as fulfill responsibilities in other areas of the rink. Sometimes a little shakeup in the lineup or staff/personnel moves can go a long way to wake individuals up. Other times, the scent of the playoffs sparks new motivation in players who have slipped into a lull. Some of those changes can cause a team to surge, prompting the same reporters and fans to rave about

newfound goal production, yet there had been no trades to bring in scorers. What really has changed to make the team perform better? Was it simply a new voice in the locker room? Was it the idle threat that everyone is playing for their jobs? Was it a new approach to the game? Often times, the change comes from something simple: smiling faces. Energy that is palpable. And “FUN” as expressed by every player and coach during interviews, practices, games and training sessions. “Freedom to make offensive plays,” players claim. “It’s fun. We’re all responsible on defense, but the big thing is we feel free to try things on offense.” it’s an ongoing trend whereas generations change, boundaries and restrictions are not as acceptable and respected as they were in generations past. The new athlete thrives on creativity with the structured and disciplined athletes being the exception. It is conventional “wisdom” of recent years that asserts creative offense and solid defense are mutually exclusive, ruling out offensive playmaking that risks a turnover. Football coaches believe dozens of repetitions will reduce that risk. Hockey coaches reduce offensive creativity and say, “Keep it simple. Dump the puck.” When the intrinsic fun of creating “hockey plays” (an expression used by retired legendary Boston University coach Jack Parker) – when that fun is removed – goal scoring is reduced, wins are harder to come by,

video sessions become counterproductive, mistakes are exaggerated, confidence is eroded, practices are drudgery and players are disengaged. That is how mid-season slumps grow. It’s not the word “December” that produces losing streaks. It’s the erosion of FUN – often by coaches who emphasize mistakes. Hall of Fame coach Bob Johnson was successful because he always found great effort and skill, even in the worst losses. He’d walk into the next morning meeting armed with highlight video of their best plays and declare, “It’s a great day for hockey.” The result? No slumps. In youth hockey, it’s devastating to eliminate fun with the puck – it’s the end of development. Fun does not require a soccer game on the ice to replace practice. Hockey itself is the most exciting, fun game in the world, but only if the joy of puck control and playmaking are encouraged by coaches. Forechecking and backchecking alone won’t do it. They’re important and self-rewarding, but they’re not the main source of FUN. It’s the puck. That’s where fun starts. Coaches steal that fun when they insist on total control – handing the puck over to the other team when you get to center ice. After all, it’s that next half of the ice that triggers the imagination. Highlight goals are in the dreams of every kid – and that includes those kids with beards in the NHL. The best coaches and parents understand that fun comes before goal scoring.

Kurt Goar is Arizona Hockey Union’s coach-in-chief.



Jr. Sun Devils see ‘great honor’ in hosting Mite Jamboree By Matt Mackinder


ave the date – Saturday, Oct. 29 at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. On that day from 7 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., the Desert Youth Hockey Association (DYHA) will host a Mite Jamboree event with approximately 200 players taking the ice in 4-on-4, cross-ice games with each participating team playing three consecutive 18-minute games. Keeping with the theme of the season, the event is being labeled as the “Hat-Trick or Treat Mite Jamboree.” The Jr. Sun Devils staff is amped up to host this prestigious Arizona Amateur Hockey Association (AAHA) event, which will also have appearances from the Arizona Coyotes’ mascot, Howler, and Sparky from Arizona State University. “It is a great honor for DYHA to host this Jamboree as it allows the entire 8U hockey community to come together on one weekend to celebrate the game we all love,” said DYHA Mite Minor and Mite Major head coach Kayman Wong. “It really helps promote the sport to so many families and kids. Hockey in the Valley of the Sun is growing and the Jamborees are a great way to showcase and celebrate it. “We focus on two things with our kids – skill development and growing their love of the game. When it comes to the Jamboree, it is a great opportunity for the kids to learn good sportsmanship, their competitive spirit and they all love to see how their skill compares to

and continues to motivate to pass on our passion for other kids in the state.” Off the ice, DYHA will have a specialty coffee food the sport onto future generations.” truck called The Traveling Cup to help the parents with Both of the Mite teams’ managers, Tracy Blades the early-morning wakeup call. The Vue/The Hub are (Major) and Jill Andersen (Minor), see the Jamboree the sponsors for the sling bag souvenirs and DYHA has as contributing to the continued growth of the game at the youngest level. also aligned with Spokes on South“I love how all the teams come ern for an after party so families have together for a great day of fun,” said a great place to gather after the JamBlades. “Many of our players started boree for lunch with 20 percent of the out in one program or another. Some proceeds going back to the may still be with the originating orgaJr. Sun Devils. There is also nization and others may have moved going to be a St. Mary’s food drive with all donating paronto another, yet no matter what orgaties going into a drawing nization one might be with, we all come together as a cohesive Arizona hockey for a voucher for four family to support our kids and their love lower-level tickets to of the game. a Coyotes regular-sea“These events teach life lessons, to son home game. come together and work as a team and C o y o t e s supporting one another on and off ice. signed memoIt is about sportsmanship with respect rabilia and another voucher for tickets will also be The Desert Youth Hockey Associ- of your coaches, teammates and oppart of the event’s raffle. ation Mite Minor team is all smiles posing team members, but most of all “These Jamborees provide an envi- before a recent Mite Jamboree event about having fun and getting out there, ronment where teams and/or individual at AZ Ice Peoria. Photo/Jill Andersen trying your best at something you love players can test the waters to how they have come to to do.” develop thus far,” noted DYHA Mite assistant coach “The Jamborees are a wonderful way to connect Shon Hata. “We hope everyone can continue to em- with other hockey teams and hockey families,” added brace how we come to love, be passionate, and reflect Andersen. “It is exciting to travel to other rinks and feel on the positive memories that keep us thirsty for more pride in our team and our program.”


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THE WHYTE STUFF In sports and life, know that attitude and effort are everything I r e c e n t l y had a player come to me after practice to apologize for his lack of effort this season. He is an excellent player and has great potential to not only make it far in hockey, but also Whyte succeed in life. I thanked him for his honesty and asked why he thought he was not giving everything he had. His response was valid, in the sense he felt he should be playing at a higher level and he got passed over for reasons beyond his control. I couldn’t disagree with him, so instead I helped shed some light on his position. I conveyed to him a similar story that involved me back in my playing days. While with the Phoenix Roadrunners (then an LA Kings farm team), I worked very hard every day to get the chance to play in the NHL. Finally, that time came and I made it to the show. During

my stay in LA, I did what I was told and worked my butt off every chance I got. Eventually, I was sent back to Phoenix, with the message from the coach that I would be called back up. That never happened, and in fact the next season, I found myself playing even further in the minors. I was devastated and furious, not to mention dumbfounded on how I could be playing on a team with Wayne Gretzky one season, and the next qualifying for food stamps. The year before, not only did my agent tell me Los Angeles wanted to renew my contract, but that he had been contacted by three other NHL teams that wanted to sign me. Needless to say, my attitude went into a tailspin and my effort was just enough to get by. The first seven games of that season, I had a whopping one assist, and while traveling back to our hometown, I did some serious soul searching. I was in such a deep pity party that I didn’t even realize how poorly I was playing. Although not quite an epiphany, while staring out of the bus window into the darkness, I came to the realization the only one that was going to change my situation was me. I had to deal with the now, and pull myself back to a place I knew I belonged. With a new attitude and a rejuvenated pas-

sion, I scored 42 goals in the next 43 games, and was called up to the Quebec Nordiques farm team to finish the season. I scored eight more there and finished strong. There will be times in life where those around you don’t believe in you, or don’t feel you have what it takes to succeed. It can be damaging to your soul and your self-esteem. It is then that you must discover the greater power from within to prove them wrong, and more importantly, prove you right. In sports and in life, attitude and effort mean everything. I wrote the following quote many years ago, and just recently came across it. I feel that it is quite fitting for the given situation: “The most powerful word in the English language is ‘TRY.’ If you try, you face your fears. If you try, you might be amazed at what you can accomplish. If you try, you may fail; but try again. Only with loss will you find growth. Only with growth will you find happiness.” Even though I knew this player was struggling, I also knew he needed to come to his own realization on his own time. A coach, a parent, or even a teammate can point out to someone they aren’t giving their all, but until they own their actions, it will have little effect. Once they do, their potential is endless.

Sean Whyte is the director of hockey operations and coach-in-chief at DYHA.



Tahoe Hockey Academy ‘ecstatic’ to get season started By Greg Ball


fter months and months of planning, the doors finally opened at Tahoe Hockey Academy last month, and things finally started to seem real when the academy played its first games in late September. Donning its purple and white uniforms for the first time, the team traveled to Winnipeg the last weekend in September and opened their inaugural season in the first WPHL showcase against some of the top teams from the Western United States and Canada. “It was exciting for the boys, and all our hard work was worth it when we saw how excited they were,” said Leo Fenn, the academy’s president and chief operating officer. “Their desire to compete after having spent only three weeks together training was absolutely amazing. It was incredible to see them compete at that level, and it only inspires us to get better at the Academy and provide an even greater experience with greater opportunities for development for these kids.” The team opened its inaugural season with a win Sept. 30, beating Fountain Valley 5-4 in overtime. Tahoe led 2-0 after the first period and 3-0 after the second. They extended their lead to 4-0 in third, but Fountain Valley rallied and tied the game with seven seconds left in regulation. Forward Eric Larsson scored on an assist from Riley Fenn with 1:36 left in overtime to lift Tahoe to its first victory. Larsson totaled two goals in the victory, Jared Shuter scored a goal and Shane Gilbert also

scored. Jack Birecki scored the team’s first goal, walking in on a 1-on-2 and blasting a shot in from just inside the blue line past the goalie only six minutes into the game. Alan Garcia added two assists. On Oct. 1, Tahoe fell to SISEC, an international hockey academy out of Calgary, 4-1. Gilbert scored the team’s only goal, assisted by Jack Tuszynski and Matt Odom. Later that day, Tahoe fell to the Pilot Mound Buffaloes, the host team, in a very physical game by a 6-3 mark. Larsson scored two goals in the defeat and Shuter added another. Zach Dill had an assist, as did Zack Savarise. With a very short turnaround time between games, Tahoe was without three players against Pilot Mound. “The highlight for me was really the heart that this team showed,” Fenn said. “We have 20 guys that have never played together before, from different parts of the country, and in our second game, we had 26 shots blocked. That’s an amazing figure, and in the other games, they were averaging 15-16 blocked shots. These kids were diving to block shots - it’s really amazing how they battled together and refused to give up. The inspiration and the heart that these kids play with is contagious.


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We’re very excited about an incredible first effort for a very young team.” More than half the team’s roster is freshmen, so Fenn knows there is room to grow as the season goes on and into future seasons. Tahoe is scheduled to open its Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) schedule the weekend of Oct. 15-16 with games in Orange County against JSerra and Santa Margarita. The following weekend, they’ll travel west a few hours to the Bay Area for league games against Bellarmine and Orange Lutheran. And the first weekend in November, Tahoe will fly to Chicago to compete in the prestigious Bauer World Hockey Invitational, where they will face teams from all across the United States. “We’re ecstatic about it,” Fenn said. “The first weekend exceeded all our expectations, and now we’re really excited to go play in the ADHSHL and to compete in some great tournaments. The boys were thrilled to get their uniforms and equipment, and it’s really coming together. “It’s great to see the culture developing at Tahoe Hockey Academy.”


CAHA weekend AAA showcases all about growing the game By Matt Mackinder


ot only is the Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) growing each year, but as that happens, Arizona becomes a prominent destination to host top-level youth tournaments. Case in point – this 2016-17 season, the Jr. Coyotes will bring in a plethora of high-level AAA teams from the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) to the Ice Den Scottsdale and Ice Den Chandler for weekend showcase tournaments. The first one is slated for Oct. 21-23 in Scottsdale with 16U and 18U teams coming to town. “This is the ninth year that we have been hosting these incredible Tier 1 Elite League events,” said Jr. Coyotes Elite AAA program director Mike DeAngelis. “Some say they enjoy travelling to Phoenix for the weather, but typically they realize that there is limited time to do much else than play high-level games. We completely organize the tournament from setting schedules, overseeing all game operations and recruiting the out-of-state junior and college scout presence that is here each year.” DeAngelis added that the showcases run smoothly and are well-received by the scouts that make the trek to the desert. “This national level of AAA hockey is a privilege for our association to host,” explained DeAngelis. “Just elite-level players developing their skills and showcasing in front of scouts. We have never had any trouble with having a strong number of scouts from all major junior

and college leagues in attendance. Our communication with them year-round is excellent and they are always wanting to make the effort to see top level Midget AAA players from the Southwest. It has grown over time and we have a ton of repeat visitors who are always complimentary to the way the program runs the event.” CAHA executive director Kristy Aguirre works alongside DeAngelis in creating “a welcoming environment where everyone can relax and prepare for the onice matchups.” “Arizona is always a desirable location for these teams year round,” said Aguirre. “Oftentimes, these weekends are scheduled with our divisional teams that travel short distances, but sometimes we host programs from across the country and they love coming to Arizona where they can sit outside in between periods and bask in our warm sunshine. Maybe a golf game or two, swimming at the local hotels, things like that. “Hockey in Arizona has been magnified in recent months, even the last year or two. We, as a state, are producing more and more top-level players who are exiting our program and stepping into the ranks of the high-level junior programs and advancing into the collegiate routes through commitments. More and more eyes are focused on Arizona and it’s our job to continue to develop players to the highest skill level possible. The Tier 1 Elite League and all visiting teams to these weekends help us to raise the bar on our expectations of our players.” Next January, the Ice Den Scottsdale will play host to

20 Pee Wee and Bantam teams that will play over 50 games over a three-day weekend. Three other events run in October and one other in December. “Our expectations for these weekends are to provide opportunities for teams to come to our local rink to compete with our teams,” Aguirre said. “We expect our teams will perform and will be great hosts. I am most looking forward to the team interactions and watching great hockey.”

Jr. Coyotes Elite AAA WEEKEND TOURNAMENTS All events at Ice Den Scottsdale unless noted

Oct. 21-23 | Midget 16U, Midget 18U

Tier 1 Elite Western Division (8 teams/16 games)

Oct. 28-30 | Midget 15U

Tier 1 Elite West vs. Rocky Mountain Division (6 teams/15 games)

Oct. 28-30 | Bantam 14U

(6 teams/15 games) – at Ice Den Chandler

Dec. 2-4 | Midget 16U, Midget 18U

Tier 1 Elite West vs. Rocky Mountain (16 teams/32 games)

Jan. 14-16 | Bantam 13U, Pee Wee 12U, Pee Wee 11U Tier 1 Elite Tournament (20 teams/50 games) WITH TWO CONVENIENT LOCATIONS LOCATED INSIDE THE ICE DENS 7225 W Harrison Street Chandler, AZ 85226

9375 E Bell Road Scottsdale, AZ 85260

S D N A R B P O T M O R F L E R & APPA Featuring specialty items including new and used Arizona Coyotes Pro Stock sticks, pants, and gloves at select times during the season. Come shop our wide-selection of officially licensed NHL Arizona Coyotes and league merchandise.


At the Starting Line

Arizona teams set to roll out for another competitive WCRHL season Hot wheels

an effort to, in Boyarsky’s words, “get his feet wet in preparation for taking on the lead goaltender he Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League role in years to come.” (WCRHL) faces off its 2016-17 season with three “We’ll be looking at a much stronger and teams based in Arizona: Arizona State University (Division potentially deeper offensive group to add to what I), University of Arizona (Division II) and newcomer is already one of the strongest defensive groups in Northern Arizona University (Division II). the WCHRL,” Boyarsky explained. “This is a year for us where we feel we’ve come to the season stronger that the past few years and are entering Record-setters a year where many of the other WCRHL Division The University of Arizona made history last season I teams have graduated key players that should by winning the program’s first WCRHL regional give them a much harder route to (score) wins.” championship. After graduating a large number of players The Wildcats are back this season to defend their from the club’s Maroon and Black Division III Division II title – and are looking to achieve even more teams, Boyarsky said the program has pared success at the National Collegiate Roller Hockey its Division III squad to “one lean and mean Association (NCRHA) national championship team” for the 2016-17 season. tournament. Returning players Kyle Friedman, “I have a great feeling for both our teams this Austin Lofkin, Chris Lombardo and Clint season,” Arizona club president Jesse Rooney Tapsell will look to last season’s leading explained. “The depth is there as well as the scorer Zach Kenyon, who notched 59 skill for both our teams to be successful in their points in the regular season with the ASU respective divisions. Black team, for continued leadership. The “Our Division II team did not lose a player this combined ASU squad aims to remain atop season -- key returners include Dan Holmes the WCRHL division standings. and Matt Duffy. So with the addition of a few Five incoming players to the program skaters – Jacob Toro, Taylor Knight and Jared comprise the rest of the roster, including Johnson -- we feel our team is a little more wellScottsdale native Shaun MacDonald and rounded. freshman Clay Heinze, whose brother, Will “Our Division III team is as deep as it’s ever Heinze, was a four-year staple and impact been; there is a lot of talent on the roster as players player on the Division I team from 2009-13. will be looking to improve the team dynamic this The 2016-17 goaltending duo combines season. I think both teams have similar goals the best of both the ASU Black and Maroon – make a run to the national championship Members of last season’s history-making University of Arizona inline hockey teams from last season in Eddie Cini and tournament and perform well at regionals.” Arizona’s Division II team roster also includes team raise the program’s first-ever Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League Matt Campbell, respectively. championship trophy. Photo/University of Arizona Roller Hockey “The ASU Division III Black team David Santos, Blake Wofford, Ross Wofford, by a strong incoming group that includes Jakob has had a number of seasons where it had a John Gallo and Brett Bushnell. legitimate chance at contending for a national Arizona finished 11-5 in regular season play in Romo, Ian Bast and Cy Jewel. Senior forward Eric Bautista moves up to championship,” Boyarsky noted. “This season’s 2015-16, but ran the table with a perfect 4-0 record the Division I team from the program’s Division team, with the right amount of work and some to capture the Division II regional title. The Wildcats’ Division III team roster includes III squad where he had developed over the past much hoped for chemistry, could very well see Johnson, Cameron Kurz, Bryan Kromenacker, three seasons. itself in that position again.” Scottsdale native Aaron Gittings has proven Alex Parrish, T.J. Frankel, Colin Pancrazi, Clay The WCRHL season faces off Oct. 22-23 in San Pancrazi, Chase Pancrazi, Jake Bruck, Eusten to be one of the top goaltenders in his birth year Jose. NAU enters the season under the guidance Benedict, Chris Zimmer and Chris Faulk Jr. The in the sport over the past six years while playing of Trevor Riffey, a member of Team USA’s junior team finished 12-4 in the regular season, but 0-3 at youth hockey. The freshman will play alongside men’s national team that competed at the 2013 returning senior goaltender Braxton Schulz in FIRS Inline Hockey World Championships. regionals in 2015-16. By Phillip Brents

ASU finished Division I regular season play last season with a 13-1-2 record, but dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to eventual NCRHA runnerup University of Nevada-Las Vegas in last year’s regional semifinals. Seniors Ryan Cotton and Travis Ringman lead a strong defensive core on ASU’s 201617 squad with sophomores Trevor Weinstock, Aryeh Richter and Jayme Haveman contributing to a deep bench on defense, according to ASU coach Nick Boyarsky. The already strong returning offensive tandem of Wes Fry and Stetson Dirks will be joined


Gittings brings star-spangled youth career to Sun Devils A

rizona continues to produce outstanding talent in amateur inline hockey on a yearly basis. Scottsdale’s Aaron Gittings’ name has been near the top of the list for the past several years. He is now ready to take the step to the next level as a freshman at Arizona State University. He appears up to the challenge after netting five top goaltender awards in 2015-16 at major regional and national tournaments. Gittings captured top goaltender honors in two divisions at the 2016 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) West Coast Nationals held over Memorial Day weekend at The Rinks-Corona Inline. He also collected three outstanding goaltender awards during NARCh regional qualifiers this past season with the Arizona-based Konixx Outcasts. At the West Coast Nationals event, Gittings posted a .911 save percentage for the HB Militia 14

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(Midget AAA) and a .900 save percentage for the tournament. CAZ Stars (Junior Division). The Militia captured the “I will be hoping to crack the Division I roller gold medal in its division while the hockey roster at ASU this year,” CAZ Stars placed runner-up. said Gittings, who emulates It was the first time that Gittings Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marchad won two top goaltender Andre Fleury. “My favorite thing awards in the same tournament. about roller hockey is the laid back He then posted a sizzling .974 and great atmosphere and seeing save percentage at April’s NARCh kids of all ages come together to Irvine regional. play such a great game.” ASU finished runner-up in So what is Gittings’ biggest the Western Collegiate Roller rush playing the goaltender Hockey League’s (WCRHL) position? rugged Division I standings last “Making big saves at important season with a 13-1-2 record Scottsdale’s Aaron Gittings is making the times in the game,” he said and advanced to last April’s jump to collegiate roller hockey with ASU’s succinctly. National Collegiate Roller Hockey Division I team this season. Photo/NARCh Association (NCRHA) national championship - Phillip Brents


Rolling on: Jr. Wildcats, Knighthawks vital cogs in IHAAZ By Brian Lester


rik Dahl recalls the humble beginnings of the AZ Jr. Wildcats, which is now on track to host its first IHAAZ festival in 2018. It’s been a long time coming, said Dahl, the president of the Jr. Wildcats. “Our program started as the Tucson Indoor Sports Center house league,” said Dahl. “My wife and I got the non-profit part set up and created the AZ Jr. Wildcats to continue on what coach David Sticker had started to put together in an attempt to get the travel part going.” Like the Jr. Wildcats, the Knighthawks are also on track to host a festival in two years. Both programs have been accepted as probationary Inline Hockey Association of Arizona (IHAAZ) executive board members this season. Once they have cleared the probationary period, they can host their own festivals. “This is our second year and we have more interest this year than last,” said Brent Proud, the president of the Knighthawks. “A big testament to that is that we have been working with the awesome staff at the Peoria Sportsplex to grow the game in the valley. They have a Saturday morning rec league that is getting players involved in roller (hockey) and the Knighthawks are helping them grow it.” The Knighthawks will have five teams competing in the league in 2017, including a 12U girls team. There will also be 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U boys teams. Tatum Proud, a seven-year IHAAZ veteran, is excit-

house, the 14U coach, noted that the efforts of coached about the year ahead. “I think the game is growing and it is so awesome to es and former players played a big role in the rise of the have a team of all girls that have the same interests as Knighthawks. me,” Proud said. “I know all of the girls on our team love “The early success of the Knighthawks is due to a group of former players and coaches coming together the game of roller hockey and we are excited.” with one common goal, which is For the Jr. Wildcats, this will to grow the game of hockey localmark their third travel season. The ly and to provide a safe, fun and program will feature 8U, 10U, 12U academic approach to the game,” once again. A 14U team has been Woodhouse said. “In the end, added as well. hockey is the greatest game in the “We had a lot of success last world.” season, with two of our three teams winning the state championship and Both Proud and Dahl are thrilled our 10U team taking second,” Dahl with how far their respective programs have come and believe the said. “I expect most of our teams to futures of both will only get brighter, be very competitive.” particularly with the opportunity to Dahl said much of the credit for host a festival down the road. the Jr. Wildcats’ success belongs “We’re very proud of what to Sticker and fellow coach Jerewe’ve built,” Dahl said. “We are my Hiltabidel. Two more coaches very fortunate to have the Tucson will be added this year, including a Indoor Sports Center here to pracgoalie from the University of Arizona inline team. Knighthawks 14U players Zakery Proud (left) and tice and play in year-round, and the Dahl noted the families have also Conor Leonard are part of the growing number of owner of the rink is incredibly suphelped spark the program’s growth. players in the Inline Hockey Association of Arizona. portive of our program.” “The parents in our club have been very supportive Proud had similar thoughts. and have spread the word and grow the club,” Dahl said. “Having a festival down the road would be huge,” “We have truly grown from a large group of individuals to Proud said. “It will give the Knighthawks an opportunity a close-knit group of friends.” to showcase what IHAAZ really is by promoting it and our Family also matters to the Knighthawks. Sean Wood- home rink.”



NAPHL the perfect fit for Bobcats’ 16U and 18U AAA teams By Greg Ball


t would be a vast understatement to say that the Midget years constitute the most important time in a promising young hockey player’s career. Because so much is on the line as players fine-tune their skills and look to catch the eyes of junior and college coaches, top programs like the VOSHA Bobcats are extremely selective about the leagues they choose for their 16U and 18U teams. The Bobcats, just getting underway with their third season for their two squads in the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), feel they have found the perfect fit. Pat Mahan, Brent Gough and Pat Conacher serve as co-head coaches for both teams, with the program’s hockey director, Ron Filion, overseeing both squads, and they couldn’t be happier with what the premier league offers in terms of competitiveness and exposure for their players. “The level of competition is excellent, and there’s true parity in the league - every game is competitive whether we’re winning or losing,” Mahan said. Bobcats coaches also praised the level of professionalism offered by the league, which has 19 teams spread out across the country. Games are scheduled in such a way to maximize what teams get out of each time they travel, with many teams required to make only five flights in an average season. Parents can watch all

games live via the league’s website (, and coaches can view archived games on demand to use as a coaching tool or to scout an upcoming opponent. Beyond the convenience factor, the NAPHL’s biggest selling point for the Bobcats is the exposure that the league provides for its players. With a direct connection to the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the junior league tenders contracts to at least two players from the NAPHL each season. And during a typical weekend, NAPHL games often draw

hundreds of scouts from junior and college programs looking for the next wave of talent to fill their rosters. “You can’t help but see them,” Mahan said. “At some of the games, there are as many scouts as there are parents in the stands. “Not only are there scouts there, but they have an internal scouting system where they rank the league’s


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top players and have an all-star game for scouts to come and see the best guys.” Added Gough: “The biggest thing for me is the cohesiveness between the NAHPL and the NAHL. There’s really no other league like it out there. It gives our players an opportunity to make that jump to junior hockey and maybe puts them a step ahead of some other guys.” Being based in Arizona, there isn’t yet the volume of AAA-quality players that exists in some of the traditional hockey markets, so the Bobcats are happy to have the opportunity to compete against some long-established programs that are considered among the best in the country. “When you’re playing against Meijer, Madison Capitols, Shattuck-St. Mary’s and teams like that every weekend, it really tests your guys every time they go out on the ice,” Gough said. Mahan said the Bobcats staff sits down each offseason and evaluates where their players and teams fit best. In previous years, they had played in the High Performance Hockey League (HPHL). “We’ve played in some other leagues, but we have come back and settled on the NAPHL because it just makes the most sense for us,” Mahan said. “Our guys at this level are looking to play juniors and play in college. Ron and I, and all the guys in our program, do everything we can to provide exposure for our players, but we could never in a million years give them the exposure that this league does.”


Mission AZ proud of its proficiency-producing captains By Greg Ball


here’s a unique structure to the program at Mission Arizona hockey, and it is producing some amazing results. While win-loss records vary from season to season, Jeremy Goltz, the program’s director of hockey operations, is bullish on Mission’s ability to develop quality players and people. The proof, he says, is in the fact that Mission AZ has produced 17 players who have gone on to become captains or assistant captains of their college or junior teams. “That’s almost a third of the 50 players in our Hall of Fame and obviously, we’re very proud of that,” Goltz said. “It’s not happening by accident. It’s one of the things that we really try to stress with our guys.” Currently, Scott Farr and Marcus Velasco are captains for Arizona State’s ACHA Division II team. Corey Briody captains the Division II team at Northern Arizona University, Kyle Erwin is an assistant captain for the D-III team at NAU and Chris Carouchi wears an ‘A’ on his sweater with the Arizona Hawks in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL). Other captains that have previously come out of the Mission program have included Jack Allen (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers); Ryan Mohr, Cam Morgan, Clay Dickson and Matt Wolf (Arizona State); Steven Taylor, Trey Gonzales, Alex Stewart and Chris Eades (Northern Arizona University), Manny Rowe (Syracuse), Taylor Knight (Aspen) and Pat Moodie (Eu-

gene Generals). he said. “You’re considered an underclassman when Many of the players said Mission’s unique structure you first come in and as you get older, you become the has a lot to do with the program developing so many player that the younger guys look to for advice. You leaders. The 16U and 18U Tier I teams travel together learn to hold people accountable and deal with any and operate in a similar fashion to how the junior var- problems that come up.” sity and varsity squads might in a high Briody spent five seasons with school program. Younger players witMission, and was an assistant captain ness the leadership of the older players during his final year there when his 18U and are then put in a position to lead team advanced to the USA Hockey their fellow players as captains or asYouth Nationals. sistant captains. “I’ve always tried to be one of the “Coach Goltz and the rest of the hardest-working guys on the ice all the Mission program know how to develop time,” Briody said. “I’m not a very vocal players into leaders,” said Carouchi, leader, but can speak up when needed who wasn’t a captain when he played to get guys focused and aiming for the for Mission, but considered himself a same goals. When I started with Misleader. “Even though a player may not sion, I wasn’t a great player, and Coach wear a ‘C’ or an ‘A,’ that player is enGoltz told me that I was going to have couraged to be a leader for their team. to work hard. I take pride in leading by example and have carried that on “I feel (my two seasons with Misthrough college as well.” sion) helped me step into this role (with Mission’s ability to produce leaders the Hawks) much easier - that experience really helped me to not shy away Kyle Erwin is a Mission Arizona alum has impressed its current and former that has moved on to college hock- players. from this honor.” ey. He’s currently a captain for the “I think the fact that there have been Erwin played six years in the Mis- Northern Arizona University ACHA so many college and junior hockey capsion program, serving as a captain or Division III team. assistant for three of those. Now a junior at Northern tains coming out of Mission shows that Coach Goltz is Arizona, he said he learned a lot about leadership play- not only developing good hockey players, but people who turn out to be well-rounded men in all aspects of ing under Goltz. “The program is really set up like a college program,” their lives,” Erwin said.

MISSION STATEMENT Adversity is not only a good thing, but can build character S omething that I have said for years, and many before me have stated before me, is that hockey is the ultimate teacher of life lessons. It has become very cliché and one of the core beliefs that Goltz we have built Mission Arizona on, that it indeed can offer so much more than just a game. As I move into my second decade as a coach, I am starting to wonder if that fundamental and once universal belief still holds up in today’s society. To me, one of the biggest takeaways from the game is the ability to deal with adverse situations and learn how to work through the lows in order to not only reach true highs, but also truly appreciate the process and how it builds layers to character. The difference today is kids are allowed to work through those rough patches because society as a

whole is not allowing kids to even truly face adversity. When making statements like this, I always stress that I have been coaching the same age groups the same way for the past 12 years. The differences between players’ ability to work through the tough parts of a season has become less and less. When I started, the overwhelming majority of

parents understood the value of letting kids work through some tough situations, but it would ultimately create a more equipped human being, as they started to deal with and face real-life issues that test character and resolve. They let them fall

and pick themselves up, so to speak. I would say currently, the ratio of parents that still feel that way is actually half of what it was. It is always someone else’s fault or there are always excuses and reasons. Kids are forced to deal with tough situations less and less and because of that, I see so many struggle with not only the adversity a season brings, but when they are presented with real-life issues, they don’t have a chance. I have a 13-year-old daughter and my wife and I always talk about how our own life struggles have shaped our character and our foundation as people. The constant battle is that we obviously want to protect our daughter from any hurt or pain, but in the next breath realize that if she is presented with no struggles, then her full ability to develop is going to be cut short. My message is simple. Parents need to let coaches, the teachers of the game, use the game as a safe and controlled avenue to learn some of life’s most essential tools. Parents need to realize that getting in the way of that learning process is not preparing them and not fully utilizing what this game has taught so many for so long. When they fall, they need to figure out how to get themselves up. I believe it is up to the coaches to keep this process alive and not give into our every changing-society.

Jeremy Goltz is the program director for Mission Arizona.


NEW MEXICO REPORT Santa Fe’s Martin lands ‘16-17 Blades rebrands into the new roster spot with WHL’s Rebels McDermott Athletic Center By Matt Mackinder

By Matt Mackinder



t’s not uncommon for standout players from New Mexico to leave town to play high levels of hockey. Quinn Martin left home at 13 to go to prep school in Boston and then spent the past two seasons with the Colorado Thunderbirds 16U AAA team in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. Over the summer, he signed with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and made the team as an undrafted 17-year-old for the 2016-17 season. Speaking to the Red Deer Advocate recently, Martin explained his decision-making process in choosing the WHL over the United States Hockey League (USHL) and a potential NCAA opportunity. The Santa Fe native was selected by the Youngstown Phantoms in Phase I of the 2015 USHL Draft. “The USHL is definitely an option in the States, but I Quinn Martin didn’t really have a good connection with (Youngstown),” said Martin, a 17-year-old forward. “There’s also the NCAA, but the structure of the league didn’t entice me much. I want to be on the ice as much as I can. Everyone hears about the WHL and it’s not a bad place to be. It was my first choice overall. I got to know the coaches here at the prospects camp and it seemed really professional and they have a really good program here.” The WHL plays a 72-game regular season and the Rebels are owned and coached by members of the famed Sutter family, which starred in the NHL. “It’s a higher pace and a higher level,” said Martin. “I feel ready and I feel like everything has been great so far. I feel ready, I feel pretty strong in my skates. I just want to try to bring my complete game. I’m not going to try to do anything I’m not or play like the player I’m not. I’m going to play in both ends, hustle, make good plays, try to score, try to get points.” 18

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

he name on the outside may have changed, but hockey will still be played in Rio Rancho. This past summer, Blades Multiplex Arenas was sold and renamed the McDermott Athletic Center, or the MAC for short. The Sloboda family took ownership of the building nearly 10 years ago when the facility was falling apart and on the brink of closing and over the years, made many changes to make the facility a better place. Michael McDermott is now the owner of the MAC and also serves as president and director of baseball operations, while Terrence McDermott is the vice president and director of operations to coincide with Zach Kamm, who is a VP and director of basketball operations. “We are proud to be the new owners of this facility and are excited about the opportunities ahead of us,” wrote Michael McDermott on the MAC’s website, www. “The rink is here to stay and we plan on maintaining and improving our facility along with the ‘learn to skate’ and hockey programs. There are some great people sticking around and some new faces coming on board to make this the best place to hone your skills.” While no longer offering soccer and flag football, a weight room will also be added to the 60,000 square-foot facility. ​In terms of hockey, the MAC offers an environment for high-altitude training with their year-round indoor ice arena. The rink is a standard NHL-sized sheet equipped with an on-ice jump harness, stadium seating along one side of the arena and four full-sized locker rooms. Skaters of any level can enroll in the ‘learn to skate’ program. Each semester of classes includes one 30-minute class per week for a total of eight weeks, and additional practice ice. There is also the Snowplow Series (ages 3-6), the Basic Skills Series (ages six and older), specialty classes for adults, hockey skaters and advanced figure skaters. Private and semi-private lessons can be also arranged.

Chandler’s Johnson leaves mark on NCAA, NWHL up next By Matt Mackinder


uch is made, and rightfully so, of players like Auston Matthews and Todd Burgess coming out of Arizona and moving on to the NHL and NCAA ranks. Chandler native Kaliya Johnson is certainly doing her part as a high-end women’s player. In the spring, she graduated from Boston College after four seasons with the Hockey East powerhouse and recently became the first Arizonian signed so far to play in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) as she inked with the Connecticut Whale. “My biggest thing is that I want to be a positive role model for younger players,” said Johnson. “Being the first person to sign from Arizona, I am put in a unique situation where I can show younger girls that you achieve your goals with hard work and dedication. I was looking to continue to my career in hockey and coaches at BC suggested that I reach out to some teams in the NWHL. It’s an incredible honor to play in this league and I happy everything worked out “I am not really sure what to expect this year. I just want to enjoy the experience and have fun After four years at NCAA Division I Boston College, Chandler native and DYHA alum playing professional hockey.” As a youth player, Johnson played boys hockey Kaliya Johnson is off to play pro hockey in the NWHL. Photo/John Quackenbos with the Desert Youth Hockey Association (DYHA) out of Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. “Playing at DYHA with the boys was a great experience,” Johnson said. “I always enjoyed playing boys hockey – it’s a lot more physical and I loved that it was. It helped me see the game a different way, play it a different way, and become tougher.” Now, Johnson is a bona fide professional hockey player. “I think the fact that I can still have fun while playing at a very competitive level is what keeps me going,” said Johnson. “If you’re always having fun and enjoying what you’re doing, I think that should be enough motivation to continue playing every day.”

Coyotes seeing optimism heading into new NHL campaign and conviction. “Every year, you come in and everyone is feeling is pretty good about themselves,” said winger Jordan Martinook. “You can notice it a little more this year. I don’t know if you can put a finger on it, but everybody is having such a good time with it and every-

seasons. The play of Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, as rookies, represented an adequate transition hen training camp began in the middle of Sepfrom juniors to the NHL. Now, the experience factor tember, it was all smiles for the Arizona Coywill likely influence their progression. otes. “My mindset changed,” said Duclair. “Last year, I Players and coaches admitted to a new spirit surjust wanted to make the team and now, I’m gaining rounding this club, and a revitalized sense of more confidence every day. That’s a credit to purpose. Starting with goalie Mike Smith, the veterans, and I’m looking to improve.” who said there is “a good vibe around here,” to Last season, Tippett had no defined lines. coach Dave Tippett’s sense of enhanced inCaptain Shane Doan, the team’s leading terest and passion in his team, the environment goal-scorer at 39-year-old, topped the club is decidedly different than in recent years. with 28, but functioned principally on the third After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs by line. Early in camp, Tippett gave no indication nine points last spring, decision-makers decidon possible lines. ed to elevate assistant general manager John Veteran right wing Radim Vbrata will likeChayka to general manager this past May, ly rejoin his former Coyotes teammate and feladded to Tippett’s responsibility and gave low Czech Republic countryman center Marthe additional title of executive vice president tin Hanzal at center and Domi may be the left of hockey operations, and brought in players wing on that line. designed to increase team speed and overall “Players will play into their roles,” Tippett production. indicated. “Who plays with whom will be set After last season, Tippett identified the and determined by their roles.” biggest need as, “keeping the puck out of our One player likely under the microscope will net.” To that end, offseason acquisitions and be center Dylan Strome. As the third pick transactions were in heavy at the blue line. overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, Strome was one First, Alex Goligoski, Jaime McGinn and The Arizona Coyotes are confident that more notches will go down in the win col- of the last cuts at last year’s training camp. Luke Schenn were brought in to provide expe- umn (and more postgame celebrations like this one with goalie Louis Domingue For the 2016 camp, Strome arrived stronrience and competition. Then Chayka opened and captain Shane Doan) during the 2015-16 season. Photo/Norm Hall/Getty Images ger and according to Tippett, “more mature.” his checkbook, signed defenseman Kevin Connau- one is so happy. When you walk around, everybody Because Strome is so skilled with the puck and quite ton to a two-year deal and gave Connor Murphy, has a smile on their face, and not just the veterans, a dynamic offensive player, he said he’s ready to tranconsidered a rising force in the NHL, a six-year con- but the rookies and younger guys, too. Everyone is sition and play a complete game. tract. The club also drafted Jakob Chychrun in the just having fun and that makes for good competition “What I learned between last year and this year is first round of the 2016 NHL Draft in June and hope out on the ice.” that the NHL game is a 200-foot game,” Strome said. his development to the NHL can be quick. As the season progresses, the Coyotes could “You can’t cheat here, and I now focus on playing a Otherwise, the atmosphere is one of confidence have as many as three or four players with breakout 200-foot game.” By Mark Brown




Taking a mobile view of the Arizona hockey landscape O

ver the past m o n t h , BTM mobile has traveled to Flagstaff for the annual skate swap and to Prescott and Yuma for the start of their fall inline rec seasons. Here are some thoughts on our trip and the state of hockey stateExelby wide. Our Flagstaff trip coincided with the Arizona Coyotes’ Lil’ Howlers program, which was there to support the event at Jay Lively Arena alongside Northern Arizona University players and local coaches. It was a full sheet of players, coaches and volunteers and was amazing to see 50 new hockey players as part of the Lil Howlers. Congrats to the city of Flagstaff, Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association and the Coyotes’ Matt Shott (director of amateur hockey development) for a job well done. The new Coyotes ownership group has really taken the initiative to grow the sport statewide. And

the results are evident across the state. The Coyotes are partnering with the NHL where for $100, a new player gets a full set of gear, including skates and a stick to keep, USA Hockey registration and six on-ice sessions with Coyotes alumni. BTM is proud be involved with this program and will be providing FREE fitting sessions for the players. The new Lil’ Howlers can come to a designated BTM on a designated day to get fitted properly. The first time putting on hockey gear for a new parent can sometimes be an adventure. Our second two legs of the mobile tour were for the start of the rec inline season at Pioneer Park in Prescott and Kennedy Park in Yuma. The entire community rallies together for the promotion and growth of the sport. It is really refreshing and something all of us in greater Phoenix could take a lesson from. The number of parents that volunteer is heartwarming. In Prescott, longtime inline supporter Dean Koressel is on the mic putting the players through skills and making it a fun event. Anyone who has ever played in an IHAAZ tournament knows Dean, and I can guarantee you that he knows you. He is truly a historian of Arizona inline hockey. In Yuma, youth hockey president Jeff Johnson puts the players through drills to evaluate the players so teams can be evenly formed. Jeff is truly one the most important people statewide in growing and supporting inline hockey. His passion for Yuma inline hockey and commitment to the IHAAZ is legendary.

Through BTM’s recycle initiative and the community donations, there is an abundance of FREE gear. Both inline rinks are on community parks with the city building these outdoor facilities. Both community’s city leaders have a much better vision than that of our greater Phoenix cities and leaders. How many soccer and baseball fields do you drive by daily in greater Phoenix that are empty? BTM mobile has been trying to coordinate a fall trip to Tucson. We are looking forward to seeing the growth of hockey plus catching a few Tucson Roadrunners AHL games. In Tucson, there is a renewed energy in developing youth hockey. Let’s hope a fulltime rink is in the near future. Early January, we head to Lake Havasu for the IHAAZ inline festival and get to see another tireless supporter of inline hockey, Bill Beckman. Without Bill, I am not sure inline hockey would even be a sport in Lake Havasu. He has put countless hours towards building their program. The first few years, they took some lumps statewide in the IHAAZ, but now are very competitive. But more important than wins and losses is the fun and sportsmanship the program shows. In wrapping up our tour of the state, I think the words pride, commitment and cooperation best describes what we are seeing. Personally I could not be prouder of what we are seeing and the friendships made around the state. I am humbled to be part of Arizona hockey.

Randy Exelby is the owner of Behind The Mask Hockey Shops. 20

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

PICTURE PERFECT The inaugural Arizona State University women’s team gathers for a postgame photo after defeating the Anaheim Lady Ducks’ 19U team Sept. 23-24 in their first-eve.r games at the Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. Photo/Taylor Clark

Arizona Rubber Magazine staff writer Greg Ball and his wife, Lindsey, welcomed their daughter, Avery, into the world on Sept. 2 in Encinitas, Calif.

Longtime Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan surprised the Mission Arizona players when he showed up to a practice on Sept. 21 and ran drills alongside the youth players at AZ Ice Peoria.

The Arizona Hockey Union Bantam Black team packaged food for countries overseas at Feed My Starving Children during a recent community service event and also held a food drive with the United Food Bank to benefit local families. Photo/Bonnie Rees

The Desert Youth Hockey Association’s Mite Major team shows the “forks up” sign prior to taking the ice for the Mite Jamboree on Sept. 25, which was hosted by Mission Arizona at AZ Ice Peoria. Photo/Kelly McGovern

Scottsdale native and Jr. Coyotes graduate Brett Robinson celebrates a recent goal with the Ogden Mustangs of the Western States Hockey League. Robinson, a 1996 birth year, has also played in the Eastern Hockey League and North American Hockey League.

The Desert Youth Hockey Association hosted a Mite hockey 3-on-3 cross-ice event Oct. 1. The Arizona Hockey Union Black team and Ice Den Blues and Predators also took part in the mini jamboree at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. Photo/AZ Amateur Hockey

Former AZ Selects youth teammates Makenna Newkirk (left, Boston College) and Katie McGovern (right, University of Minnesota-Duluth) took a moment to pose together before their NCAA Division I women’s game Oct. 1 in Duluth, Minn. The Bulldogs won the game 5-2 and McGovern scored UMD’s fifth goal. Photo/Kelly McGovern

The Phoenix Knights brought in a trio of European players for the 201617 Western States Hockey League season, including, from left to right, Marcus Nylander (Finland), Marcel Hack (Austria) and Tim Zurbuchen (Switzerland). More on the Knights on Page 8.

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Position: Forward, Arizona Coyotes Acquired: Coyotes’ second-round pick (58th overall) in 2012 NHL Draft Hometown: Brandon, Manitoba, Canada Age: 24 Arizona Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up? Jordan Martinook: It’s when we won the Provincials when I was in Novice. I think the big thing for me was playing outdoors in Canada. Playing outside is a big part of every kid. When I was young, a family friend, probably about six years older than me, invited to me to play with his friends. He would go out with all his buddies and I was just a young kid, five years old, and they let me play with them. That’s where I developed to skate better and get more skills. As much as being on a team, and winning is so much fun, that’s the kind of hockey you have a blast. AZR: What’s your favorite memory in the game since leaving junior hockey? JM: It would probably be my first NHL game. Also, the last game of last year, scoring the game-winner. Winning the home opener last year against Pittsburgh was pretty special, too. AZR: Who have been the biggest influences on you, on and off the ice? JM: My whole family. My parents, my sister. Just seeing all the time they put in, and you kind of take that for granted. For them to let chase my dream and let me do everything I could to get here was definitely a good part of what I am today. AZR: What’s the best piece of advice you have for young hockey players? JM: You can have as such skill in the world, but if you’re not working hard enough, you won’t go anywhere. AZR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play? JM: I played everything. Football, baseball, basketball, but I’m a big fan of football. I love football. AZR: Do you have any superstitions? JM: No. not really. AZR: What does your game-day routine look like? JM: Wake up, go to the rink, have breakfast, do the morning skate, go home, sit on the couch with my dog for a bit. Have a pre-game meal that my wife cooks, and then go have a nap. Get up, have a coffee, get dressed, and then get picked up or drive to the rink. AZR: Do you have a favorite meal or restaurant here in the Phoenix area? JM: Big fan of North in Kierland Commons AZR: What are some essential items you take on a road trip? JM: Phone charger, definitely a couple of dress shirts. You know, pasta sauce can get messy, and a toothbrush. Even if you forget a toothbrush, you can always go down to the front desk and get a toothbrush. AZR: Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up? JM: Eric Lindros. As I got older, I was a big fan of Rick Nash. When they were rookies coming into the league, I loved the styles those guys played. Everyone was kind of worried (Lindros) was not going to get in (to the Hall of Fame), but it’s cool to see this. He was so dominant in his time and that’s pretty good. Photo/Norm Hall/Getty Images


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

- Compiled by Mark Brown

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May 26 -29, 2017

Midget Open . 2003 Elite & AAA 2004 Elite & AAA . 2005 Elite & AAA 2006 Elite & AAA . 2007 Elite & AAA February 17-20, 2017 November 24 - 27, 2016 2008 Elite & AAA 2009 Mite Track I (Half Ice) Application Deadline: October 21, 2016 2010 Mite Track II (Half Ice) . rt A, BB, B . Mite Track I & II ol . Bantam AA, A, B . Pee Wee AA, A, BB, B Squi

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