Arizona Rubber Magazine - January 2020

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While Kiera LaCombe has decided to play college hockey for Wilkes University to become the first player from the Arizona Kachinas program to commit to play NCAA hockey, she will certainly not be the last from the Kachinas to advance her game to higher levels



FROM THE EDITOR Hockey folks are the most humble, genuine people on our planet


Matt Mackinder

n my 22-plus years in this business, I’ve certainly met my fair share of hockey people. And what I have learned over that time is that all those folks associated with this great game, whether it’s as a player, coach, manager, administrator, you name it, you are all the most beautiful people I’ve ever come across. I have always seen those involved with hockey as some of the most genuine people on Earth. I’ve never been able to figure out why, but I am certainly grateful. Hockey people are also some of the most humble people I have met. They would rather pass credit on to someone else rather than hog the glory. Kind of like Wayne Gretzky, who would rather pass the

puck than score. In fact, I saw a stat recently that said even if Gretzky never scored a goal, he’d still be the NHL’s all-time leading scorer. Unreal. Keep doing what you’re doing, everyone. To dip into hockey lingo, you’re all “beauties.” Congratulations are in order for a pair of players from the Jr. Coyotes 16U AAA team. Late last month, the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) St. Cloud Blizzard announced the signings of forward Logan Morrell and defenseman Easton Zueger. Both Morrell and Zueger spent time with the Blizzard this season, playing two games against the Austin Bruins in early December. Morrell, a Mesa native, scored his first NAHL goal with the Blizzard against the Bruins on Dec. 13. Way to go, Logan and Easton! Sticking with the Jr. Coyotes, three players from the 15 Only AAA team had their playing rights protected by Western Hockey League (WHL) clubs recently. The WHL is one of the largest suppliers of future talent to the NHL. Each team carries a 50-player protected list for those high-level skaters who choose the WHL to play junior hockey. The Vancouver Giants recently added forward Jayden Lipinski to their list, while defenseman Brasen Boser (Kamloops Blazers) and fellow blueliner Jake Livanavage (Spokane Chiefs) also had their names secured. These players have been scouted at numerous events this year with the 2004 birth year and have excelled, both on and off the ice. Congrats to Jayden, Brasen and Jake!

Arizona Rubber Magazine is published by: Mackinder Media, LLC, P.O. Box 373 Goodrich, MI 48438, 10 times a year, once monthly September through May and once in the summer. Postmaster: send address changes to: P.O. Box 373 Goodrich, MI 48438 Ph. (248) 890-3944 Email: Subscription Rates: $49.95 USD * Single Copy: $3.95 USD Mail subscriptions to: P.O. Box 373 Goodrich, MI 48438 Subscriptions are non-refundable REPORT AN ERROR IMMEDIATELY Arizona Rubber Magazine will not be responsible for more than one incorrect insertion Visit our Web site at: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on Twitter: @AZRubberHockey

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Publisher/editor: Matt Mackinder senior designer: Julie Rippy


The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) announced its Apex Learning Virtual School Peak Performers for the month of December, and the 16U Peak Performer is Arizona Bobcats goaltender Stephen Gilson. Gilson helped his team to an undefeated record at the sixth NAPHL event in Blaine, Minn., by winning both his starts at the event, which ran Dec. 13-16. He also played in the NAPHL 16U All-Star Game, allowing one goal in one period of action. Strong work, Stephen! Over in the AHL, the Tucson Roadrunners are enjoying a stellar season and will have three representatives in the 2020 All-Star Classic, which will be played Jan. 26-27 in Ontario, Calif. Roadrunners head coach Jay Varady will coach the Pacific Division at the event, the result of Tuscon having the best record in the division as of Jan. 1. In addition, Roadrunners defenseman Kyle Capobianco and forward Lane Pederson will also head to Ontario later this month. The AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s four divisions, for the 2020 AHL All-Star Challenge on Monday, Jan. 27. The teams will participate in a round-robin 3-on-3 tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3. The 2020 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Jan. 26, will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.

Contact Matt Mackinder at 4

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Goaltender Aaron Gittings has stood tall between the pipes for Arizona State with a 5-1 record and a 2.22 goals-against average to lead all Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League Division I netminders. More inline hockey coverage on Page 19. Photo/Will Shepherd

ON THE COVER Kiera LaCombe made history recently by becoming the first player from the Arizona Kachinas girls program to make a commitment to play NCAA hockey, deciding on Wilkes University for this coming fall. Photo/Vanessa Maines


Milestone Maker

By committing to play NCAA hockey in ’20-21, Kachinas’ LaCombe association’s first-ever advancement By Matt Mackinder

has done a great job as our college recruiter, and this is just the first of many.” Originally from New York, LaCombe’s journey has taken her to many stops ith the second half of the hockey season here and in full swing, playalong the way but getting the opportunity with the Kachinas has done amazing ers at all levels have started to look at options for the 2020-21 wonders for her overall development. season. “I lived in New York until I was 12 and after that, I was off to North Dakota For Kiera LaCombe, she made her choice last month, committing until around October 2018, which is when I wound up here,” LaCombe said. to attend and play NCAA Division III hockey for Wilkes University. In “This was back when Lady Coyotes was the primary girls team in Arizona. I making that choice, LaCombe becomes the first player from the Arizona played with them for two years until it disbanded last spring. I was actually Kachinas girls program to make a college commitment. quite anxious about where I’d be playing this year until Maines told me “I decided to take a trip out to Florida last spring for a college about the Kachinas and I attended their summer ice slots. My famhockey showcase and a couple of weeks after, I was contacted by ily has always been a big hockey family, so my sister and I also the coach of Wilkes (Earl Utter) via email,” said LaCombe, a defengravitated towards it.” seman on the Kachinas 19U team. “The school itself was small, LaCombe also talked about getting her start in hockey many how I liked it, and it had quite a few majors that were all on my years ago back home. list, so if I wanted to change, I could. It was also the perfect dis“I lived in a small town in upstate New York called Waddingtance from everything. In terms of hockey, the team is new, and ton,” she said. “It was right on the St. Lawrence River and about I liked the feeling that I wasn’t just a number to them, a 15-minute drive from the rink in Louisville, where I but an individual. started skating on hockey skates when I was 2. I played “I did feel this sense of achievement my first game when I was 4 years old.” when I got back from my final visit because Fast forward to present day, and LaI knew I was setting an example for the girls Combe’s commitment is something that younger than me who look up to us on the shows how the girls game keeps growing older teams. I got to have plenty of those in the United States, especially in Arizona role models when I lived up north, and I and in the southwestern U.S. hope that seeing someone in their program “Being from the East Coast myself, it is already committing shows them that they so much easier to be seen and recruited,” can put themselves out there as players as Maines said. “Having been out in Arizona well.” the past five years, it is much harder for the Wilkes University is located in Wilgirls to be seen, but things are shifting and kes-Barre, Penn., and has over 2,200 unchanging and the southwest is now prodergraduates and over 2,200 graduate viding more top-tier talent and schools are students. The women’s hockey program, starting to take notice.” which plays in the Middle Atlantic ConMaines also feels LaCombe’s comference, is now in its third season of exismitment is the tip of the iceberg when it tence. comes to NCAA commitments. Vanessa Maines, the head coach “Yes, I really do believe that Kiera is of the Kachinas 19U team, co-director of just the beginning to many of our girls takhockey operations and director of college ing the next steps in their hockey careers recruiting and social media, said she is and going on to play at higher levels,” said “beyond excited” in seeing LaCombe make Maines. “As part of my role with the Kachiher commitment to Wilkes. nas, I work one on one with the girls that “Kiera has been such a hard worker for have interest in playing college hockey and the past few years we have been fortunate that in and of itself has grown so much over to have her, so to see that pay off for her Kiera LaCombe signs her National Letter of Intent to attend and play hockey for Wilkes the past couple of years. With the developis so awesome,” Maines said. “The best University. On the left is Arizona Kachinas 19U assistant coach KC McGinley and on the ment plan that we have in place with the part about this commitment is that it not right is Kachinas 19U head coach Vanessa Maines. Kachinas, we are putting the players in a only benefits Kiera, but the entire associaposition to be successful year after year, tion. This gives so many of our other girls, working on their skills, and preparing them especially the younger ones, to see their for what it takes to play in college. potential and know that if they, too, work “I think the future is incredibly bright for hard enough, they can have the same opour girls who do want to play at that next portunities.” level and I cannot wait to see more commitMaines added that moving players on ments in our near future.” to college teams was one of the goals Moving ahead, LaCombe wants to finish when the Kachinas program was founded the current season on a strong note, but in 2019. also has an eye on her impending college “Yes, we are so incredibly thrilled to career and beyond. have been able to check this off our list for “Recently, I’ve been switching around first-year goals,” said Maines. “The college what I want to do after I graduate colrecruitment side of the game is something lege, but at the moment, my intended maI am so passionate about, so when our exjor is History Education,” said LaCombe. ecutive team got together to discuss first“Throughout college, however, I’m just year goals, we knew that with the talent we happy to play at a high level and learn in an have, we had the potential to help kids get environment that makes me feel at home. to where they want to be in the next steps Players from the Arizona Kachinas 16U and 19U teams show their support for Kiera Afterwards, in the way of hockey, I’m hopof their college careers and Kiera is the LaCombe as she inks her National Letter of Intent with Pennsylvania-based Wilkes ing to get into coaching a team like the one University last month at AZ Ice Arcadia. first example of that.” I play on right now. “This is obviously a huge moment for the Kachinas association,” said Arizona “I just know that I never want to stop contributing my part to the game, Coyotes director of amateur hockey development Matt Shott. “Vanessa Maines whether it be reffing or coaching or playing.”



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Hamilton grad Murphy succeeding with USPHL 18U squad By Joshua Boyd/


here is a world - and possibly many worlds - of difference between Arizona high school hockey and Midget 18U hockey in New England. Chandler native Patrick Murphy is a worldly kind of young man, so he is happy to experience the best of all of these. After a very successful four-year career at Hamilton High School, Murphy is now skating for the Twin City Lightning 18U team in Auburn, Maine. The Lightning is the new identity for the organization formerly known as the Maine Moose, which won the 2019 18U Tier II national championship. Murphy has had his own valuable experiences at Tier II national championships with the Arizona Hockey Union Knights. “I played my first hockey with the VOSHA Mustangs,” said Murphy, a center. “Later on, I played with the AHU Knights where I was fortunate enough to go to the Tier II national championships twice.” Murphy learned hockey from his father, who had played as well. Although Murphy grew up playing multiple sports, he found himself drawn more and more to hockey. “I was pretty active as a kid and hockey just became the thing I loved to do,” said Murphy. At Hamilton High School, Murphy played alongside a future Lightning teammate in Liam Conway, who joined the team in Nov. 2019 after starting out in a Tier III junior league. Conway, a defenseman, had played a season prior in New England for the Islanders Hockey

Club 18U team, so he paved the Hamilton-High-to- teams in the USPHL are all solid from top to bottom, New-England path early for Murphy. and something I’m proud to take part in.” “High school hockey was a ton of fun, and it was Right off the bat this season, Murphy showed what great being able to play with friends and have less pres- a Chandler kid can do in Tier I 18U hockey, scoring a sure than playing travel hockey,” said Murphy. “Addition- goal and two assists for three points in his first game. ally, high school hockey in Arizona imIronically, this was against Conway’s proves every year with more and more former Islanders Hockey Club team, travel players becoming involved.” though Conway was no longer there. Over the offseason following the Conway first joined the Lightning 2018-19 season, Murphy decided to for a Nov. 8-9 series against the Northtest the higher-level hockey waters and wood School’s prep team. Together, entered the CCM Showcase in Denver, the two have helped the Lightning go Colo. There, he played on a showcase 7-3-0-1 since being reunited. As of team against his future coach, impressmid-January, the Lightning were two ing the Lightning’s Matt Lavallee. The points behind Pennsylvania’s Palmyra two talked about Murphy, who is a Black Knights for the overall lead in 2001-born player and thus in his final the American Division of the USPHL 18U eligibility year, of coming to Maine 18U league. and working towards a potential Tier II Even with the playoffs coming up in late February, there was still plenty junior spot in the future. The Lightning of time to put together a rally and take is the direct in-house Midget affiliate the 18U crown. Murphy was certainly of the Tier II Twin City Thunder in the putting in the work to make that hapUSPHL’s National Collegiate DevelopPatrick Murphy pen. ment Conference. “One area that has seen a lot of improvement over “I thought it would be in my best interest to come to Maine, with it being in New England where there is a the season is my skating,” said Murphy. “Our coaches geographical advantage, in being closer to a lot of east- both have experience with power skating, and it has ern colleges,” said Murphy. “I have had a great experi- shown throughout our team. Also, playing in the USPHL ence with the Lightning, and I have formed many great has made me a more accurate shooter, and has helped relationships with my teammates and coaches. The me to process the game at a higher speed.”



‘Let kids play’ AHU 10U Squirt Silver staying busy, on and off the ice, with other sports, activities provide a framework through

By Sean Phillips


hether it is getting ready for baseball, flag football or soccer, the Arizona Hockey Union 10U Squirt Silver team doesn’t sit still for too long. Led by coaches Bruce Willis, Mike Weekly, Steve Ishu and Paul Manos, these kids are hockey players. If you have ever seen them play the game, you would agree that they are serious about it. On the other hand, if you ever saw them off the ice, you would know they are still just kids having loads of fun. Some of the biggest-name hockey players in the NHL would agree that playing other sports is very important. They attribute much of their development as a person to being more than just a hockey player. USA Hockey American Development Model regional manager Bob Mancini has stated that “the biggest injury prevention tip is to be a multisport athlete.” “Off-ice activities at that age group, the most important thing is you need to play more than one sport,” said Mancini. “You need to do more than just be a hockey player. That’s really what off-ice training is at that age. It’s still about building the athlete, and not being hockey player-specific.” As for the AHU 10U Silver players, they do a little bit of everything. Brayden Willis stays very busy when off the ice. He plays striker and is the captain for his Arizona soccer club 2009 elite team. Soccer season and hockey season are the same time. For soccer, he trains three times per week plus games and tournaments. Staying conditioned is a massive part of successful hockey teams and AHU 10U Silver is no exception. They take their development serious and what better way to stay conditioned and ready for the ice than boxing. Lucas Ishu and his big brother Brady Ishu (who plays for the AHU 12U Pee Wee Silver team) train with regular boxing sessions. Tripp Neujahr helps round out the team with the performing arts. Youth theatre is not only a great place to express yourself creatively, but it has also been proven that increased levels of independence and responsibility

w h i c h young people grow up and become

adults. It can create high 8

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

levels of responsibility and involvement, which can be extremely important for young people. A hockey coach won’t necessarily ask the team’s opinion about who the lines should be made up of or what the best play may be. Whereas in youth theatre, it is essential for members make these types of decisions. Neujahr is a member of a hip hop dance crew. Alex Gauthier is a student of martial arts and currently a brown belt. Basically, he has the ability to kick your butt if he wanted to, but since he’s focused, disciplined and very nice and respectful, there’s a good chance he won’t. Martial arts teaches him focus, discipline, memory, goal setting, respect, confidence and the realization of the effort that it takes to become a self-confident individual. All of these come into play for hockey as well. Noah Stanley is one heck of a hockey player and also, a masterful Lego builder. More specifically, he loves to build stadiums, sports helmets, players and mascots out of Legos. Pretty impressive stuff for a kid of any age. As much as hockey coaches, parents, teachers and adults as a whole would love to have little Gretzkys on the team, a big reminder for all of us should be to let our kids just be kids sometimes. “When I hear sports psychology at 10U, I think we should be focusing on kids having fun, kids being engaged, and kids being good teammates and good people on and off the ice,” Mancini said. “If we begin by delivering those messages, and let kids play, and worry about the process of developing hockey players over the long term instead of the short-term outcome of winning hockey games, in the long run, we’re going to be better off. “Our players will be way better off.”

NAU Coaches and Staff will be hosting a




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Sat. & Sun., March 28-29, 2020 Jay Lively Arena . Flagstaff, AZ

You are invited to join other prospective players for three on-ice sessions. Sessions will be an hour and a half in length and each player will receive a NAU camp jersey. OPEN TO ALL JUNIOR OR COLLEGE ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

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Former NHLer Norton now behind bench with Jr. Sun Devils By Matt Mackinder


ll it took was a chance conversation with a connection from the hockey world to get Brad Norton coaching with the DYHA Jr. Sun Devils. A former NHL defenseman from the Boston area, Norton is the head coach of the DYHA 16U team this season – and loving every minute of it. “I moved here like five years ago; my wife’s family is from Glendale,” explained Norton. “We were living in Los Angeles and wanted to get out of LA. My wife (Tiffany) was doing radio and wanted a break from radio. We wanted to be closer to one side of the family, so we moved here. As far as coaching, I was doing some Little Howlers with the NHL Alumni and ran into (DYHA hockey director) Brad McCaughey, who played at Michigan with my brother Jeff. We got to talking and he asked if I was looking to get into coaching and I was, so it went from there. “I fell in love with it. I love coaching kids. I knew I’d get back into it at some point, but I never thought it would be at the youth level. I really enjoy it, though.” Norton was McCaughey’s assistant coach on two DYHA teams in 2018-19 and this year, McCaughey is Norton’s assistant with the 16U team. He added that coaching kids is a thrill and an amazing experience. “Coaching kids is different than in the pros and even in college,” said Norton. “With coaching kids, they’re playing because they love the game, and that’s what I


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

like. I think you can get to them and have a bigger im- geles, Washington, Ottawa and Detroit, Norton was pact on them at that level. I come from a family of hockey originally drafted by Edmonton in 1993 before playing players (another brother, John, played at the University four years of NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Massachusetts. of Maine) and my brother It was growing up and Mike seemed to always have playing at the highest level a terrible coach and it just that Norton learned how he made him hate the game. I wanted to coach. always said to myself that if I “Defense first, of course,” ever got into coaching that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t said Norton. “Brad McCaughey always says that someone’s last coach. you can’t lose if you don’t get “I was a maniac when I scored on. I’ll find what our was little, and I think some players strengths and weakcoaches are too hard on nesses are and work from kids. You just have to treat there. I played for too many every kid differently, find a coaches that wanted to way to get to them, and have change how a player plays. a positive impact on them, I want to use players in situmake them enjoy the game. ations where they can sucI think I can relate to some ceed.” of the kids that might have temper problems. I like that. So what does the future hold for Norton? Sticking I’d like to think I can get to them, get in their brains, get Brad Norton played 73 games in the NHL for the Los Ange- around for the long haul? les Kings. He also skated for the Florida Panthers, Wash“I’m year to year and each the best out of them.” year, I’ll sit down with the One interesting note ington Capitals, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings. about the DYHA 16U team is none of the players have family and talk about what I want to do,” Norton said. “I the last name “Norton.” Brad and Tiffany have a 10-year- can say that if I do stay and coach in Arizona, it’ll be with these guys, for sure. Everything here is done right, very old son Cash, but he doesn’t play hockey. A veteran of 124 NHL games with Florida, Los An- professional.”

Seeing Clearly


As a new year begins in earnest, Tahoe Prep Academy looking ahead with 20/20 vision By Greg Ball


anuary is often a time to set new year’s resolutions for a lot of people - eat better, work out more consistently, get focused on achieving a new goal. It’s a time of year for renewals and to get a fresh start on pursuing the things that mean the most to you. It’s no different for hockey players and coaches, even if the new year falls squarely in the middle of their season. At Tahoe Prep Academy, players, coaches and administrators are working hard to reach their goals in 2020 and beyond. For them, everything they do is all about skill development and preparing players for their next steps, whether that’s junior hockey or college. Spending nearly every day on the ice gives players plenty of opportunity to get better, and the unique academic environment at Tahoe, which mixes online learning and in-person classes at South Tahoe High School, provides the opportunity for Tahoe Prep’s student athletes to thrive despite the challenges of being away from the classroom to travel. While all the players on the academy’s varsity and prep teams are thriving in their own rights, here’s a look at five players who are making significant strides as the calendar flips to 2020. Gian Buerer When Tahoe Prep Academy’s first international student arrived in Lake Tahoe, he found it oddly familiar. A native of Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland, Buerer said he was surprised how much Tahoe looked like his home country. “I wasn’t expecting that,” Buerer said. “With all of the mountains and nature, it definitely reminded me of home.” The 18-year-old goalie for the prep team said Tahoe Prep attracted him because he was looking for a place to play competitive hockey, graduate from high school, and pursue his dream of playing college hockey. The University of Notre Dame is his dream school. Buerer started playing hockey at age 12, and said he skated out for one tournament before discovering that being in the net was more his style. “I don’t give up easy,” Buerer said of his hockey strengths. “I can read the game, and I have good patience and speed. I’m working to improve my puck handling and post play since I’m a smaller guy.” Buerer has posted save percentages of .859 in the prep team’s East Coast Elite League games and .875 in the North American Prospects Hockey League’s (NAPHL) Prep division. “The East Coast players are really talented and good,” he said. “It’s fast, physical hockey. The Minnesota teams are hard, with very talented players, and they’re very big guys, too. You can feel that hockey is everything to them. But I feel we are competitive. Our team is hard working.” Buerer had more adjustments than just hockey leagues in joining the Tahoe Prep roster. “It’s a lot different from Switzerland,” he said. “The whole school system is different, and I’d never taken online classes. But it’s great, it’s a good school, and the classes are interesting. It was also new to me to be living with the team and being around the guys all the

time. The best part is all the road trips we take -- using planes to go to games is very exciting for me. I’ve learned a lot this year too, living with guys my own age. “It’s about respect.” Alex Boyko A senior from Rocklin, Calif., Boyko in his third year with Tahoe Prep. He said he put in the time over the summer in the gym and on the ice to be ready for his move up to the

here, and playing my senior year on the prep team was a big motivator.” All the work has paid off, and he has two goals to date in the team’s NAPHL games this season. “I’ve learned that there is not much you can do by yourself on the ice,” Boyko said. “You have to pass and rely on your team, and you really have very little time with the puck. You have to move it.” As the team enters the 2020 part of the season, Boyko said he is focusing on the details and working to get in the best shape he can for May camps and showcases. “My goal is to make an NAHL team right now,” Boyko said. “You always shoot for the top, and if you put in the work, hopefully, you land someplace that you’re happy with.”

Colby Arioto After attending a summer camp with Tahoe Prep, Arioto started turning his eyes toward being at the academy full time. The 16-year-old junior from Fresno, Calif., played with the Fresno Jr. Monsters last seaGian Buerer son, and spending five days a week on the ice in Tahoe sounded very attractive. I was interested in the amount of practice I would be getting at the academy,” Arioto said. “I would say that overall I’m a better player now than when I came. I have also learned how much effort you Alex Boyko need to put in if you want to play in college, and that you probably need to put in more than you already think you’re putting in.” Arioto said the move has provided other lessons beyond the ice. “The dorms come with Colby Arioto positives and negatives,” he admitted. “Living with other people can get annoying, but I’ve also learned a lot more about handling things on my own. I have also had to adjust to the cold. Tahoe is a lot colder than Fresno.” The Tahoe Prep varsity team is leading the San Jose Garrett Reagan Sharks High School Division I prep team. Varsity league with 15 points, and for Arioto, a high“I came light was his goal against Pioneer High School. back with the “I like how the coaches work on your individual approach that skills and moves,” he said. “They are coordinated in this was going the practices and are really nice.” to be another year of devel- Colton Bertagna opment along A 17-year-old senior from Chico, Calif., Bertagna Colton Bertagna the road to my switched from roller hockey to ice hockey in Aug. 2018. goal of college hockey,” Boyko said. “I’ve pretty much been living here all of high school, so my friends are Continued on Page 18




Upcoming AHSHA playoffs ‘anyone’s championship to win’ By Matt Mackinder


ard to believe, but the 2020 AHSHA playoffs are right around the corner. Games will begin the weekend of Jan. 25-26, with semifinals for Division 1 and Division 2 and quarterfinals for Division 3 and JV on Feb. 1, and championship weekend scheduled for Feb. 8-9. All games will be played at Ice Den Scottsdale. The Division 1 and Division 2 state champions will be crowned on Feb. 8, while the Division 3 and JV championship games will be held on Feb. 9. “It’s playoff hockey season,” said AHSHA hockey director Tait Green. “How can you not get excited when everyone is playing for a trophy? “I think our league continues to grow and our playoffs become a direct result of that. There is a lot more parity, which makes for better games and, in turn, more fan interest.” AHSHA president Ray Reed is in his first season in his current role and feels all four championships are up for grabs. “The last quarter of the season is always an exciting part of the year,” Reed said. “The games are far more intense as teams try to position themselves for a favorable playoff position in the first round. “This year was a very competitive with it being anyone’s championship to win for the top 50 percent in all four divisions. Although there are a few standout

teams, I see no team running away with a championship this season.” When it comes to the actual games themselves, AHSHA board member Kenny McGinley said last year’s results should serve as a wake-up call this season. “Playoffs are, without a doubt, the highlight of our year,” McGinley said. “Our championships have become the focal point of the Arizona amateur hockey world when they take place. It is awesome to allow our teams and players the opportunity to showcase high school hockey in front of a larger audience. “Last year, SDO upset Notre Dame in the semi-finals to prevent the frequent Pinnacle-Notre Dame championship matchup at the D1 level. This year, there seems to be some more parity across the board, with Pinnacle and Notre Dame remaining the odds-on favorites. However, as all sports have shown, teams are always extra motivated to knock of whoever is on top.” Reed noted that the 2019 finals at D1 and D2 had sold-out crowds at the Ice Den with more than 100 others turned away at the door due to the rink being filled to capacity. “Over the past few years, we have been seeing a huge increase in the student fan base and are expecting a record turnout for this year’s playoffs as well,” said Reed. “Every year, our playoffs have continued to grow in


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all aspects – hype, attendance, exposure,” said McGinley. “The last couple years, we have sold out in a matter of minutes. The amateur hockey community wants to be there, and the student bodies are involved. I don’t see this year being any different.” As an added incentive, whichever teams wins the D1 title heads to the USA Hockey National Tournament. This team has shown in the past that it can compete with some of the top teams in the country. “By having our D1 state champion be competitive at nationals, this is huge for the league,” Green said. “It shows everyone that we are getting better as an association. The next step is for one of these teams to bring home a national title.” “With each passing year, our top AHSHA D1 teams have become standouts and a force to be reckoned with at the national level,” Reed added. “With the huge growth in Arizona high school hockey, there has been an even more significant increase in the incoming talent. As we move closer to becoming Arizona’s premier hockey league, AHSHA believes that in the foreseeable future an Arizona high school D1 hockey team will bring home a national championship.” Going forward, McGinley sees a bright future for AHSHA. “Our recent focus has turned to growing our organization from within,” he said. “With Tait as our hockey director, along with reinvesting within our organization, we are committed to improving our level of play across the board. We are on the right track.”


First-year Bucks focusing on development, confidence By Matt Mackinder


he first-year CAHA Bucks program has burst into the Arizona youth hockey scene in a big way this season. The Bucks have two teams for the 2019-20 season – a combined 11U/12U team coached by Greg Sitrick and a 13U team coached by Daemion Glantz – and both have shown marked improvement over the course of the season. In late December, the 11U/12U team took second at the Coyotes Cup, while the 13U team fashioned a third-place finish at the same event. “I think we were surprised by how well we did and that we ended up in the championship game,” said Sitrick. “We were hoping just to be competitive going into the tournament. By the end of the tournament, we were battling for the gold medal and felt we had rightfully earned our shot at it. Although we left the tournament with silver medals, it fired us up for the rest of this season and reinforced a positive mindset that we can compete with anyone if we play to our full potential.” “Our team was able to honor the game we love so much, and the kids really had fun,” added Glantz.

“For our kids, it was their first tournament. We are strictly a 13U team playing up to 14U teams and the self-respect they have gained is invaluable. We were able to beat a couple teams for the first time, see what tournament play is all about and see the level of compete they must sustain in order for that success to be repeated. When we played as individuals, we did not fare well. When we played as a team, we did well. When we do that, I think we can skate with anyone.” And while both Sitrick and Glantz said being involved

with the Bucks from Day 1 has been exciting, seeing the players improve in really a short amount of time has been the biggest reward. “Our progress is assessed not by wins and loss-

es but our growing ability to compete game by game, regardless of the situation,” Glantz said. “We look at the player’s individual skill set and asses if they are contributing to the team as a whole as well as to a particular line, play or concept. The players measure their own progress and as concept buy-in increases, so does the fun.” “Everything we do is focused on development,” noted Sitrick. “Progress is assessed by how much we improve game to game. As the kids get better, we become more competitive in our games, we score more goals, we allow less shots, we take less penalties, we convert more on the power play, we see the kids play with more confidence, the speed of our game increases, and so on. Because we are so tuned into our players and their abilities, we are able to assess how and when tweaks need to be made to work with our individual players and within our team chemistries.” Looking ahead, the Bucks would like to see the program expand into four or six distinct teams at the 14U, 13U, 12U, 11U, 10U and 9U levels.


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HockeyShot Tip of the Month: Advanced Pass & Shot Drills By HockeyShot Bench Boss Coach Jeremy


ou can find a lot of hockey passing tips and shooting advice on, though the only way to really get good at them is to practice in an environment where you can concentrate. You want to practice receiving the pass with your back to the net so you get some practice taking a pass, moving and shooting. If you find yourself without a friend or teammate to practice with, HockeyShot’s Passers & Passing Kits are good tools for rebounding the puck back to yourself so you can keep your practice going, without damaging walls, garage doors or your mom’s rose bushes!

Drill #3 – The Pass, Receive and Move to the Power Backhand Shot This drill involves taking the pass with your back to the goal net on your forehand. You quickly push the puck away from your body and flip the blade of your stick over the puck. Finally, you make a quick flick of your wrist with a backhander, hopefully over the goalie’s blocker and into the net for a goal.

Drill #1 - The Pass, Receive and Shoot Forehand Shot Drill Just like it sounds, this drill involves passing the puck to your partner, receiving a pass back, a quick stickhandling move while spinning around 180 degrees before taking a shot from the backhand on net. Drill #2 - The Pass, Receive and Shoot Forehand Shot Drill This drill seems to be pretty much the same. Imagine you want to out-maneuver a defensive player. When you get the return pass, you will want to either sweep the puck with your stick as you pivot the 180 degrees, or you keep the puck still while you skate around the puck to the other side to face the net. Then you take your shot.

Drill #4 – The Pass, Receive and Through the Legs Spin and Shoot Drill For this drill, pass to your buddy, or the recommended HockeyShot Passer. When you receive the puck back, tap it between your skates, and then pivot around so you catch the puck from yourself, and then make a snap shot into the right corner of the net. You might want to practice this drill many times before you put it into use in a game.

Drill #5 – The Pass, Full-Spin and Receive Before Shooting Drill This drill can be done with either a forehand or backhand shot. First pass and receive the puck after you spin around towards the net. Then shoot the puck while the goalie’s jaw is still resting on his chest from your graceful techniques. Drill #6 – The Pass between Legs, Receive from Between Legs and Shoot Drill Here’s another cool drill you can have some fun with. Pass the puck to your partner or recommended HockeyShot Passer. Have the puck come back between your legs, and then take a forehand or backhand shot, depending on what you feel like doing. Practicing all these drills will be a lot of fun and will greatly improve your passing and shooting skills. Have fun, work hard, and you’ll find you’re racking up more goals and impressing the fans with your fancy stick work. The two products I personally recommend for these drills are the 4-Way Elite Passer and Crowd Goes Wild Shooting Tarp. Enjoy this article? Then be sure to visit HockeyShot. com for the latest tips and tricks! Remember these are great tools to help any player step up their game and are the most-used products by hockey players around the world.



IHAAZ season on tap as energy, optimism at all-time high By Brian Lester


HAAZ is closing in on the start of another season and the growth of the league as well as the interest from the outside is undeniable. Teams from Mexico have already committed to playing in a couple of festivals during the upcoming season and a team out of California is looking to make a trip to Arizona as well for a festival. Those games will count as exhibition contests, but that interest is an added boost to a league that already is expecting to have 28-30 teams participate in the league this year between the 8U division all the way up to the 18U division. The number puts the league at maximum capacity without having to resort to two weekends per festival, as was the case in the last decade. “We’re really excited with the continued growth we’re seeing after the changes we made to the IHAAZ structure three seasons ago,” said league tournament director Nick Boyarsky. “The league format has been well-received, and the level of play keeps elevating every season. The interest from out of area teams to attend festivals to play exhibition games will help keep things fresh and add some new blood to the mix, which I think helps break up the monotony of smaller divisions.” Boyarsky said the appeal to teams from outside the league proves the stability of IHAAZ as a whole. “Teams like the ones from Mexico see the same division sizes and club names year after year and know

if they commit to a trip like this, they will have a good event to play in,” Boyarsky said. “I think we’ll see more interest from Southern California teams in the coming years, too. IHAAZ hosts events in months where many of the larger national tournaments do not (because of the pull of players for ice hockey). Knowing you can drive five or six hours and have a four-, five-, or sixteam division of well-coached teams with professional,

With the new IHAAZ campaign starting Feb. 7 in Yuma, ‘the level of play keeps elevating every season,’ according to league tournament director Nick Boyarsky. Photo/IHAAZ

top-quality officiating is a big reason to come.” IHAAZ has also been able to forge a strong relationship with ice hockey players in the Phoenix area rather than try to work against them. “Our relationship has been through the involvement of parents of ice hockey players who are staunch roller hockey advocates,” Boyarsky said. “Back six or seven


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years ago when the Royals started, it was driven by two fathers whose sons were competitive ice hockey players, who wanted to see their child (and their child’s teammates) experience the fun of roller hockey. They saw how it was helping their ice game. We now have a new generation of those parents in Dustin Jans and the Knighthawks and Nick Paris and the Royals. “They work with their managers from their players ice teams to schedule games that allow the players that are participating in roller the chance to do both. Then word spreads to the ice teammates about how much fun they are having and the team and program just builds.” The fun that comes with playing the sport has indeed been a factor in adding to the popularity of IHAAZ and the new season ahead is expected to be an enjoyable one. “I think we’re going to get a sneak peek at what the new upper class of IHAAZ looks like, which is really exciting,” Boyarsky said. “The 18U division is going through a slow changing of the guard as the older players who have been dominant with teams like the Royals and Blaze age out and younger players from the Jr. Wildcats, Knighthawks and others start making their way in. It’s also possible we could have up to six 8U teams this year, which is incredible since we struggled a few seasons ago to just have four. “Overall, I think we’re going to see some really competitive games in all age groups this season, and parity makes things so much more exciting and fulfilling.”


Mission AZ 18U team ‘going full throttle in fifth gear’ By Greg Ball


he 2018-19 season was a truly special one for the Mission AZ hockey program – especially its 18U Red team. For the first time in the program’s nearly two-decade history, one of their teams advanced to a national championship game. While Mission 18U came up short in its final game, the entire season was a memorable one, and it has served to motivate this year’s squad and others within the program even more. “We hit the ground pretty hard this season,” said Jeremy Goltz, Mission’s coach-in-chief. “We can’t expect to be at our best every time out on the ice, but when it’s on the line, these guys really respond, and they have shown me something special already this year.” Goltz said that approximately half of his roster is back from last year, and the players who are now in their second season with the 18U group have truly carried forward momentum from their national championship run last season. The holdovers have taken on mentorship roles to guide their younger teammates and in doing so, they have set an extremely high standard that all the players are living up to in every practice and game. The team’s roster includes forwards Dean Angelo, Scott Bird, Luke Fain, Matt Gary, Jack Huegler, David Jaichner, Benson Middendorf, Skyler Sanchez, Nick Weber, Jorden Werner and Mitchell Wolfert; defensemen John Bomberg, Spencer Craig, Connor Lough, Reese Middendorf, Gavin Moriarty and

Luc Spinasanta; and goalies Matthew Diamond and Chase Golden. “The guys who aged out after last year – guys like Nick Coppola, Christopher Fritz and others – can’t be replaced, but what’s special about this team is that they have such high expectations and truly believe that they can beat any team in the country on any given day,” Goltz said.While Mission’s 18U team is playing about

The Mission AZ 18U Red team, on the heels of going to the national championship game last spring, prepares for a recent game with its sights set on once again making a postseason run.

.500 hockey so far this season, their record doesn’t reflect accurately on the strength of the team and what it is achieving. During the Christmas break, Mission was on the road for nine days back east, and beat the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, the Highland Park Falcons, in their own rink.They have suffered one-goal losses to the No. 10- and No. 12-ranked teams in the country and playing

those teams so competitively has been a positive sign in Goltz’s mind. He knows that the squad’s schedule of 70plus games – many in the tough Central States League – is a grind, but he also knows it’s preparing his players to be at their best against the top competition once the postseason rolls around. “I always expect to win, but these guys are just consistently good,” Goltz said. “Last year’s team went through a rut mid-season and really had to find themselves, but this team has been playing well every week. I can’t emphasize how rewarding that is.” Goltz wasn’t shy when asked about his goals for the season. After getting a taste of what’s it was like to play in a national championship game last April, he said they’re “going right at it,” this season and that they’re “going full throttle in fifth gear.” Aiming high is in the program’s DNA. “Our expectation is to win it all, and that’s what we’re shooting for,” Goltz said. “One of the toughest challenges will be against a tough Arizona Hockey Union team in state, and we have to ensure that we don’t overlook any teams. While we all want to get back to that national championship game, we also realize we have to take care of the smaller goals along the way before we can focus on the big prize. “What I’ve told the guys this year is that they need to walk into every practice and game and act like national champions, and they know that means they need to do all the little things right. There’s no reason we can’t get back there.”

MISSION STATEMENT Finding consistency in this crazy world of youth hockey I

n the crazy world of youth hockey, I think there is a beckon of consistency. This should be used as a model for organizations and serve as an eye opener to the youth community as a whole. You have to Goltz look no further than our AA or Tier II teams this season. Just look at coach Jim Pinti and his Arizona Hockey Union 14U Black team, coach Zach Fryer and his Jr. Coyotes 16U team, coach Jason Evahnenko and his AHU Silver 18U team, and my Mission AZ 18U Red team. All four of these teams have one common thing as not only are they at top the standings, but all these teams are a result and a model of consistency. These teams have stayed together with core players for years and because of that consistency, they are all showing what the results can be.

I see so many players jumping around, especially at the younger levels, to pursue the AAA allure. Here are some examples of what, to me, are the greatest things about this game when you have the right chemistry, and everyone takes a teamfirst approach. The k i d s h a v e stayed with their programs and respective coaches and the reward is a strong hockey and bonds that will last forever. Not only are these teams all standouts in our state, but they all have proven to be able to

be nationally capable as well. The AHU 14U team just won the prestigious Richmond BC tournament over Christmas, the Jr. Coyotes 16s knocked off the No. 1-ranked team in the country to win a bid to Silver Stick International, and our Mission 18s recently beat the No. 1-ranked team in the country on a trip to Chicago. I know it’s easy to put AAA on a pedestal, but in reality, the AA core has established us not only nationally, but has shown the town what can become of teams and players what the game of hockey is truly about, and that’s the overall team. I am proud to represent this state at the AA level and to me, it is a truly a beckon of how things should be in youth hockey. I hope this will open some eyes and realize just exactly what this teams are accomplishing and, more importantly, how they are doing it.

Jeremy Goltz is the coach-in-chief for Mission Arizona.



Tahoe Prep players building success, on and off the ice Continued from Page 11 The forward started his junior year at the Canadian International Hockey Academy in Ontario, Canada, and then transferred to Tahoe in Jan. 2019. The reason he returned to Tahoe for his senior year was because he saw how much he could develop there. “I love being on the ice every day,” Bertagna said. “I go to the gym and play hockey, and I love it. Ice hockey has really taught me to be more physical in my play.” Bertagna said the opportunities being offered to him in roller hockey may find him going back to the sport next year. “I will probably end up at Lindenwood or Bethel University with a Division I roller hockey team,” he said, adding that he has spring visits planned to both schools. Being a senior on the varsity team, Bertagna said he is trying to step up and set a good example. He has also found success in the San Jose Sharks High School Hockey League, with two goals and an assist. “I’m not as consistent as I would like to be on the ice yet, but my shot is doing well,” Bertagna said. “I’m

just really enjoying this year. It’s definitely the lifestyle I like to live – being on the ice every day and in the gym.” Garrett Reagan When Reagan told his parents he wanted to go to a hockey prep school, they brought up Tahoe Prep. The 14-year-old freshman from San Jose, Calif., was a defenseman with the San Jose Jr. Sharks last year and was interested in doing more to advance his skills. “I wanted to play junior hockey, and prep school seemed the best path,” Reagan said. A major positive for Reagan and his family was Tahoe Prep’s proximity to home. He said his parents get to attend many of his varsity games and when they play in San Jose, he gets to spend some time at home. The academy’s training schedule has helped the freshman take significant strides in his hockey development. “I get sore more often, but my shots have gotten harder, and I like the speed to the games,” Reagan

said. “I think I’m good in the defensive zone, but I need to work on the offensive zone and recognizing plays.” Reagan said the Tahoe Prep coaching staff offers a good range of training focuses, which can only make him better as he progresses through his high school career.

“Chris Collins is more focused on speed and skills, while Mike Lewis runs a lot more flow drills, and Leo Fenn handles mostly team-based drills - it’s a nice combination,” Reagan said. Photo/Ed Fritz

NEW MEXICO REPORT Mustangs’ 19U Tier II team exceeding Union-bound Graziano Ice Wolves’ expectations in inaugural season first-ever NCAA D-I commitment By Matt Mackinder

By Matt Mackinder



he New Mexico Mustangs’ 19U Tier II team is breaking down barriers on the way to providing a major boost to the game in the state. In its first season as a Tier II team, the Mustangs’ 19U team is playing with confidence and, more importantly, as a team. “The best part of this team is they play for and support each other,” said Mustangs 19U coach Floyd Braaten. “Captain Olivia Schultz and assistants Kylie Phillips and Mattie Arellano make sure that everyone is part of everything we do, doesn’t matter if they are part of the core or new to the Mustangs. All the families, as well as the organization as a whole, has been very supportive and are excited to go to Rocky Mountain Districts to prove that we can put a competitive team on the ice.” Marina Meneakis, an assistant with the 19U team who played tier and college hockey, loves what she has seen out of the team this season. “Given the circumstances of building a tier program for the first time out of New Mexico, the season has gone considerably well and continues to improve,” said Meneakis. “The girls have put in an exceptional amount of work, on and off the ice, and continue to excel and adapt given the unique environment we were all challenged with.” Having a 19U team at the rec level for the last 10 years, the Mustangs decided the lateral move to Tier II was the most logical jump to make. “About five years ago, the coaches noticed the core group of this team playing 12U and the hope was that we could keep them in the program so that when they all hit the 19U division, that would be the core of the first Mustangs national-bound team,” Braaten said. “We lost a few along the way, but that core of 10 kids is what makes this team go.” Of the 19 players on the team, there are four 2002 birth year players with the rest made up of 2004- and 2005-born players. 18

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strong first half of the 2019-20 NAHL season had top NCAA Division I schools taking notice of New Mexico Ice Wolves goalie Josh Graziano. In late November, the Buffalo, N.Y., native committed to Union College, a school just four hours from Buffalo, and joined the Dutchmen earlier this month, becoming the first player in Ice Wolves history to commit to play Division I college hockey. The 19-year-old Graziano was the first draft pick of the Ice Wolves, going second overall, in the 2019 NAHL Draft and went 3-13-0 with a 3.54 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. “It was a difficult decision to leave a community that will always have a place in my heart, but I am excited for the next step in my career,” Graziano said. “Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, Ice Wolves staff and fans for all of the support this year. From top to bottom, the New Mexico Ice Wolves has been the best junior organization I’ve ever experienced and is filled with amazing people who want nothing but the best for all of us players.” Ice Wolves head coach Phil Fox, who played NCAA D-I hockey at Northern Michigan University from 2007-11, is beyond pumped to see Graziano take his game to the next level. “I couldn’t be prouder for Josh and our organization,” said Fox, an NAHL graduate himself, having played for the Fargo-Moorhead Jets from 2004-06. “The NAHL is ‘the league of opportunity’ and this is exactly what we want to happen for our players. Josh has earned this opportunity through his hard work and dedication. “We want the New Mexico Ice Wolves to be a place for extraordinary development for all of our players so they can have the same opportunity to move their careers forward at the highest possible levels. This is a great first college commitment for our team and we look forward to helping to produce many more in the months and years ahead.”

Arizona collegiate inline hockey hitting growth spurt battle of starting the club this season. Jack faced many obstacles like most new clubs do in just getting the university to get on board, form the club, collect the dues, and do all the planning ahead needed to build a new team in the WCRHL. Through many ups and downs, Garcia’s pure will to keep things going paid off. “NAU has also been a fully student run club since day one, with underclassmen picking up the torch as upperclassmen graduate to keep returning year after year. With the addition of freshman Jaden Guzman,

is now back in a coaching and organizational role,” Boyarsky said. “Along with Jack Allen, who himself he growth of collegiate inline hockey within the was playing there as recently as last season, the state of Arizona was showcased at the Western two aim to take a very young and hungry group and Collegiate Roller Hockey League’s (WCRHL) Dec. mold them into a competitive Division II club in the 7-8 regular-season event at the Tucson Indoor WCRHL.” Sports Center. ASU remains the premier program in the state. For the first time, four independent collegiate The Sun Devils Division I team finished the first programs grounded in the state took part: Arizona semester with an overall 8-1 record and claimed State University, the University of Arizona, Northern 10-2 and 8-1 victories against GCU and U of A at Arizona University and newcomer Grand Canyon December’s gathering in Tucson. ASU’s Division IV University. team remained undefeated on the season A total of seven (6-0) after rolling past Arizona and NAU by teams took part in scores of 8-2 and 12-0, respectively. the two-day event. The Sun Devils-Wildcats rivalry game Arizona State, usually creates sparks whenever the teams the University of meet. Arizona and Northern “The constant rivalry between the two Arizona fielded schools always makes for a passion filled both their primary game,” Boyarsky said. “U of A to their and development credit always battles to the buzzer against teams while what is usually a much stronger ASU club. G C U This year, U of A kept ASU to a one-goal fielded its game for, realistically, the first half of the primary game. Being able to play a game like that Division II for almost 18 minutes of a game shows the team. potential U of A has. They need to be able A S U to keep that same passion against non-rival swept all opponents, however.” four of its games, winning twice each Boyarsky gives his team a positive grade with its Division I and Division IV teams. at the end of the first semester. NAU finished 2-2 on the day, with its “We’re very happy with the progress primary Division II team winning twice – of the team which has in many areas 11-2 over Grand Canyon University and exceeded expectations from the coaching 16-3 over the University of Arizona – and staff,” Boyarsky noted. “Many Division its Division IV team finishing 0-2. I teams must rely on a few key players to Grand Canyon University’s Division II secure consistent victories. With this year’s squad recorded its first win in program Chandler native Connor Bottrill has been a contributor on both the University of Arizona’s ASU team, we are seeing a leveled attack history, a 10-1 decision over Arizona to Division III and Division IV teams this season. Photo/Will Shepherd offensively and a strong commitment to close out the event with a 1-2 record. the club looks to be a few supporting players shy playing on both sides of the rink from some players The event’s success was buttressed by strong of being a powerhouse in Division II and potentially who honestly did not show up to tryouts with that organizational framework. Division I for the next 3-4 seasons.” mentality. “Both the growth of newer clubs – NAU and GCU Boyarsky also lauded the efforts of those keeping “It speaks to the players’ desire to succeed and -- and sustainability of the existing clubs like ASU and the Sun Devils’ longtime rival University of Arizona their ability to buy into coaching. The true test will be U of A are both due to the continued strong efforts of rolling along. to see how the team can elevate its first semester volunteer coaches and student officers who put the “U of A has kept their club alive with the efforts WCRHL success into facing stiffer competition in work in to run these teams,” veteran Arizona State of the Tucson area roller hockey scene with support mid-January as we head to Illinois for an inter-regional program coach Nick Boyarsky explained. from both the Tucson Indoor Sports facility they call event against many of the top Division I teams in the “GCU’s club would not exist without the hard home and alumni like Kevin Smith, who was around country such as Lindenwood, Bethel and Michigan work of students like Jack Garcia, who led the uphill at the start of the club’s growth as a student and State.”

By Phillip Brents


GCU faces off inaugural inline season, scores first win


xpectations and, most notably, enthusiasm rank high on Grand Canyon University’s first-year roller hockey team. The Antelopes were finally able to roll onto the playing court Dec. 7-8 at the Tucson Indoor Sports Center in their Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League debut against fellow Arizona rivals Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Grand Canyon University lost its opening two games – 10-3 to ASU and 11-2 to NAU – but finally tasted victory with an 10-1 decision over U of A. “We had to play shorthanded on players due to some having prior commitments but got those guys back during our win against U of A,” GCU club cofounder and club president Jack Garcia said. “It was a complete team effort to get our program’s first-ever victory.”

Grand Canyon University led 8-1 early in the third period. The Antelopes swept the Three Stars of the Game in posting their history-making victory. Jeffrey Payne earned First Star with four goals and three assists. Garcia received Second Star billing with three goals and three assists while Kyle Decoster was voted Third Star with two goals and one assist. Payne received credit for the gamewinning goal while Jason Nelson picked up the goaltender victory with by making 10 saves on 11 shots. Through three games, Payne and fellow forward Drew Murchison were tied for the team scoring lead with seven points.

Garcia said the team is looking forward to making more history on the playing court. “The team was excited that we were able to get a win so quickly and everyone is starting to buy into the team more,” said Garcia. “The team has also been getting praise from people outside the university who play hockey and from staff as well.” The Antelopes hope to make up ground on division rivals Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Northern Arizona University and Chico State prior to the regional championship tournament in March. - Phillip Brents


2019-20 ARIZONA/ ARIZONA/NEW NEW MEXICO ALUMNI Email all additions, deletions and corrections to

ARIZONA PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY Austin Carroll (Scottsdale) – Kassel Huskies (Germany) Trevor Cheek – Esbjerg Energy (Denmark) * Sean Couturier (Phoenix) – Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) Richard Coyne (Cave Creek) – Rapid City Rush (ECHL) Anthony Croston (Phoenix) – Adirondack Thunder (ECHL) Brandon Fehd (Gilbert) – Rapid City Rush (ECHL) Seth Gustin (Phoenix) – Columbus River Dragons (FPHL) Brendan Lemieux (Phoenix) – New York Rangers (NHL) Broc Little (Phoenix) – Linkopings HC (Sweden) Auston Matthews (Scottsdale) – Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) Beau McCue – Fayetteville Marksmen (SPHL) * Ben Oskroba (Tempe) – Peoria Rivermen (SPHL) Gage Quinney – Chicago Wolves (AHL) * Ty Ronning (Scottsdale) – Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) Henrik Samuelsson (Scottsdale) – Worcester Railers (ECHL) Philip Samuelsson (Scottsdale) – Leksands IF (Sweden) Andrew Shortridge – San Jose Barracuda (AHL) * Tage Thompson (Phoenix) – Rochester Americans (AHL) Zack Ziegler (Scottsdale) – Battle Creek Rumble Bees (FPHL) COLLEGE HOCKEY NCAA DIVISION I – MEN Todd Burgess (Phoenix) - RPI (ECAC) Nathan Burke (Scottsdale) - Minnesota (Big Ten) Jaxon Castor (Phoenix) - St. Cloud State (NCHC) Carson Dimoff (Scottsdale) - St. Lawrence (ECAC) Jake Durflinger – Denver (NCHC) & Phil Knies (Phoenix) - Miami (NCHC) Demetrios Koumontzis (Scottsdale) – Arizona State (Independent) Erik Middendorf (Scottsdale) - Colorado College (NCHC) Ethan Roswell (Paradise Valley) - Bentley (Atlantic Hockey) Ryan Savage (Scottsdale) – Miami (NCHC) Connor Stuart (Phoenix) - Arizona State (Independent) Johnny Walker (Phoenix) - Arizona State (Independent) NCAA DIVISION I – WOMEN Kenadie Cooper (Gilbert) – St. Anselm (NEWHA) Logan Hicks (Scottsdale) - Syracuse (CHA) Kiki Roust (Queen Creek) - Merrimack (Hockey East) Carlee Turner (Scottsdale) - New Hampshire (Hockey East) NCAA DIVISION III – MEN Trey Bagwell (Phoenix) - UW-River Falls (WIAC)

Blake Bjella (Mesa) - Worcester State (MASCAC) Derek Brown (Peoria) - Oswego (SUNYAC) Andy Chugg (Scottsdale) - Trinity (NESCAC) Clay Cross (Glendale) - Marian (NCHA) Brett Dillon (Phoenix) - Bryn Athyn (Independent) Sage Englund (Cave Creek) - Salve Regina (CCC) Alex Heinritz (Fountain Hills) - Middlebury (NESCAC) Samuel Kany (Phoenix) - Trinity (NESCAC) Keaton Kaplis (Gilbert) - King’s (UCHC) Danny Kiraly (Glendale) - UW-Stevens Point (WIAC) Michael Mahan (Scottsdale) - St. John’s (MIAC) Nick Nast – St. Mary’s (MIAC) & Ethan Osburn (Dewey) - UMass Boston (NEHC) Joe Petruzzella (Scottsdale) - UMass Boston (NEHC) Forbes Ploszaj (Gilbert) - St. Scholastica (NCHA) Erik Pritchard (Cave Creek) - Worcester State (MASCAC) Keenan Spillum (Phoenix) - St. Norbert (NCHA) Alex Storjohann (Phoenix) - Cortland (SUNYAC) Carson Vance (Tempe) - Oswego (SUNYAC) Mason Vukonich (Phoenix) - UW-River Falls (WIAC) Sean Winikates (Phoenix) - Potsdam (SUNYAC) Dante Zapata - Utica (UCHC) & NCAA DIVISION III – WOMEN Jessica Carter (Scottsdale) - Buffalo State (NEWHL) Raeann Clancey (Surprise) - King’s (UCHC) Taylor Curtis (Peoria) - Hamline (MIAC) Natasha Hawkins (Scottsdale) - New England College (NEHC) Gabbie Igo (Phoenix) - Plymouth State (NEHC) Hannah Kiraly (Glendale) - Plattsburgh (NEWHL) Ky Lackey (Phoenix) - Buffalo State (NEWHL) Belle Lacombe (Surprise) - Norwich (NEHC) Alexis Ryan (Mesa) – Middlebury (NESCAC) JUNIOR HOCKEY Erik Atchison - Spokane Chiefs (WHL) & Dante Bagnasco (Mesa) - Charleston Colonials (USPHL Premier) Brian Baier (Phoenix) - Gillette Wild (NA3HL) Johnny Baird (Scottsdale) - Helena Bighorns (NA3HL) Jack Bayless (Scottsdale) - Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) Robby Beck (Cave Creek) - Northeast Generals (NA3HL) Logan Bellar (Chandler) - Texas RoadRunners (NA3HL) Guy Blessing (Chandler) - Topeka Pilots (NAHL) Ryan Bottrill (Scottsdale) - Janesville Jets (NAHL) Colby Brett (Phoenix) - Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) Adam Bricker (Scottsdale) - PAL Jr. Islanders (USPHL NCDC) Ben Brockway (Phoenix) - Cobourg Cougars (OJHL)

Sean Bunting (Phoenix) - Langley Rivermen (BCHL) Cole Carpenter (Gilbert) - Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) Paul Cartone (Phoenix) - Fort Erie Meteors (GOJHL) Arun Cibrario (Glendale) - Hampton Roads Whalers (USPHL Elite) Liam Conway (Chandler) - Danbury Colonials (NA3HL) Nic Coppola (Glendale) - Pittsburgh Vengeance (USPHL Premier) Dylan Crane (Gilbert) - Missoula Jr. Bruins (NA3HL) Evan Cronkhite (Aliso Viejo) - Boston Bandits (USPHL Premier) Logan Dahlgren (Surprise) - Boston Bandits (USPHL Elite) Henry Dennee (Chandler) - Pueblo Bulls (WSHL) Joe DiGiulio – Hampton Roads Whalers (USPHL Premier) & Josh Doan (Scottsdale) - Chicago Steel (USHL) Jacob Elik (Phoenix) - Northern Colorado Eagles (WSHL) Chance Elliott (Dewey) - Long Beach Sharks (NA3HL) Gavyn Entzminger (Surprise) - Summerland Steam (KIJHL) Jake Fain (Prescott) - Willmar WarHawks (NA3HL) Dylan Florit (Orange County) - Atlanta MadHatters (USPHL Premier) Christopher Fritz (Phoenix) - Helena Bighorns (NA3HL) Jeremy Gabriele (Scottsdale) - Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) Matthew Garneau (Tucson) - Motor City Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) Ethan Gicewicz (Vail) - Pueblo Bulls (WSHL) Cole Golden (Phoenix) - Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL) Mark Gordon (Chandler) - Odessa Jackalopes (NAHL) Trevor Griebel (Scottsdale) - Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) Justin Gusso (Phoenix) - Philadelphia Revolution (EHL) Tristan Hadley (Gilbert) - Seahawks Hockey Club (EHL) Hunter Hastings (Scottsdale) - Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) Stefan Hawkins (Scottsdale) - Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) Kohl Hedquist (Tempe) - Hampton Roads Whalers (USPHL Premier) Hayden Hirsch (Phoenix) - Kamloops Storm (KIJHL) Zachary Hollman (Flagstaff) - Twin City Thunder (USPHL Premier) Ryan Janowski (Scottsdale) - Nelson Leafs (KIJHL) Jake Johnson (Scottsdale) - Regina Pats (WHL) Will Josephson (Phoenix) - Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) Mark Kastelic (Phoenix) - Calgary Hitmen (WHL) Tyler Katen (Peoria) - Missoula Jr. Bruins (NA3HL) Alexander Kelsall (Gilbert) - Wausau RiverWolves (NA3HL) Stephen Kennedy (Scottsdale) - Northern Cyclones (USPHL Elite) Tyler Kiley-Ram (Scottsdale) - Soo Eagles (NOJHL) D.J. King – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) * Matthew Knies (Phoenix) - Tri-City Storm (USHL) Nick Layman (Scottsdale) - Northern Cyclones (USPHL Elite) Rene LeBlanc (Scottsdale) - Rockets Hockey Club (USPHL Elite) Jason Lee (Thousand Oaks) - Boston Bandits (USPHL Premier) Jeremy Masella (Phoenix) - Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) Anthony Massanotti (Gilbert) - Almaguin Spartans (GMHL) Matthew McBride (Phoenix) - Texas RoadRunners (NA3HL)

Michael McCosh (Glendale) - New Mexico Ice Wolves (NAHL) Connor McMahan (Huntington Beach) - Hudson Havoc (USPHL Premier) Reid Miller (Gilbert) - Connecticut Jr. Rangers (USPHL NCDC) Rowan Miller (Scottsdale) - Powell River Kings (BCHL) Frazier Mohlar (Phoenix) - Sicamous Eagles (KIJHL) Logan Morrell (Mesa) – St. Cloud Blizzard (NAHL) Ty Nash (Scottsdale) - Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) John Olguin (Chandler) - Midwest Blackbirds (USPHL Premier) Kaid Oliver – Victoria Royals (WHL) & Luke Ormsby (Scottsdale) - Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) Marcus Robertson (Chandler) - Coulee Region Chill (NA3HL) Matt Ryan (Scottsdale) - Lansing Wolves (USPHL Premier) Adam Samuelsson (Scottsdale) – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) Redmond Savage (Scottsdale) - U.S. Under-17 Team (USHL) Aaron Stone (Gilbert) - Northumberland Stars (GMHL) Joey Strada (Scottsdale) - Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) Jack Strauss (Phoenix) - Maine Nordiques (NAHL) Riley Stuart (Phoenix) - Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) Caleb Swanson (Mesa) - Yellowstone Quake (NA3HL) Timmy Treadway (Phoenix) - South Shore Kings (USPHL NCDC) Andrew Van Ooteghem (Flagstaff) - Florida Eels (USPHL Elite) Caleb Wall (Chandler) - St. Cloud Blizzard (NAHL) Chase Wilhelm (Prescott) - Missoula Jr. Bruins (NA3HL) Cody Wilson (Goodyear) - Decatur Blaze (USPHL Premier) Garrett Wright (Mesa) - Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) PREP SCHOOL Cade Schiefelbein (Glendale) – Tahoe Prep Academy

NEW MEXICO COLLEGE HOCKEY NCAA DIVISION III – MEN Cory King (Albuquerque) – Chatham (UCHC) JUNIOR HOCKEY Jai Delany (Santa Fe) - Midwest Blackbirds (USPHL Premier) Marcus Gretz (Albuquerque) - Flint Firebirds (OHL) Lachlan Henderson (Taos) - Midwest Blackbirds (USPHL Premier) Seth Payson (Albuquerque) - Texas RoadRunners (NA3HL) Nick Weaver (Rio Rancho) – Boston Jr. Rangers (EHL) Dane Whittet (La Mesa) - Pueblo Bulls (WSHL) PREP SCHOOL Liam Sutton (Santa Fe) – Tahoe Prep Academy * former Jr. Coyote & former Arizona Bobcat


Smashfest 3 coming in March to BTM Scottsdale location I

t is getting close to that wonderful time of the year again. A time where families come together from all different backgrounds and walks of life to meet at Behind The Mask Scottsdale and break Exelby stuff. Yes, it’s the third annual Behind The Mask Smashfest! Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 14! What better way to get rid of that old TV or tablet that you replaced over the holidays than to rip pucks at it, leaving its shattered glass scattered across the parking lot. Smashfest 3 will be happening in the back parking lot of Behind The Mask Scottsdale. Last year’s event was a huge success to help celebrate our 25th anniversary and this year, we hope to make it even bigger. Kids and adults took part shooting five pucks to test out the newest sticks available on the market. You can purchase additional shots with a donation

to the Arizona Humane Society, an organization chosen each year by Sasha, BTM’s top customer service representative and store mascot. The shooting gallery set up was massive, with car windshields set up across the ground to ensure that even the weakest shot got some good results. Refrigerators were filled with glass cups and bottles, offering a loud and satisfying sound, with a goal in the center with hanging bottles and plates for

added difficulty. As more shooters lined up throughout the day to take their shot, more and more smashables were placed out in the gallery. We even had a celebrity appearance with former Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris stopping by to show off his accuracy. The Great American Poutine truck was on site selling a wide variety of this beloved Canadian snack.

And raffle prizes including a set of CCM Beats headphones, and in addition, a stick and more items were awarded to lucky participants. Company booths include Bauer, CCM, Warrior and True. Come out and meet the best company representatives in the business and get firsthand info on the technology changing the game. Also, be on the lookout for free swag just for stopping by and trying out these great products. This year, we hope to see a wider variety of smashable items, hopefully including a car. We are now taking donations of items that you no longer find use for – TVs, computers, refrigerators, washing machines, glassware, plates, mirrors, or anything breakable that you may no longer have use for and are looking to dispose of. This year, unfortunately, for the safety of our guests and employees, we will not be accepting any tube TV’s as they do not break easily and are very heavy. All donations can be dropped off at Behind The Mask Scottsdale during normal business hours. Again, make sure to mark your calendars – Saturday, March 14. Behind The Mask Scottsdale. Smashfest 3. Hope to see you there!

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

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

After solid first half, Coyotes ‘want to keep it going’ this homestand is just the beginning for us,” Crouse said. “We want to make this a tough building for opponents and when we put in put the effort like we did during this homestand, it’s huge for our confidence. “With the character in the room, we know to keep it up and not to cheat.” While the Coyotes continue to flirt with first place

firmly affixed, heighten their concentration level and play mistake-free hockey. s the critical second half of the NHL season de“If you want to be successful, you have to win at scends, don’t ask Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tochome,” Tocchet pointed out. “Going forward, we can chet to think outside of the box. only worry about ourselves. You can’t have the long losFor Tocchet and his band of intrepid ice warriors, ing streaks and have to establish something at home. I their collective focus going forward is one-dimensional always believe you can’t worry about other teams. You – to focus on the task at hand. can’t look at the standings. If you start to Don’t ask Tocchet to watch the out-of-town look beyond your game, or looking scoreboard or to think how to separate his Coyat other teams, you forgot otes from the rest of the Stanley Cup playoff-conabout your game.” tending teams. The margin for error is so slight, If the Coyotes are to the boundary for any mistake so precise that any create some separation diversionary tactic, Tocchet points out, is clearly and begin to stack wins harmful to the long-term goal of contending for a together, the top line pitting Stanley Cup berth. Clayton Keller at left wing, As the Coyotes swing into the second half of Carl Soderberg at centhe season and a possible spot in post-season ter and Nick Schmaltz on the play, there are factors, such as the play of conright side, could carry the club. tending teams, that will clearly influence their forSchmaltz led the club in scoring tunes. over the initial half of the season and One way to exorcise such demons is make Keller, who recorded three two-goal sure Arizona’s home record is as pristine as posgames from Dec. 12-Jan.4, is poised to sible. Over the first half, the Coyotes were margintop his career-best of 23 goals set during his al at best on home ice and produced a far better Forward Nick Schmaltz, finding most of his success playing on a line with Clayton rookie season two years ago. Keller and Carl Soderberg, has been a major component of the resurgent Arizona record away from Gila River Arena. Over their Coyotes offense this season. Photo/Norm Hall “I’m shooting the puck more and moving my first 21 home games, the Coyotes went 10-10-1. feet,” Keller said. “When I do that, I’m a dangerAt the same time, the club finished a New Year’s holi- in the Pacific Division and playoff position within the ous player. Also, our line has a great deal of chemistry. day break with a three-game winning streak and a clear Western Conference, their companions in this chase We can help each other and we want to keep that up. boost of energy. include St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Vegas, Edmonton, We want to make a difference each and every night. After defeating Philadelphia 6-2 in early January, for- Winnipeg, Minnesota and Calgary. Lurking closely are With Schmaltz, he is such a smart player, and he can ward Lawson Crouse explained the value of the winning Chicago, Nashville and San Jose. shoot the puck, too. He’s always looking for me and I’m streak and the importance to dominate play at home. All of which should keep the Coyotes on the top of looking for him as well. “We want to create a tough atmosphere to play and the game each night. That is, if they skate with blinders “We just want to keep it going.” By Mark Brown




Position: Defenseman, Arizona Coyotes/Tucson Roadrunners Hometown: Roseau, Minn. Acquired: Signed by Coyotes as free agent on July 1, 2019 NHL Draft: Selected by New York Islanders in second round (40th overall) of 2008 NHL Draft Last Amateur Team: University of Minnesota (WCHA, NCAA Division I) Age: 29 Arizona Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up? Aaron Ness: Probably winning the state high school hockey championship for Roseau, my hometown. That was a lot of fun to play with buddies who you grew up with and played with for a couple of years. You’re reaching for that goal your whole childhood, so being able to do that with a group that included all my buddies was special. AZR: What is your favorite memory since leaving junior hockey? AN: Probably my first NHL game (Feb. 2012). You want to be in the NHL and work toward that goal your whole life. It was a dream come true to finally get to play. The game was in Philadelphia. I broke in with the Islanders, and I’ll never forget that experience. AZR: Who was your biggest influence, on and off the ice? AN: Probably my parents. My dad, especially. On the hockey side of it, he played the game and he brought me into the game. Both my mom and dad did so much for me growing up to get me where I am today. I’m forever thankful to them for that. AZR: What is the best piece of advice you can give a young hockey player? AN: Just continue to have fun with the game. It gets to the point where so much that goes on is out of your control. You have to continue to love the game and have fun with it. Continue to enjoy what you’re doing every day. AZR: Other than hockey, what is your favorite sport? AN: Golf, definitely. I play a lot of golf in the summer and it’s a big hobby of mine. AZR: Any superstitions? AN: Nothing crazy. I put everything left on first, like my left shin pad, my left skate, left elbow pad. I don’t know why. I kind of started doing it that way and continue doing that today. AZR: What is your game-day routine? AN: Nothing out of the ordinary. You get to the rink, I get my sticks done, warm up and get into it right away. Nothing over the top. Pretty standard, pretty simple, and I’ve stuck with it over the years. Seems to be working. AZR: Do you have a favorite restaurant in the area? Have players introduced you to the restaurant scene? AN: Nothing crazy yet. My wife cooks quite a bit, so I just rely on her for the food side. AZR: What are some things you take on road trips? AN: I’m a pretty boring guy, so just the general stuff. I take my iPad, my headphones. That’s about it. I watch movies and shows on the plane, and that’s about all I need. AZR: Did you have a favorite player growing up? AN: I watched the Detroit Red Wings growing up and Nicklas Lidstrom was a lot of fun to watch. Photo/Norm Hall


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

- Compiled by Mark Brown

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