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MISSION ARIZONA

Mission AZ 16U White squad doing ‘pretty cool things’ By Greg Ball

T

he 2018-19 season has been a special one for the 16U White team with Mission AZ’s youth hockey program. Hockey director Jeremy Goltz has made a concerted effort to prioritize the squad to ensure that its players got the opportunity to play some high-level hockey. Mission has offered a 16U White team since the program started 13 years ago, but in recent years they were finding less and less local competition because so few programs in the greater Phoenix area were able to ice two teams at the 16U level and would focus their efforts on their AA teams. Knowing how important it was to players’ development to compete at a high level during their time in high school, he wanted to ensure these kids had somewhere to play and further their development. “I was committed to taking on the 16U White team like we had always done, but I wanted to put them through a AA schedule,” Goltz explained. “What has happened is they have taken their lumps in some games, and they have beaten some AA teams too - all in all, it has been a win-win for everyone involved. “We’ve got four girls on the team playing 16U hockey, which is unheard of, and we have pulled up some of the top players from our Bantam Red team. They’re doing double duty, so their development is really progressing. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of kids who were kind of between levels and needed a good year of

Mission’s overriding goal has never been focused experience.” Mission AZ’s 16U White team’s roster includes for- on winning games and hoisting championship trophies wards John Bomberg, Mason Brill, Madelyn Guer- while those are often byproducts of their work, the truly tin, Tanner Heitz-Ellis, Jack Huegler, Gabe Lopez, important thing is player development. That’s why this project has been so fulfilling for Goltz. Nicolas Miller, Erich Norris, Dillon Scheur, Tyler “The White team was really attached to the red team Singpradith, Spencer Stenholm, Nick Thurman; defensemen Payton Goltz, Tony Kiroff, Reese Mid- this year, whereas in the past they have been sort of dendorf, Johnny Montoya, Joe Storms; and goalies separate,” Goltz explained. “That’s important - these Hannah Schneidmiller and Caden Thurston. Goltz kids have to be around and exposed to higher levels. This is an important step coaches the squad, assistin their development as ed by Doug Cannon and they are exposed to the Chris Carouchi. “I appreciate the supintensity and the compeport of the town in helping tition of AA hockey, as well as the commitment it these kids develop,” Goltz requires. We have seen said. “They’ve had a good so many kids take great season and had plenty of leaps in their development games. The growth that we as hockey players, which have seen with them is very is what it’s all about in the clear. I feel like we have end.” broken through some barriLooking back at the ers with this team and done The Mission AZ 16U White team gets instruction from the season, Goltz said he’s some pretty cool things. It coaching staff during a recent game in Flagstaff. really has been a community effort to make this a quality pleased with how things turned out and feels validated experience for these kids.” in the decision he made. The 16U White squad closed their season with a “It was really sort of an outside-the-box idea, and Presidents Day tournament in Florida. Putting the squad it has worked out,” Goltz said. “There have been protogether required a commitment from the players, their grams like the Bobcats, Flagstaff and the Titans who families and many others within the Mission AZ circle to have been very supportive of what we’re trying to do try something a little out of the ordinary. with this team.”

MissionArizonaIce.org

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