Arizona Rubber Magazine - February 2020

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Later this year, the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association will host its second annual Flagstaff Dark Sky Tournament, which promises to be a fun, competitive experience for all who venture to Northern Arizona

DARK SKY TOURNAMENT July 31 - August 2, 2020 Flagstaff, AZ






FROM THE EDITOR Buckle up, folks! This time of year is exciting around the rinks


ell, here we are. For many youth hockey organizations, this time of year is when teams at all levels are finishing up their regular seasons, preparing for playoffs, and coaches are preaching to the kids to leave it all on the ice. Championships will be handed out soon, and some already have. Those trophies, medals and banners are symbolic of the culmination of months of hard work, sacrifice and passion for this great game of hockey. Like I have always said, live for these moments. These kids are only young once, so encourage them all you can, be there and prop them up after a bad Matt Mackinder game, while also being there after those monster games to keep them on an even keel. In any event, cheer loud and proud and if all goes well, hopefully your team is playing in the last game of the season. Best of luck, everyone!! Big news here for the Jr. Coyotes as program graduate Sam Deckhut has committed to NCAA Division I St. Lawrence University! Deckhut was a standout forward for two seasons for the 15O and 16U Coyotes and was part of two consecutive state championship and USA Hockey Rocky Mountain District championship teams. This season, he is finishing his senior year with Salisbury Prep School in Connecticut. Deckhut originally grew up in San Diego and moved to Arizona to play for the Jr. Coyotes. Known as a talented, smooth-skating 200-foot centerman, the 17-year-old Deckhut tallied at a point-per-game pace while in Midget AAA hockey. He will be the second recent Jr. Coyotes grad to suit up for the Saints and will join Carson Dimoff out in Canton, N.Y. Congratulations, Sam! Early February also means the crowning of Tier I and high school state champions. The Jr. Coyotes once again swept the Tier I state title slate, topping the Arizona Bobcats at the 14U, 15O, 16U and 18U levels. Then in the AHSHA circles, four schools won titles as Hamilton came home with the Division 1 championship, Flagstaff won at Division 2, Notre Dame Prep at Division 3, and Chaparral brought home the JV title. Nice work, everyone!

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


Ever thought about bowling with the Tucson Roadrunners? Well, now is your chance! For $40, you can take part in a bowl-a-thon with select Roadrunners players on Monday, Feb. 24, at Tucson Bowl, which is located at 7020 E. 21st St. Dinner is included in the cost of the event. For more information, visit The Arizona Coyotes will be bringing in 34 players from the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) to compete in three exhibition games as part of the Dream Gap Tour from March 6-8. All games will be played at Oceanside Arena in Tempe. The teams will be captained by Scottsdale natives Katie McGovern and Makenna Newkirk. Final team rosters will be released at a later date. Those two teams will play Friday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 7, at 3 p.m. On Sunday, March 8, the PWHPA Stars will play Coyotes Alumni at 12:30 p.m. “We are extremely excited to bring the Dream Gap Tour to Arizona to showcase the elite talent of women’s professional hockey in our market,” added Arizona Kachinas president and Olympic silver medalist Lyndsey Fry. “Girls hockey is booming in Arizona with the growth of our Kachinas girls hockey program and we are eager to see how this event accelerates that growth even further. As a former U.S. National Team player, it is an honor to support the advancement of our game alongside the Arizona Coyotes.” “The PWHPA is extremely excited to bring the Dream Gap Tour to Arizona,” said PWHPA executive director Jayna Hefford. “We know Arizona is a growing hockey market and we are excited to showcase the best talent in women’s hockey.”

Contact Matt Mackinder at 4

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

Alex Parrish has contributed to the success of this year’s University of Arizona inline hockey team. Check out more inline coverage in this issue on Page 19. Photo/Richard Parrish

ON THE COVER The second annual Flagstaff Dark Sky Tournament will run this summer at Jay Lively Arena and promises to be a fun way for players in all divisions to enjoy some great summertime hockey.


Fun In Flagstaff

Second annual Flagstaff Dark Sky Tournament returning to Jay Lively Arena later this summer By Matt Mackinder


he Flagstaff Dark Sky Tournament is back for an encore performance. Last summer, the event ran at Flagstaff’s Jay Lively Arena and had such positive feedback and parents and players saying it was a unique experience that the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association will be running it again from July 31-Aug. 2. “This is such a cool summer tournament in Flagstaff,” said FYHA treasurer Jamie Miele. “Last year, we had kids from Yuma, Tucson, Las Vegas, Flagstaff and Phoenix Metro. Kids register separately and get placed on a team, which gives these kids the opportunity to meet and play with kids they do not play with in the league teams. This builds camaraderie among our youth that will carry into the regular season. “This tournament is our big fundraiser that helps us keep hockey affordable for everyone in our association, as well as funds our scholarship fund for the coming year.” The inaugural tournament in 2019 provided two days of friendly competition among kids aged 8U through 14U, tournament T-shirts, unique jerseys worn by the players, a food truck, a skills competition, and an “awesome tournament director” in Kyle Palmer, according to Miele. This summer’s tournament will see age groups from 8U on up to 16U with games running in the cross-ice format and teams playing 3-on-3 with two 20-minute periods. Palmer said the idea for the event stemmed from just the idea to give young hockey players something to look forward to individually in the summertime before the grind of the new season kicks in. “Last year was great,” said Palmer. “Kids signed up individually and then were drafted to teams based on their birth year or level of hockey they played in last year. That’s how we’ll do it again this year, keeping the teams fair and as equal as we can. It’s a great way to play competitive hockey with and against kids that maybe you don’t know or only see during the season during AZYHL games or in tournaments. That was the whole idea why we started this, just giving the kids something to do.” After the 2019 tournament, the positive comments came rolling in from participants: • “We had a great time! Thank you for organizing and setting this up. We will see you next year!” • “A lot of fun! Will be there again. Thank you!!” • “Great summer tournament!” Last year’s event had at least one player from every youth hockey organization in the state, plus a handful of players from New Mexico, Las Vegas and Colorado. “We had a lot of fun last year and had a lot of positive feedback, which was 6

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

really good,” said Palmer. “We didn’t have the participation numbers for 16U last year, so we dropped that division, but other than that, the numbers were great. We think they’ll be even bigger this year.” Palmer added that as early as this past fall, people began to ask about the next Dark Sky event. “We would run into people or be talking to people and they would mention that they wanted to participate this year,” said Palmer. “That seemed like a really good thing and now, we expect it to grow and get bigger every year. “It might turn into something where we maybe do it back-to-back weekends. We only have one sheet of ice, so that’s kind of an issue right there, but we think this can be bigger than it already is.” One way the event will change this summer is how the draft will be conducted. Instead of players signing up and being assigned to a team via a draft, Palmer said there will be draft parties July 31 where players will be presented their jerseys, much like at the NHL Draft. “We’re going to push for six teams in each division this year,” explained Palmer. “There will be between five and eight kids for each team.” One unique aspect of the event not taking place on the ice has to do with the actual name of the tournament. The city of Flagstaff holds the distinct honor of being designated by the International Dark Sky Association as the world’s first Dark Sky Community in 2001. One of the city’s requirements to continue to hold this prestigious accreditation is the submission of an annual report. This annual report is completed and submitted by city staff, it is developed in concert and collaboration with the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition. Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory was established in 1894, placing it among the oldest observatories in the United States, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. In 2011, the observatory was named one of “The World’s 100 Most Important Places” by TIME Magazine. It was at the Lowell Observatory that the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. “We’ve always had this thing for like the last 20 years where no lights point up to the sky, so dark sky is what we have in Flagstaff,” Palmer said. “That’s where the name of the tournament came from.” With the tournament some five months away, Palmer said coming to Flagstaff and playing in the event will be an experience second to none for all players and families. “This is such a fun tournament and it’s very competitive,” said Palmer. “Like I said, they get to know kids they wouldn’t play with regularly. It’s a small group sort of thing, so you get to know four, five, six new kids. It’s also something fun to do with hockey in the summertime and offseason.” Participation fees are still being finalized. For more information on the Flagstaff Dark Sky Tournament, visit darksky3v3 for updates as they become available or email


USPHL contributes massive share of NCAA scoring leaders

By Joshua Boyd/


fter countless hours of research in looking at the top 10 scorers and top goaltenders across all of NCAA hockey, it is obvious that the unique, multi-tiered USPHL Development Model has a large and enviable stamp on the top performers of the college game. The league looked at the backgrounds of all players in the top 10 of scoring for their NCAA teams as of late January and early February, along with team’s No. 1 goaltenders (by games played). The conclusions were amazing, as there were more than 110 USPHL alumni in the top 10 of scoring for NCAA Division I teams (this number includes alumni of all USPHL member organizations). More than 370 alumni of the USPHL and its member organizations were among Zack Mirageas PhotoAir Force Athletics the 900-plus top 10 scorers in NCAA Division III hockey. That equals out to more than one-third of all NCAA Division III top 10 scorers having played for organizations currently fielding teams in the USPHL. Shifting our attention to the crease, there were 56 former USPHL goaltenders who led their NCAA team in

games played through the start of February. This number includes an astounding 47 leading goaltenders out of the 91 NCAA Division II and III teams that saw development in the USPHL - more than half of all NCAA DivisioUSPHL players don’t just commit to colleges – they become leaders.

ing or top goaltenders. • Fourteen of the top 15-ranked NCAA Division III teams in the most recent poll also featured USPHL and member organization alumni among their top 10 scorers and top goaltenders.

The detailed research also yielded additional insights into the impact of USPHL players on today’s college game: • As of the end of January, there were 17 alumni of the USPHL and its member organizations who were the top scorers of their NCAA Division I teams, and 25 more were leading their NCAA Division III squads. • More than 40 additional USPHL and member organization alumni were second on their NCAA teams in scoring, putting the total at more than 80 top two scorers nationwide. • Out of the 480-plus top 10 scorers in the NCAA, nearly half of those were ranked in the top five of NCAA teams’ point scoring. • More than 40 top-scoring defensemen ranking among the top 10 for their NCAA teams (including former Islanders Hockey Club blueliner Zack Mirageas, pictured) played in the USPHL and for its member organizations. That equals to one-quarter of all such defensemen in the NCAA game today. • The top 10 scorers for six NCAA Division I teams and 44 NCAA Division III teams consisted of a majority of USPHL and member organization alumni. • Fourteen of the top 20 NCAA Division I teams in the most recent poll featured USPHL and member organization alumni among the top 10 in scor-

Committed Leaders Spotlight: • Top scorer David Farrance, a Boston University defenseman, played for the Syracuse Jr. Stars (now Utica Jr. Comets). Third among all NCAA Division I defensemen. • Maine’s top goal scorer, Tim Doherty, played for the Boston Jr. Bruins and was recently named Hockey East Player of the Month. • Dartmouth’s leading scorer Drew O’Connor played in the NCDC for the Jr. Bruins, and is eighth in ECAC scoring overall. Dartmouth’s leading scorer among defensemen, Tanner Palocsik, was last year’s NCDC Player of the Year with the Jersey Hitmen. • Northeastern’s No. 1 goalie, Craig Pantano, is a former South Shore King. • Former Rochester goaltender Tom Aubrun led all NCAA Division III goaltenders in both goals against average (0.99) and save percentage (.960) at the start of February for Norwich. • Former Hitmen forward Conlan Keenan was fifth in the nation in Division III scoring with 34 points. He’s worn the captain’s “C” for two seasons with SUNY-Geneseo.

To learn more about opportunities in the United States Premier Hockey League, visit

Coyotes, Sharks go One Step Beyond at Cactus Cup event By Matt Mackinder


or the One Step Coyotes and One Step Sharks special hockey programs, playing one another last month at the Arizona Cactus Cup event was truly a milestone. “We had been waiting for this event for a very long time,” said One Step Beyond special programs developer Jared Woosley. “When the two One Step teams met each other for the first time, it was something special to witness. “They became immediate friends over their love for the game of hockey.” Woosley organized the game schedules, press, and events afterward, but said he was hardly the only person working to get everything together. “Holly Tully with the Arizona Cactus cup has been a longtime supporter of our program and its growth, and she was crucial to helping with the travel portion of getting our One Step Sharks and their parents out to Arizona,” Woosley said. “We are so lucky to have her as a part of our family. Jen O’Brian from the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) was also a great help at the event. She flew all the way

from Maine to be with us and show her and ASHA’s support. Jim Curly and Larry Gibson also played very important roles, especially Larry who only played songs by

The Who between play.”

The Arizona Coyotes Street Team “really stepped up,” according to Woosley, providing a blowup slap shot game and ball hockey for all patrons to enjoy. The Phoenix Police Department and Peoria Fire Department also showed up with their trucks and vehicles to show their support, both on and off the ice. “We are very proud of our first responders and their commitment to the special needs community,” noted Woosley. As far as the game itself, when asked about the highlights, Woosley asked where to start. “Oh man, every save, pass and goal scored was an incredibly proud moment for us all,” Woosley said. “On the last day, medals and banners were handed out to both teams who proudly hoisted them around the rink like they had just won the Stanley Cup.” And with the rousing success of the first edition of this game, Woosley said this will surely become an annual event. “Absolutely,” he said. “Without a doubt, we will repeat this next year. We have already been contacted by other special hockey programs who would love to be involved in next year’s Arizona Cactus Cup.”



AHU gearing up for Presidents’ Day, spring tournaments By Sean Phillips


s the 2019-20 hockey season begins to wind down, the Arizona Hockey Union wants to help those that want to keep skating end their seasons on strong notes. Coming up later this month, the association will host its 19th annual Phoenix Presidents’ Day Invitational from Feb. 14-17 at AZ Ice Gilbert, Gila River Arena, Ice Den Chandler, Ice Den Scottsdale, AZ Ice Arcadia and Oceanside Ice Arena. Games will start at 7 a.m. on Feb. 14 and final championship games will have puck drops beginning by 4 p.m. on Feb. 17. Teams are registered in two 8U divisions (A, B), three 10U divisions (AA, A, B), four 12U divisions (Elite, AA, A, B), four 14U divisions (AAA, AA, AA girls, A, B), 16U AAA, 15U AAA, 16U/17U AA, 16U/17U A, and three 18U divisions (AAA, AA, A). The 16U divisions have been changed to include 17U teams to accommodate the Canadian teams participating that have a few 2001 birth years on their rosters. Away from the tournament, teams will have op-

portunities to attend one of two Arizona Coyotes games at Gila River Arena – Feb. 15 against the Washington Capitals and Feb. 17 against the New York Islander. Ticket information is available for those games here:

coyotes-ticket-offers In addition, an NHL-Coyotes alumni game is scheduled for Feb. 16 at Ice Den Chandler. More information on that game is available here: www.presidentsdayhockeytournament. com/page/show/2283759-alumni-game


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

For game results and more information, visit www. Later this spring, the club will get set to host the Spring Into Squirts graduation tournament – the first of its kind in the Valley. According to AHU president Stacy Shupe, this tournament was added since 8U players often have to wait until fall to compete in a full-ice tournament. By adding this event for only 8U players to the catalog of tournaments for the Arizona Hockey Club, the association decided give these players an even playing field to play their first full-ice games competition style. There should be no state affiliate restrictions on travel or playing within the American Development Model since the tournament is held after the conclusion of the USA Hockey National Tournament for Tier II, and that is when age classifications are officially updated for the subsequent season. Clubs from all over are invited to participate in the Spring Into Squirts tournament, which will run April 10-12 with only 2011 birth year teams included. More information is available below or soon at ​​

NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY IceJacks coming together with ACHA playoffs coming up in Idaho By Matt Mackinder


he ACHA Division II season is dwindling down to the final week of the season. Final rankings will be released on Feb. 14, and Northern Arizona University is sitting in ninth in the West Region. The top 12 head to Boise, Idaho, the weekend of Feb. 27-29 where two teams will punch their ticket to the ACHA National Tournament in Dallas. “This is a position we haven’t faced in four years after having an auto-bid the past three years,” NAU head coach Travis Johanson said. “We are going to push the team to be prepared for regionals, as they are going to be pushing each other in practice. We are our best competition. I believe we are in a good place now as a team, re-adjusting after losing some key guys at the half and a couple other guys with season-ending injuries. “The past four games we have played are showing that.” Injuries have certainly hindered the NAU season. “Some of the worst we have ever seen,” said NAU assistant coach Kris Walsh. “We’ve had three guys go down with career-ending should injuries, another clavicle break, a high ankle sprain, and several concussions, but this group has really come together and is constantly improving.” Walsh added that even facing adversity, there have been several players who have stepped up to fill a void in the roster. Lucas Lomax, Alex Shupe and Reise Kieffer graduated in December and two more (Evan Shupe and Rayce Miller) were honored Feb. 8. “These guys combined have played over 400 games in blue and gold, so losing their contributions will be missed,” Walsh said. The IceJacks will be at Jay Lively Arena Feb. 22 at 8 p.m., hosting the Arizona Coyotes Alumni Team. NAU alum Greg Adams will also be in attendance.


Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association presents the

9th Annual Mite Jamboree Track 1 & Track 2 Divisions

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


TOURNAMENT STYLE Sat: 6 game seeding Sun: Tournament Bracket $400 per team

Contact for more information


Gretzky & Einstein: Geniuses who thought outside the box U

nlike college and professional football, offensive creativity in hockey comes mainly from players, and each year it is increasingly “coached” out of the game. Avoiding mistakes has become the highest priority, even at the youth level where the need to win eliminates creative trial and error. Not only do coaches insist on simplistic, structured hockey (chip it out, dump it in, keep it simple), but our educational system joins them to discourage “childish” creativity. Consider how foolish we are as a nation to fall for the current dogma that memorization of facts actually constitutes an education. Those who memorize best and repeat like robots on standardized tests are called “A students.” We forget that rebels like Albert Einstein were the ones who actually changed history, and Wayne Gretzky did 10 things a shift the coach never thought of. No wonder Washington politicians have no new answers for old problems. No one has the courage, or educational background, to think outside the box. Actually, that looks a lot like hockey in 2019 while at the same time, football coaches are coming up with offenses that are more creative than ever.

Walter Isaacson, who wrote the biography “Albert Einstein, His Life and Universe,” decries any educational system that stifles non-conformity: “Of all the disservice we do our students, perhaps the most critical is demanding that they fit.” Keep that in mind when your Pee Wee forwards try something unheard of, and

turn it over at the offensive blue line, or a fourth grade math student asks, “Why should I learn long division if I will never use it again after fourth grade?” Maybe they’re right and the system is wrong. We coaches are entrusted with the development of ambitious youngsters with lofty dreams. But we

limit those dreams by removing the element of trial and error. How can another young Gretzky develop unbridled creativity in our highly-structured youth programs? There are too many trophies, too much hype from parents, too much pressure to avoid mistakes. No doubt, creativity can still blossom in a pond hockey scrimmage, where 10-year-olds learn new moves from older brothers, where the only stakes are bragging rights at the dinner table, and mistakes mean nothing. Coaches and teachers are more likely to develop genius talent by acknowledging that Wayne Gretzky’s brilliance was that he did things the coach never drew up on the board, or that Einstein frustrated teachers with his distaste for conformity. It was because he thought outside the box that Einstein changed the direction of physics with revolutionary insights into the equivalence of mass and energy and his Theory of Relativity. Einstein believed, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” a thought that should be stenciled on every drill book and lesson plan. For coaches, it means that constant reminders about mistakes might prevent a turnover today, while discouraging a creative playmaker tomorrow. The impact players in hockey have always been those who learned the game by creative experimentation, and mistakes are part of the process.

Jack Blatherwick is a columnist for Let’s Play Hockey.



Former NHLer McCosh settling in as Jr. Sun Devils coach By Matt Mackinder


hawn McCosh first came to Arizona when he was playing for the Phoenix Roadrunners pro team that was the top affiliate for the Los Angeles Kings. Now, he’s come full circle by having spent the last several years coaching youth hockey in the Valley, including the 2019-20 season with the DYHA Jr. Sun Devils. “I have been friends and teammates with (Jr. Sun Devils hockey director) Brad McCaughey for a long time and I like the coaching staff and people he has surrounded himself with at DYHA,” said McCosh, who coaches the 12U AA Maroon team and his son Masen this year. “I am also a fan of the skills coach Jason Wright and what he is doing here. “It has been a great experience as both the kids and parents have been very appreciative of the things I am teaching, and they have understood and embraced a positive culture and atmosphere that shows development.” Originally from Oshawa, Ont., McCosh played four years of junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League and then enjoyed a 10-year pro career that included nine games in the NHL with the Kings and New York Rangers. “I think about how fortunate I was to have a long playing career and all the great coaches and players I played with,” McCosh said. “I feel fortunate that I was taught from some of the best coaches and players what

it takes to win and how to create a strong winning culture. I learned later in my career the nuances of being on a winning team and what kind of culture, compete and details that great coaches and players pay attention to. “I learned every day from a lot of great players and coaches and feel fortunate looking back to now being

Current DYHA 12U AA Maroon coach Shawn McCosh played four years of junior hockey and 10 years in the professional ranks, including three seasons with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms.

able to pass that on to the kids I coach.” Once his playing career ended after the 1999-2000 season, McCosh knew he wanted to stay involved in the game. That’s where the youth game came into play. “I have always liked teaching, as I have been a mid-


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

dle school history teacher for the last 14 years,” said McCosh. “I like teaching kids who are appreciative and willing to learn the nuances in hockey that can help them grow as a player and good teammate. The kids I coach this year have been so appreciative and willing to learn everything presented. I have enjoyed teaching kids how to compete and do the things that will help them be successful. Teaching kids the nuances and the aspects of being a good teammate and professional is rewarding, as you see them understand how to win through culture and being good pros. “Being a good pro and understanding the role that culture plays in this sport are two traits that every highlevel coach looks for and can be the difference between playing for a bit and playing for a long time. I think it is never too young to teach these aspects of the game and ingrain them into their personality.” McCosh also noted that being a part of the DYHA program has meant being immersed with “some good coaches and good people here.” “They are an organization that treats their coaches well and has a vision to keep growing in ways to develop kids and create a positive culture,” said McCosh. “Brad has been very good to me personally and has trusted my ability to create a culture and atmosphere that represents DYHA in a very positive way. “DYHA has been a positive move for my family and the development of my son. I am looking forward to coaching here and having another productive year in 2020-21.”

Making the Grade


Tahoe Prep Academy boasts a solid academic plan that works, both on and off the ice By Greg Ball


ny young hockey player or parent of a child who aspires to play high-level hockey and pursue a junior or college career knows the struggle of trying to balance travel with academics. Kids can find themselves commuting an hour or more each direction to practices and games, eating into their study time and forcing them to complete homework assignments in the backseat of their cars. Missing classes to travel to far-flung tournaments can exacerbate the issue, and before you know it, a kid is forced to choose between success on the ice and excelling in the classroom. Fortunately for the approximately 50 young men who come from all over the United States and some other countries to attend Tahoe Prep Academy, they don’t have to choose. At Tahoe Prep, student-athletes walk from their dorm rooms and classrooms to the rink and are on the ice at least five times a week. A unique combination of traditional in-person classes and online learning gives them the flexibility to keep up with their studies whether they’re at home or on the road. The setup has proved to be beneficial for the academy’s student-athletes ever since Tahoe Prep opened in 2016, putting them in position to maintain the types of grade-point averages needed to attract the interest of college coaches and help them earn admission into the schools of their dreams. “Ever since Tahoe Prep Academy was just a vision in our heads, we knew that the two cornerstones of building a successful academy were going to be hockey and academics,” said Tahoe Prep athletic director Mike Lewis, who helped found the academy alongside Leo Fenn, Chris Collins, and others. “Our thought process was that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Our model may be a bit different than what most kids and families are used to, but we’ve felt from the beginning that it was the right way to approach it, and as we near the end of our fourth academic year, we think the proof is in the pudding.” Tahoe Prep Academy boasts five students who currently maintain a grade-point average of 4.0 and three students with 3.8s. Several other members of the Tahoe Prep community came to the academy struggling with their academic performance, and many of those are now regularly posting GPAs of 3.0 or higher. The student-athletes with 4.0 GPAs include Bobby Doukov, Drew Mazza, Zach Turner, Liam Sutton and Ellis O’Dowd. Students maintaining 3.8s include Kai Schumann, Aidan Brink and Jonathan Gunn.

The founders of Tahoe Prep Academy knew they needed to create an environment that allowed students to thrive on the ice and in the classroom. With a blended block schedule of on-the-ice daily training, face-to-face classes and top-notch online instruction, Tahoe Prep students are not only maintaining high GPAs, but they are raising the bar. Students take core academic classes with online instructors to accommodate their extensive travel schedule, and their electives are completed in the classrooms at South Tahoe High School - which offers a wide range of career technical choices on their college-like campus, from sports medicine to film

making and more. The Tahoe Prep Academy is a place where student-athletes are encouraged to develop and cultivate their character. The academy’s programs are made for the most dedicated student-athletes and provide an excellent environment to be challenged and learn as they expand their views of the world and champion the core attributes that define true leadership. The result is a student-athlete poised to compete in a world-class environment, and one who has gained

the necessary education to attend the country’s most premier higher-educational institutions. At Tahoe Prep Academy, administrators look for student-athletes who have a strong commitment to themselves as well as to their academics and athletic and personal growth. Student-athletes must be diligent in their school, sport and community duties, with a willingness to give their all in each area. Outside the classroom, Tahoe Prep Academy’s hockey program is the West Coast’s first residential boarding school dedicated to the sport of ice hockey. The academy’s student-athletes graduate with the technical skills, game-level hockey IQ and the strategic awareness that is crucial to succeeding at the next levels. With academics being of utmost importance, the academy’s leadership ensures ample time both in the classroom and on the ice, with up to 300 hours of development hockey training in a single academic year. By training like a collegiate program, Tahoe Hockey Academy’s graduates are better suited for success at the next levels by having the qualifications and the skill set to match. “The overarching goal in everything we do day in and day out is to prepare the young men who enroll here for success in their adult lives,” said Fenn, who serves as the varsity head coach. “To achieve that, we ensure that the leave our campus with an outstanding academic foundation and the discipline, work ethic and all the other values that come from playing a sport to put them in position to succeed in hockey and in life. “We’re confident in the model that we have laid out, and it has been extremely rewarding to see the results of our efforts just four years into this amazing project. We have set the tone for success, and we can’t wait to see where this leads us in the future.” At Tahoe Prep, young hockey players are challenging the status quo and finding new ways to approach an old problem - balancing a challenging academic course load with the demands of training to compete at a high level and traveling to face the best competition. The approach seems to be working, and the results are indisputable as Tahoe Prep Academy is producing top-notch student-athletes in the truest definition of the term. Photos/Ed Fritz



ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY ASSOCIATION Congratulations to the AHSHA 2019-20 Individual Award Winners!

Shane Doan Leadership Award, Division 1: Will Cooley, Desert Vista

Shane Doan Leadership Award, Division 2: Clayton Garnier, Corona

Shane Doan Leadership Award, Division 3: Josh Loeffler, Horizon

Scott Gower Memorial Scholarship: Ben Ouellette, Mesquite, Division 2

Stephen Daniel Demchik Scholarship: Alec Roberts, Shadow Ridge, Division 3


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine


CAHA ahead of the curve with goalie development By Matt Mackinder


at Conacher, Scott Munroe and Mike Nepsa were all goaltenders during their playing days, and all three are now focused on guiding and training the next wave of goalies coming out of the Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA). Each coach believes youth hockey should be geared to development, something CAHA thrives in, year in and year out. “Every team in our travel organization receives goalie coaching once per week, with the option of getting additional goalie coaching,” said Nepsa, the Jr. Coyotes goaltending director. “We also provide goalie-specific coaching during our spring and summer programs and goalie-only clinics for the Coyotes Development Program (CDP) house program goalies. “We take pride in our program, knowing that our goalies are an extremely important piece to team success.” Conacher, Munroe and Nepsa all bring unique backgrounds as well. For Conacher, the goaltending coach for the Arizona Bobcats, he was born in Calgary and said he became a goalie “because of the gear.” “The brown pads were declining, and goalies started getting colors and patterns on them and masks, too.,” Conacher said. “As I got older, I wanted to play the whole game. Never wanted to sit on the bench. Then I would say it transformed into wanting to be the starter and clutch guy. Wanting to be ‘the man’ type of thing.”

Conacher, who played junior hockey in Canada, add- explained Nepsa. “Goalies have to constantly repeat this ed that his advice for aspiring goalies is to not focus on process countless times in a game, which is why I believe the goalie needs to be the best skater on the team.” just hockey. Nepsa credits fellow CAHA goalie coaches Grant “Play multiple sports as long as you can,” said Conacher. “Build your athleticism. No other sport in particu- Lyon, Sean Slavik and Munroe for all being on the lar, just play. Build your hand-eye coordination and foot same page. Munroe started as a goalie in speed.” Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and Nepsa, who grew up in the later played NCAA Division I at the Pittsburgh area and played in college, immediately took to Penguins University of Alabama Huntsville and for several years in the Philagoalie Johan Hedberg during the delphia Flyers organization. 2000-01 season. He’s now in his first season “While Hedberg was the reaserving as the CDP Chandler dison I started to play the position, rector. Marc-Andre Fleury certainly kept “As the new kid on the block, me in the net, and I owe my passion I have been fortunate to join the for the game to each of those two CAHA team,” Munroe said. “We Penguin goaltenders,” said Nepsa. have a great group of people here “They were more than idols to me. who are truly dedicated to growing They were the reason I found goaltending and the reason I fell in love Jr. Coyotes goaltending director Mike Nepsa, pic- the game of hockey in Arizona. It is tured between Jr. Coyotes 16U AA goalie Hunter great to have such passionate and with the game. “I am living my dream working Hein and Jr. Coyotes 16U AAA goalie Michael Brown, knowledgeable goalie coaches to says ‘our goalies are an extremely important piece to work with. While a lot of my time in hockey, coaching goalies, and team success.’ is committed to our Chandler CDP building the future netminders of program and working with our goalies there, I am happy the Valley.” to help where I can to grow the goalie community here. He also feels goalies should be quality skaters. “I think that having three goalie coaches within our “In the big picture, the goaltender has to make extremely precise movements, as fast as possible to put organization is a huge benefit for our program and a real his or her body in the right position to make the save,” luxury.”

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AZ ICE ARCADIA AZ Ice Arcadia, VOSHA Titans partner up to increase 8U growth By Moriah Hernandez


n an effort to expand hockey at the youngest level, the VOSHA Titans and AZ Ice Arcadia continue to work together to create an atmosphere that breeds growth and development but also fun for these kids from their first hockey experience on. The rink and its youth hockey organization have partnered up to put on another Try Hockey for Free event to be held on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 1:20-2:20 p.m. This event is open to kids ages 4-9 who would like to give hockey a try. Cost-free, this event allows kids to get dressed in full hockey gear and take the ice for an introductory lesson to ice skating and hockey. Titans players and coaches will be in attendance to help guide participants through their first hockey experience, on and off the ice. All participants will be able to take home their hockey stick and prizes courtesy of USA Hockey and their sponsors. AZ Ice Arcadia and the Titans put the utmost value on programs like this as it gives every child the opportunity to at least try this sport regardless of the child’s background. Both consider the youngest level of players to be the foundation of the sport. The rink and the Titans have a combined goal to double their Mites and Mini Mites programs over the next year. There are a variety of stepping stones in place at AZ Ice Arcadia for beginner kids progressing at all different paces. The rink offers both introductory skating lessons through its Learn to Skate program as well as a Learn to Play class called Junior Titans geared toward beginner to intermediate players ages 4 and up. This spring and summer season, Arcadia will also have Little Howlers and Howlers Second Stride programs run by the Arizona Coyotes. For more information on the Try Hockey for Free event or recommendations on introductory hockey, contact Justin Rogers at


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine


Barkov, Barber Put HockeyShot Synthetic Ice to the Test


uesday, January 29, 2019. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For the first time in history, a pro hockey shootout happened on a beach! The sun was out, temperatures reached 70 degrees and HockeyShot put on a historic match between an NHL superstar and a stickhandling YouTube star. Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov took to the Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice to go toe to toe with Pavel Barber after the two engaged in a war of words on social media all week. With a crowd watching on, a panel of judges and one sweaty goalie – trying his best to not be intimidated – the two stars took turns making smooth moves on the Synthetic Ice panels to showcase you can truly play ICE hockey anywhere! Watching Barkov and Barber go head to head in this shootout shows why more players, coaches and trainers choose HockeyShot Synthetic Ice panels for all their training needs. There are a few different synthetic ice surfaces on the market, but we are confident that after trying out the HockeyShot Synthetic Ice – Extreme Glide panels you will agree with the many different players and coaches that have given us their No. 1 recommendation. The Synthetic Ice is the absolute best way to train off the ice because you can practice any time. Whether you are indoors or outdoors, the sun is shining, or the lights need to be turned on, HockeyShot has you covered for all your training needs. HockeyShot Synthetic Ice will last 7-10 years per side! That means, with proper care, you can have at least 14-20 years of home training and play time with these

panels. That is sure to take a load off your mind in terms of durability, longevity and bang for your buck. Another reason the Synthetic Ice is a step above the rest is the self-lubricating polymer. This means that you aren’t spending a lot of time or effort in trying to push and get that natural feel and no need f o r any waxes or add-on liquids.

HockeyShot Synthetic Ice is also super easy to install. They come in 4’x4’ or 4’x8’ sheets which are lightweight enough for most people to carry on their own. In fact, our team was spotted carrying up to three at a time when they installed the surface on the beach in Florida. Our Interlocking Dovetail panels significantly outperform traditional spline and square-edge styles and require no extra tools or equipment. You can take the customization one step further by sawing one tile in half to fill in the extra corners and

nooks of your home basement hockey training setup. Another great way to maximize your at-home hockey training setup is to add some shooting tarps and aids to help get you in the scoring zone. The Crowd Goes Wild Shooting Tarp is one of our favorites to help transform your basement into the stadium of your dreams. It’s every players’ dream to have an efficient and durable at-home training area. With HockeyShot Synthetic Ice, this dream can be a reality. Perfect for any garage, basement or backyard, the Synthetic Ice is the absolute best way to help make sure your game stays in top shape. Have no doubts that HockeyShot products are the best on the market with players such as pro ambassador Aleksander Barkov and stickhandling specialist Pavel Barber recommending them as well as our other testimonials from renowned coaches, players and trainers. When it comes to HockeyShot, you are getting the highest quality product and best athome hockey training aids out there. Enjoy this article? Then be sure to visit and sign up for their newsletter to get updated on the latest sales, tips, tricks and the best hockey training products on the market! Don’t forget to email to save 10% on your first quote.



Yuma festival opens new IHAAZ season to positive reviews By Brian Lester


he first IHAAZ festival of the weekend proved to be an event that serves as a reminder of what the league and the tournaments are all about. The opener was played in Yuma over the Feb. 7-9 weekend and tournament director Nick Boyarsky was pleased with the results. “A lot of work goes into the planning and implementation of an IHAAZ season,” Boyarsky said. “Getting 30-plus teams registered, securing dates, ordering medals, getting the stats and standings ready, all of it is a grind. Seeing an event like this go off without a hitch, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, hearing the parents cheer, watching those nail-biter games, that’s the fun part.” And there was plenty of excitement as well across all five divisions. In 8U, the Outlaws, a new program from the East Valley of Phoenix, made a memorable debut, winning the title. The Jr. Wildcats, the reigning division champions, finished second. “I think it’s great there is someone to give the very strong Jr. Wildcats team a run this season,” Boyarsky said. At the 10U level, the Peoria Knighthawks rolled to championship. The Outlaws were the runner-up. Boyarsky said it’s looking like the Knighthawks could be the team to beat this season in the 10U age group. While 8U and 10U play a tournament format at each of the festivals, the remaining three age groups (12U, 14U and 18U) teams are vying for position in the standings at

each festival leading up to the IHAAZ State Finals in May. The Jr. Wildcats Blue dominated the opening weekend in 12U and are poised to be the leaders. However, they still haven’t faced a very strong Knighthawks 12U team. They went 3-0 and held a 27-14 edge in goals over their three opponents. The Outlaws are 3-1 and have outscored their opponents 30-8. “The favorite right now is looks to be the undefeated Jr.

Kennedy Park in Yuma was the site for the season-opening IHAAZ festival, which was contested over the Feb. 7-9 weekend. Photo/IHAAZ

Wildcats and their go-to player Eli Shulman, who proved this weekend he can take over a game and change the outcome,” Boyarsky said. Nothing will come easy in the 12U division, according to Boyarsky. “I think one of the best divisions will be 12U,” he said. “There are a lot of great matchups and talent. All eight teams


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

will have someone to compete with and give them a game.” The 14U division could be the tightest one as three teams went 3-1 over the weekend and are tied for first. The Royals have the lead technically with the tiebreaker (number of goals scored), but there is a long way to go before champion is decided. The Royals have outscored their opponents 26-11. “At the Midget level, the Knighthawks, Blaze and Yeti appear to be the teams to beat, but regular-season success doesn’t always translate to winning a state title,” said Boyarsky. The Knighthawks currently lead the division with a 3-0 record, scoring 16 goals and allowing just three in the first festival. The Blaze is 3-1 and has outscored the opposition 20-7 while the Yetis and Storm are both 2-2. “As this division has proven time and time again, the regular-season winner is not always the state finals champ,” Boyarsky said. “I think we have three or four teams that could take home the big one at the end of the season.” As much as the players enjoyed the experience of playing roller hockey, they had just as much fun soaking up the atmosphere that a festival has to offer. “You might have a few hours between games, but you basically stick around the rink, watch the other games, hang out with your teammates and their families,” Boyarsky said. “The area in the park around the rink was littered with popup canopies and families just making a day of the event. The Yuma festival just has its own vibe with the Yuma Blaze-run Tri-Tip BBQ going the whole time. There’s awesome food right there. You don’t even really need to leave.”



Rogers excelling at Tahoe Prep after move from Montana By Greg Ball


or Braylon Rogers, the opportunity to advance his hockey development and challenge himself academically at Tahoe Prep Academy was a no-brainer. A 16-year-old junior who plays goalie for Tahoe Prep’s varsity team, he is in his first year with the academy after relocating from his native Montana and a little more than five months into his time in Tahoe, he feels confident he made the right decision. He previously played for the Billings Jr. Bulls in Montana’s largest city and was introduced to Tahoe Prep during a CCM Showcase event in Denver last year. After a visit to the magnificent lakeside campus, he knew he was destined to wear the purple and white. “I really liked it right off the bat, and it felt like a good environment for me to continue to develop,” Rogers said. “I’d like to move on to the next level in my hockey career, and I knew that if I wanted to get serious about that, I would have to leave Montana to improve. I think that it has worked out really well. It’s a lot smaller here than Billings, but it’s the same type of environment living in the forest with tall trees.” Rogers started playing hockey at the early age of 4, and first tried playing goalie during his Pee Wee years. On the Tahoe Prep varsity team, Rogers said he’s enjoying the new level of competition in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League and the

San Jose Sharks High School League. In the Sharks league, he had played eight games through mid-February and had a record of 4-0-1 with 98 saves and a 2.42 goals-against average, and he has also excelled in the Ducks league. “The hockey in these two leagues is

work on stick handling and playing the puck more. I’m kind of a rink rat, so being on the ice every day is perfect for me.” Rogers said that the academic approach at Tahoe Prep has been a great fit for him as well. With a blend of traditional classroom learning at Tahoe South High School and online classes, he is able to keep up with his academic workload even with traveling all over California for games. “My grades have improved since I’ve come to Tahoe Prep, and that makes my parents really happy,” Rogers said. “We get a lot of help from our academic advisors to stay on track, and I five times better than it Montana native Braylon Rogers has taken his game between the pipes to take advantage of our another level since arriving at Tahoe Prep Academy. Photo/Ed Fritz was in Montana – the study halls. There’s competition is a lot faster and more skilled,” Rogers said, just a lot more support here than you typically find at adding that being able to spend five days a week on the your average public school. ice every week of the season has played a big part in “Tahoe Prep is a good place to develop on the ice helping him improve his skills quickly. “My strengths are and off the ice. Being here has definitely helped me angles and tracking the puck, and I know that I need to achieve my academic goals and my goals on the ice.”

NEW MEXICO REPORT Lobos looking to finish strong, NAHL’s Ice Wolves building for gain momentum for ’20-21 season ’20-21 with recent tender signings By Matt Mackinder

By Matt Mackinder



or the University of New Mexico, finishing the 2019-20 season on a strong note is key to the Lobos having a more successful season a year from now. “The team is playing good and playing the hockey I knew we could,” UNM coach Grant Harvey said. “We played some great hockey this second half of the season. We will wrap up the season looking a lot different than when we started. “My expectations for this year are to finish strong the rest of the season. Postseason play is frankly out of the question, but we can set a standard of play for the rest of the season that would be a great lead to the next season. I feel like we can win our remaining games and rest our heads high as we played an extremely tough schedule on purpose. It will pay dividends down the road for us.” Harvey said although the season went well, he was faced with challenges along the way. “I had to deal with the perils of eight freshmen budgeting their time between, school, work and hockey, and sometimes not in that order,” said Harvey. “We also suffered from what I call ‘senior high school slumber,’ and that goes for on the ice and off the ice. I believe the senior year for incoming freshmen is too easy. The level of hockey is too easy, and they are used to being the cat’s meow and mistakes aren’t nearly as costly as they are in college, so they can get accustomed to bad habits. “It took a good 10 games to get my defensemen to stop pinching. Opposing teams were blowing their doors as off as they tried to hold the blue line and they would chip it off the boards and go right around them, surrendering a disgusting amount of breakaways. We finally stopped the pinching and the bleeding stopped.” According to Harvey, noteworthy freshman players for the Lobos this season include forwards Jared Carnes (Los Alamos) and Garrett McKinstry (Rio Rancho), converted defensemen Tylec Kohlrust (Rio Rancho) and Leandro Richert (Hungary) and goaltender Sam Fisher (Los Alamos). 18

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

he NAHL’s New Mexico Ice Wolves are hoping a successful 2019-20 season on and off the ice will mean more highlights for the 2020-21 season. In recent weeks, the Ice Wolves have signed a pair of players to tender agreements as forwards Tylor Greene and Micah Maldonando are in the team’s plans for next season. “I went to New Mexico’s main camp this past summer and then I went to New Mexico over Christmas break and played against the Amarillo Bulls,” said Greene, currently with the Colorado Springs Tigers’ 18U AAA team. “The coaching staff with New Mexico is great and the players work hard every day. It creates a great environment. The facilities are very nice, and the team has a very committed ownership.” “We are very excited about signing Tylor to a tender agreement,” said Ice Wolves coach-GM Phil Fox. “He is a 200-foot player with great instincts all over the ice. With his high hockey IQ and compete level, we think he can be an impact player for our organization going forward. He thinks and plays the game at a high level and he is the type player we want here in New Mexico.” Maldonado plays for the Dallas Stars’ 18U AAA team and is already looking forward to the future. “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity and when I met the boys, I knew it was a special team to play for,” said Maldonado. “I chose the Ice Wolves because I’ve known (associate coach-assistant GM) Keenan Kelly for a long time and when I heard he was coming to New Mexico, I had to come down and see what it was all about.” “Micah is a forward who has great hockey IQ,” added Fox. “He does all the things we are looking for in a player. Plays with speed, size, and is puck savvy. He makes the players around him better and is very hard to play against. We saw him at our main camp and knew we wanted to tender him for next year.”

NAU riding Guzman’s scoring streak to WCRHL success By Phillip Brents


through 11 games of the team’s 2019-20 Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL) schedule. NAU rolled to a 5-1 start in its opening six games this season by averaging 10 goals per game. Guzman averaged nearly seven points per game during the team’s hot start. He collected 11 goals and 18 points in five games

orthern Arizona University freshman Jaden Guzman seemingly reached the pinnacle of his inline hockey career when he won a gold medal for the United States Junior Men’s National Team while competing at the 2018 International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) World Championship tournament in Italy. Guzman recorded one goal and two assists in the 6-2 championship game victory against host Italy. “The USA junior team was the best experience of my life – playing in front of a huge crowd and showcasing our skill to every country that we would face,” Guzman said. “The competitiveness around the world is remarkable and shows that roller is huge all around and people have the amazing talent to represent their country.” But there appears to be a few more things left on his bucket list before he hangs up his skates, namely winning regional and national championships with the Lumberjacks. “Our goal for this year is to win nationals for NAU roller and try to get a rink on campus dedicated for us and all our hard work,” Guzman said. Guzman has certainly put in his share of hard work as one of the more recognized – and highly decorated – players at NARCh events while Northern Arizona University freshman Jaden Guzman has emerged as growing up. the top collegiate inline players in the nation. Photo/World Inline Skate Guzman earned high scorer honors at January’s NARCh Winternationals in Huntington Beach, Ca- at the WCRHL’s regular-season event Feb. 1-2 at the lif., after leading his club team, Konixx Nitrous, to a gold Barney Family Sports Complex in Queen Creek. medal in the 18U Platinum Division. The Lumberjacks logged a 2-2-1 showing at the Perhaps to no one’s surprise, Guzman paces the Queen Creek event to improve to 7-3-0-1 on the seaLumberjacks in scoring with 32 goals and 58 points son and, in the process, move two standings points be-

hind second place Chico State (with one game in hand) in the WCRHL’s Division II standings. There’s no question that Guzman can put the puck in the net – and also dish it out. He made his presence felt in the scorebook in his very first WCRHL regular-season game by collecting five goals and one assist in a 9-6 win over CSU Fullerton, last season’s Division II national champion. In fact, he earned First Star of the Game honors in four of his team’s opening five wins of the season. “Playing at the college level is a lot different from playing NARCh, TORHS or FIRS,” Guzman said. “The competitiveness isn’t all the same and all the teams aren’t always going to be good, but it’s a lot of fun to keep my legs moving while the rest of the roller season is still going on. “For any team I play for, I am willing to lead them to the best of my ability. The group of guys that we have at NAU are all very talented and know how to play the game very well.” Trevor Scott follows Guzman on the Lumberjacks’ score sheet with 20 goals and 41 points. Max Reeves has collected 21 goals and 40 points while Brayden Kohler has notched 14 goals and 32 points. Kohler and Reeves joined Guzman on the Team USA roster at the 2018 FIRS World Chamone of pionships, so there’s no question that NAU has the talent to compete at the elite level. Teams wrap up regular-season play Feb. 15-16 in Huntington Beach. The WCRHL regionals are scheduled March 7-8 in Corona, Calif., followed by the national championships April 15-19 in Fort Myers, Fla.

Wildcats claw opponents at Queen Creek inline tourney By Phillip Brents


ll four of the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League’s (WCRHL) Arizona-based programs were in action for the Feb. 1-2 regular-season event at the Barney Family Sports Complex in Queen Creek. The University of Arizona appeared to make the largest gain by winning all four of their games to move into second place in the Division III standings. It was a big turnaround for the Wildcats after posting an 0-3 showing at their previous regular-season event Dec. 7-8 at their home rink in Tucson. Arizona showed some mettle by topping Colorado State 6-2 in an inter-regional match-up to face off second semester play. It turned out the Wildcats were just starting to roll when they doubled up Division III leader Cal Poly Pomona 4-2 in their next game. The Wildcats made up ground on another division rival by rolling past UCLA 9-2 in their third tournament game. The Wildcats closed out the weekend with perhaps an even bigger win over Pomona by edging the front-running Broncos 5-4 in overtime. “It was a big weekend for U of A with a completely in-division schedule,” WCRHL director Brennan Edwards assessed. “The Tucson event was tough, playing three games against teams in higher divisions. It wasn’t unexpected that U of A defeated UCLA and Colorado State, but the two wins against Cal Poly Pomona were huge.” Newcomer Tyler Pear earned first star of the game honors with one goal and three assists in the second win over Pomona. He drew the assist on Alex Cadieux’s OT game-winner. Kyle Smith tops the Wildcats in season scoring

with 14 goals and 25 points in 11 games, followed by Saahil Ahuja with 11 goals and 21 points. Cadieux and club president Alex Parrish are tied for third in team scoring with 14 points while Connor Bottrill has logged 13 points.

The University of Arizona inline hockey team has taken a teamfirst approach this season and Griffin Sherwood has been a key cog in the Wildcats’ lineup. Photo/Richard Parrish

Ethan Zorbas played all four games between the pipes at the Queen Creek event for the Wildcats while posting a .883 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average. He has one shutout this season. The four wins raised the Wildcats’ record to 8-3 on the season with 16 standings points – three standings points behind Pomona (9-4-0-1) with three games in hand.

Teams play 16 regular-season games. The top four of seven teams in the Division III standings qualify for the WCRHL’s regional championship tournament March 7-8 in Corona, Calif. The division standings should be finalized at the WCRHL’s final regular-season event Feb. 15-16 in Huntington Beach, Calif. “After an undefeated weekend, we are really feeling like everything is clicking,” Parrish said. “We have a great team down here who all have the same goal and are young (freshmen and sophomores), meaning they will be around to continue the traditions and culture we have down here in Tucson. “The attitude is great. We have talented guys who are committed to being at the rink, workouts and team meetings and have the drive to take home the conference championship. Looking ahead to nationals, we expect nothing short of bringing home our program’s first national title.” All four of the WCRHL’s Division II teams will compete in the league’s regional championship tournament, meaning that Grand Canyon University will get to taste playoff action in its start-up season. The fledgling Antelopes are 2-9 in their opening 11 games but seem to be closing the gap on the competition after posting a narrow 9-6 setback to CSU Fullerton (last year’s Division II national champion) at the Queen Creek event. Drew Murchison leads CGU in team scoring with 13 goals and 24 points in 11 games. Arizona State University (11-1) and Fullerton (7-6-01) will meet in a best-of-three playoff series to determine this year’s WCRHL Division I champion. ASU defeated Fullerton 4-2 at the Queen Creek event.



Need to focus on team branding? Contact BTM Team Sales T

eam branding is very important. How you look on and off the ice can be a big factor in the unity of the players, coaches on the ice, and parents in the stands. Behind The Mask’s Team Sales division has worked with nuExelby merous associations across the state and U.S. with a focus on meeting the needs of each of their individual views on the look of their brand and hockey needs. Finding the right look can be difficult with so many different companies offering a wide variety of custom options. We have focused on simplifying the process and offering the best products available each season. Your team needs are important, and we offer a wide range of products to meet them. Jerseys, socks, gloves, helmets, pants, apparel and team accessories are just a few of the offerings available to BTM Team Sales customers. As many of you (sometimes painfully) know, the best laid-out planning and designing are some-

times for naught when unforeseen issues arise in production, customs, or delivery. Through it all, we have always fought for our customers and their needs and have always felt that our customers are more important than our bottom line. We work with brands like Bauer, CCM, Warrior, Champro, Winnwave, Kewl and many others to get the best pricing and programs available. Last year, we introduced a new event at our Scottsdale store, by invitation only, to all of the Arizona High School Hockey Association programs. Coaches and team managers were invited to get a first look at the new team products available. BTM staff and company reps were on hand to speak with each organization and help answer any questions they had on the products prior to ordering or to bring back the information they gathered to help ease the headache or choosing which products to order.

This year, the BTM Teams Sales Expo is getting a larger invite list where all the associations in the state with be invited out to add to a larger festive feel, much like our Smashfest or Goalie Day events. This event is by invitation only and is only available to previous organizations that have purchased from BTM Team Sales. Last year’s event included raffles and prizes for coaches and managers that were in attendance. U.S. Team Sales manager Beau Saugling, in his first year in his new role, has surpassed all expectations of the teams he has help. We thank all our associations in their understanding of the transition and appreciate the outstanding feedback they have provided on the wonderful job he has done. To outfit your team with the best jerseys, apparel, equipment and supplies, contact Beau Saugling via email at

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

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

Coyotes going ‘inch by inch’ looking for playoff berth at home on Feb. 4, the Coyotes managed only one victory in a string of nine games. In that period, their lofty position in the Western Conference sunk and by early February, they found themselves on the Stanley Cup bubble. Going forward, that 3-0 win at home over the Oilers foreshadowed a window to the remaining weeks of the season. In order to traverse through the maze

“Many division games will look like that,” said Arizona defenseman Alex Goligoski, in reference to ixty. intense play down the stretch. “These games will be That’s a number that should be ingrained in the tight-checking and not a lot of rushes and rush plays hockey souls of each member of the Arizona Coyotes. either way. So, sure, there will be many games like That number represents minutes in a game and if that.” the Coyotes are to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs For the Coyotes to be successful over the final for the first time since 2012, the specter of 60 looms weeks, they need to limit opposing opportunities and imperative. Between now and Game 82 in early would be wise to take a page from the Oilers April, there can be no passengers and no excuses. games. As well, coach Rick Tocchet began to The intensity of games down the stretch escalates match role players to the strength of opponents. and each shift becomes magnified. Efforts now For success to come, pressure on top players from every player demand a full 60-minute game, of the opposition is critical. Against the Oilers, a 200-foot effort and a heightened concentration Tocchet put Brad Richardson to shadow Conlevel. nor McDavid and positioned Christian Dvorak That’s because the NHL schedule has hit a rathto follow Leon Draisaitl. In that game, McDavid, er critical stage, and several teams find themselves who topped the Oilers in ice time, recorded only dancing on the playoff bubble. Over the course of three shots on net while Draisaitl picked up four the season, the Coyotes tasted first place on sevshots on net. eral occasions in the Pacific Division, and how to At the same time, the nature of team needs to succeed in the stretch run should dominate their be evident. attention. “When we simplify, we’re real dangerous,” “It’s the second half now and everything goes Coyotes forward Derek Stepan said. “Starts inch by inch,” said Coyotes forward Lawson with simple plays and going north with it quickly. Crouse. “When you take a look at the standThat’s been the staple for us for a little while here. ings, everyone is climbing, and everyone is here. Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller has been among the team’s top Our four lines are a big part of why we have been So when you get a lead, you really need to lock scorers for much of the season with 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points able to have success. If you want to be a playoff it in and continue to play the same way that you through 55 games.Photo/Norm Hall team, you have to make your building very difficult. grabbed that lead. Can’t change of other clubs, that reality of playing a full 60 minutes We’ve done a good job of tilting our rink. We had a From the opening week of January and through ear- becomes critical. slower start to the season on home ice and I think ly February, the Coyotes exhibited an uneasy stretch. Two factors emerged as important and dictate we’ve done a really good job of making this a tough While participants realized the effort in several games what the club hopes is a rewarding stretch. building for opponents.” had to be stronger, opportunities to turn things around Initially, the Coyotes did engage the Oilers for “We need consistency from everybody,” added began to dwindle. From Jan. 8 through Antti Raan- those full 60 minutes, and the defense kept the lethal Tocchet. “Every game is important. Any time you play ta’s 13th career shutout when he blanked Edmonton Edmonton offense to the perimeter. anybody, you have to play consistent.” By Mark Brown




Position: Forward, Arizona Coyotes Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada Acquired: Traded from New Jersey Devils on Dec. 16, 2019, with forward Blake Speers in exchange for defenseman Kevin Bahl, forwards Nick Merkley and Nate Schnarr, a conditional first-round pick in 2020, and a conditional third-round pick in 2021 NHL Draft: Selected in the first round (first overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 NHL Draft Last Amateur Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL) Age: 28 Arizona Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up? Taylor Hall: That would be backyard hockey. My dad would build a rink for me in the backyard. From November until March, I was able to play as much as I wanted. That’s where you grow your love for the game – playing in the backyard. AZR: What’s your favorite memory in the game since leaving junior hockey? TH: I guess getting drafted (No. 1 overall by Edmonton in the 2010 NHL Draft). That’s probably the best thing that happened so far in helping achieve the dream of getting drafted. Now, 10 years later, I’m still playing and really enjoying it. AZR: Who have been the biggest influence on you, on and off the ice? TH: Definitely my parents. I know that’s a cliché answer, but they did a lot for me. My dad is still someone who I talk to before and after every game. I’m an only child, so it’s a great relationship I have with them and to be able to share this journey with them has been awesome. AZR: What is the best piece of advice you have for a young hockey player? TH: Play lots of sports, and just don’t focus on one sport. Become an overall athlete and develop a love for sports and what it teaches you. I think it’s best to be an athlete and play as many sports as you can. AZR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play? TH: I love watching football. I never played but I do love watching football. I also like playing golf. AZR: Do you have any superstitions? TH: I like to have pasta and salmon with a Spanish salad before every game. Sometimes, you get into a rhythm and you’re playing the same songs going to the rink, but I try not to have too many superstitions and not rely on many things. AZR: What does your game-day routine look like? TH: It depends if we have a skate in the morning. I prefer not to skate in the morning and just to save it for game time. Get here about two hours or so before a game and start warming up. Have a coffee and get ready to go. AZR: Do you have a favorite meal or restaurant here in the Phoenix area? TH: I’m in Scottsdale and there are so many good places to eat. Ocean 44 and Café Monarch are two places that I enjoy. AZR: What are some of the essentials you take on a road trip? TH: I’ll take my iPad, headphones, sleep mask, iPhone charger. Yeah, that’s about it. AZR: Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up? TH: My favorite growing up was Jarome Iginla. He was always someone I looked up to and had a chance to play against him in my first NHL game. That was my “Welcome to the NHL” moment when I saw him on the other bench. Always thought he was good person to look up to, learn from his attitude and the way he played the game. Photo/Norm Hall


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

- Compiled by Mark Brown

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