Arizona Rubber Magazine - October 2018

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D R A W R O F G N I V O M : N O MISSI A fixture in the Valley for many years, the Mission AZ youth program prides itself on being a family-oriented association that goes above and beyond for the players to give them the tools to not only advance to higher levels of hockey, but also in life as a whole AZ ICE ARCADIA HELPING WITH GIRLS, WOMEN’S HOCKEY BOOM IN ARIZONA





FROM THE EDITOR Let’s always find time to enjoy the game, make special memories


Matt Mackinder

omeone asked me the other day how old our kids are. My response was, “They’re 13, 11 and 8.” I then caught myself thinking, “Where did the time go?” I remember when my wife and I used to tell people how old our kids were in months. Now, we have two kids in middle school! There is an old saying that I think everyone knows that says, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Not only does that apply to life, but also to youth hockey. One day, your kids are learning to skate and handle a stick and get on their gear and the next, they’re heading off to junior hockey and col-

lege hockey. Yes, time does in fact speed up, perhaps faster than we would like to admit or recognize. So I ask all the parents out there to just do one thing: enjoy the ride. Kids may not play hockey their whole lives. They may lose interest. They may take up another sport. Whatever the case may be, just take it all in. Make these times special memories. The kids will look back one day and remember scoring their first goal and looking into the stands and seeing smiles all around. That’s what matters. Hockey is the greatest game on the planet with the greatest athletes, parents and supporters. Let’s keep it that way! The roster for the 2018-19 U.S. Women’s Development Sled Hockey Team was announced last month by USA Hockey and features 18 players, including three goaltenders, six defensemen and nine forwards. One of the three goalies is Chandler native Gabby Graves-Wake, who plays for the Arizona Coyotes sled hockey program. The 2018-19 season marks the first season the team is under full governance of USA Hockey. “We’re excited to welcome the women’s national sled development team to the USA Hockey family formally,” said USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher. “While it’s a program that has been in existence since 2007 and the USA Hockey Foundation has supported it in some fashion for a number of years, it’s a program that is now fully part of USA Hockey and we look forward to its continued evolution.” This year’s selection camp was held in Voorhees, N.J., at the Virtual Flyers Skate Zone as part of the 2018 Girls/Women’s Sled Hockey Development Camp. Good luck, Gabby! The Arizona State NCAA Division I team opened the new season with a new program milestone over the Oct. 6-7 weekend. With two consecutive shutouts over the Alaska Nanooks, the Sun Devils clinched their first home sweep in program history and simultaneously gave the club its best start (2-0-0) since joining the Division I ranks in 2015. ASU toppled the Nanooks 3-0 the first night and then 5-0 to get the sweep at Oceanside Ice Arena as Joey Daccord was in net for both shutouts and also added an assist in the opener. Phoenix native Johnny Walker scored in both games and now has a goal in seven straight games dating back to last season. “It’s not really something you think about,” Walker said of the streak. “You go in every night and you have to compete either way and good things will happen.” Keep it going, Devils! In player advancement news, the Regina Pats announced recently they have signed 15-year-old defenseman Jake Johnson to a WHL contract. A Scottsdale native, Johnson was drafted by the Pats in the 10th round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft. “We are thrilled with Jake choosing Regina,” said Pats GM John Paddock. “We look forward to his future with our organization.” Johnson played the last two years with the Jr. Coyotes’ Bantam team, recording a goal and 12 assists in 21 games. He is set to play this season with the Jr. Coyotes’ 15U squad of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League.

Contact Matt Mackinder at 4

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

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With DYHA’s Lil Devils program booming, so, too, is the Jr. Sun Devils’ Mite program, leading to enhanced growth in the youth hockey game in the Valley. More on DYHA on Page 10. Photo/Shon Hata

ON THE COVER The Mission AZ program continues to make forward progress and showcase how the association provides opportunities for success, both on and off the ice, in Arizona and beyond.

Coyotes ready for new season, ‘want to keep it simple’ screens. “You just forget what happened,” said Arizona goalie Antti Raanta. “We need to follow the coach’s plans and take one game at a time. For us, we want to keep it simple.” If the Coyotes are to break out of the gate with more than a few victories in the opening weeks of the season, Raanta will have to pick up where he left off.

NHL Star of the Week awards. That was accomplished in the months of October and March of last season. s hockey players everywhere prepare for the seaIf Raanta said players need to forget that dreadful son ahead, there are two benchmarks applied by start, coach Rick Tocchet simply dismissed any refthe Arizona Coyotes that provide a foundation for sucerence. cess. “Players don’t think about that,” he said in regard Coming off a season that could best be described to the slow start. “You trust what you did, and they finas half-full and half-empty, the Coyotes look ahead with ished strong. Guys don’t even think about last year. It’s energy and optimism. That is generated by the how they stuck together, which is a positive.” finish of the 2017-18 season in which the CoyThe energy and drive for the season ahead otes went 16-9-3 over the final two months of could rest on the shoulders of Clayton Keller, the season. who finished third in the running for the Calder That’s in contrast to a challenging start in Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year a year ago. which Arizona dropped its first 10 games and Keller is coming off an outstanding first seaby the time they defeated Montreal on Nov. 16, son in which the St. Louis area native became the Coyotes had already lost 15 of their openthe first rookie in Coyotes history to lead the ing 21 games. After that 5-4 victory at the Bell team in scoring. At the same time, he set CoyCentre, things began to slowly turn and by the otes’ single-season rookie marks for goals, asend of the season, the gloom and despair was sists, points, games played, multi-point games, replaced with energy and enthusiasm. longest point streak (10 games) and most As the Coyotes prepare for their next journey points in a month. Keller was also the first player ahead, those two foundations are fundamental in Coyotes history to win multiple Rookie of the to every team and at any level. These could Month awards (October 2017, March 2018) in apply to Squirts, Midgets, Pee Wees, junior the same season. hockey, the minors and the NHL. Those core With production comes leadership responfeatures of any success were not mentioned in Christian Dvorak registered 15 goals and 37 points last season for the Arizona sibility and Keller’s importance on the wing with the Coyotes’ dressing room during the recently Coyotes and is looking to increase his offensive output during the 2018-19 season. Richard Panik on the right wing and Derek concluded preseason workouts but remain fun- Photo/Norm Hall Stepan at center could emerge as one of the damental to any successful outcome. Last season, the 29-year old native of Finland post- NHL’s best lines. While that adulation could be left for Above all, coaches tell players that two essential ed a 21-17-6 record and his 2.24 goals-against aver- another time, Keller is also intelligent to realize what components act as strong catalysts and include playing age was the third lowest in franchise history. His .930 happened during the early part of last season. His solua full 60 minutes or the time allotted at a particular lev- save percentage tied Mike Smith for the highest sin- tion is direct. el and playing a complete 200-foot game. At the NHL gle-season save percentage in franchise history. At the “From the start, we have to treat each game as a level, these are a given each night, but the events from same time, Raanta became the first Coyotes player playoff game,” he said. “Everyone will be ready, and early last season remain on the players’ collective radar since Smith in the 2011-12 season to earn multiple that’s not an issue.” By Mark Brown



‘Taking It To The Next Level’ Mission AZ program remains pillar of consistency, has ‘great continuity from the bottom to the top’ By Greg Ball


eremy Goltz, the director of hockey operations for the Mission AZ youth hockey program in the Phoenix suburbs, likes to say that the program is consistently boring. What he means by that is that there is little drama, the coaching staff remains consistent year after year, kids return to the program and he and his staff stick to their player development program without any significant changes. “We don’t change, but we’re always trying to make things better,” Goltz said with his trademark enthusiasm. “I think we have a good recipe, and our rate of returning players from year to year really shows that. But that being said, we are always looking for ways to enhance our program and what we offer.” With that in mind, Goltz has added a few wrinkles to the Mission program for the 2018-19 season. The in-house program has been expanded to serve more kids, and for the first time, in-house players are wearing Mission jerseys on the ice. Goltz and his staff are also placing a heavier emphasis than ever before on improving players’ skating technique - and using some unconventional methods. New developments this season include a weekly power skating session for each team as well as a figure skating class. Every other week, each squad will spend 45 minutes on the ice with figure skating and power skating coach Crystal Roe working on movements that they’re not used to and working new muscles. The idea is that the different form of skating gives hockey players a better feel for their edges and moving in all directions on the ice - not just forward and backward. “It’s something that I did in my youth hockey programs growing up, and it has always been something I wanted to incorporate because I think it makes better skaters,” Goltz said. “Kids are taking advantage of it, and you can definitely see how much they’re improving. “We’re getting kids comfortable on their edges, because skating is the foundation for everything in hockey. During our valuable and limited ice time with these kids, as coaches sometimes we’re working on 10 different things, and the skating aspect kind of gets overlooked. Instead, we take an hour or so out of the week and put the sticks and pucks away to work on skating.” Goltz is the head coach for six of Mission’s eight teams this season, and he feels fortunate to have an experienced and loyal coaching staff where everyone is pulling on the same end of the rope to work with their approximately 150 players. The staff includes Paul Miller, Paul Bauer, Brandon Hummell, Adam Brill, Chris Carouchi, Jared Rademacher, Scott Farber, Doug Cannon, Darrell Martin, Terry Tessmer, Craig Morton, Larry Gibson (goalies) and Roe (skating). Cannon is in his tenth season coaching with Mission, and this season is an assistant coach with the 16U White team and the 14U White squad while also helping with the 16U Red team. His son, Edward, played for Mission and now is a defen6

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seman at Eastern Michigan University, and he has developed a fierce loyalty to the program over the last decade. “The main focus at Mission is on the players and developing them as best we can,” Cannon said. “Each individual player has individual needs, and they’re all addressed - it’s not one recipe for all.” Chris Carouchi is a Mission alumnus, and as the program continues to evolve in its life cycle, having former players return to coach its teams will only make the Mission program stronger. “It’s really exciting to see the young guys come back and give to the program that they believe in,” Cannon said. Farber is an assistant coach with the Bantam Red team and is the head coach of the Bantam White squad in his eighth season with Mission. His son, Dylan, plays for the Bantam White team, and the elder Farber has plenty of confidence in the program not only for his own son but for other players seeking to get the most out of their abilities. “We’ve always had a great return rate, especially at the older levels, which really speaks to the strength of the Mission program,” Farber said. “We really take a seamless approach from year to year, with a coaching staff that’s a cohesive unit and helps develop the fundamentals of the game appropriately at each age level. It’s the same philosophy across the board from the bottom to the top. “While coaching hockey is what we do, so many other great things come out of that. We’re also teaching discipline, hard work, respect, sportsmanship, accountability and responsibility. We do everything we can to help players move onto the next levels of the game if they’re so inclined, but we also pay attention to the players who simply love the game - and in the end, hopefully, we’ve instilled good character in all of them.” Morton is working with the 16U Red and White teams in his return to coaching after a number of years away. He said he wanted to join on with Mission because of the strong reputation Goltz has earned for developing a quality program. “There’s great continuity from the bottom to the top,” Morton said. “From the Mites up to the 18s, we run similar plays. There’s a nice thread throughout the program and great consistency from team to team as far as what they focus on when on the ice.” In addition to the cohesive coaching staff, there’s also a great sense of connection from one level to the next - kids from the younger teams often are in the stands rooting on the Bantam and Midget teams, and the older players do the same for the younger kids. Morton mentioned the great sense of community amongst Mission families with kids at all levels. There is even a large contingent of in-house players who regularly attend Mission games wearing their red and white sweaters. “We have always had a seamless approach in our organization, but now we are close to taking it to the next level and to the entire Peoria rink,” Goltz said. In addition, Mission’s Special Edition program for special needs hockey players is entering its second season in 2018-19.



Seeing Clearly Now AHU Pee Wee Silver team goes above and beyond putting the world in focus for those in need By Aimee Welch


orldwide, there are approximately 700 million people who need glasses but don’t have them. Most don’t have health insurance, enough money, and/or access to a doctor. For anyone who wears glasses, imagine what it would be like to go a day without them. Last month, players and families from Arizona Hockey Union’s Pee Wee Silver team got together to make a difference. They spent the afternoon in a large warehouse near downtown Chandler sorting and counting thousands of eyeglass lenses to be processed and shipped to Central America. More than 300,000 lenses were donated to VOSH International (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, www.vosh. org), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality eye and vision care to people around the world who are unable to afford or obtain eye care. The team’s goal is to help package the lenses to meet customs requirements so they can be shipped to Central America, enabling VOSH volunteers to conduct free vision screening programs for school children and teachers, and provide glasses for more than

150,000 people who will be able to see clearly for the first time. AHU Pee Wee Silver right wing Jack Welch is very familiar with the project because his great uncle, Dr. Greg Pearl, an optometrist in Los Angeles, chairs the VOSH Corps program, which recruits volunteer optometrists from the U.S. to teach in optometry schools in the developing world. “It felt good to pack these lenses with my team because we knew we were making a difference,”

said Welch. “And after we learned how many we had packed, we realized that we had helped thousands of people to see better.” The donated lenses have been stored in Chandler in warehouse space donated by Ed York, a local businessman and active VOSH volunteer. In order to pass shipping customs requirements, the lenses have to be meticulously sorted, labeled, counted and packaged. Volunteers had been working on the project a little bit at a time, but progress was slow. When Dr. Pearl learned that the lenses were in Chandler, he called his nephew in Arizona to explore the possibility of a team community service project. The idea

was shared with AHU Pee Wee Silver coach Jeremy Scofield, who presented it to the team. “The response from our families was overwhelmingly positive,” said Scofield. “Community service is a great way to teach the kids the importance of giving back to people in need, and a perfect opportunity to get the team together outside of the rink.” Many of the families have been together for years, noted Scofield, and the great turnout was no surprise. “Our hockey family is a great group of people, and it’s nice to get together for more than just hockey games,” Scofield said. This AHU family proved to be a productive one off the ice, too. During a lens-sorting “test run” in early September, eight people packed 10,940 lenses in two hours. So Scofield rallied the rest of the troops. “What can we do in four hours with 30 people? 8

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40 people? We can be amazing,” he wrote on the team’s Facebook page. On a Sunday afternoon in September, 31 Pee Wee Silver players and family members showed up to do just that – to be amazing. Packing stations were set up inside the office, dads carried heavy boxes in and out of storage and logged numbers, and every volunteer was given a specific assignment to maximize efficiency. A mid-day pizza break gave the team time to let off some steam, and the parents an opportunity to catch up after a summer away from the rink. By the end of the afternoon, the Pee Wees had packed 203 boxes containing 106,731 lenses. Combined with the prior weekend’s trial run that produced 20 boxes containing 10,940 lenses — enough for more than 58,000 pairs of glasses. According to Dr. Pearl, approximately five percent of school children and 40 percent of teachers in developing countries need glasses but don’t have them. “Children in Central America need glasses just like children in the U.S., but their families can’t afford it,” said Pearl. “So, without glasses, they struggle in school or drop out.” Pearl says parents often believe their children are developmentally delayed, but their lives are transformed once they can see clearly. The free screenings also benefit teachers, who are paid low salaries, have no health insurance, and very limited access to doctors. “People here can name five places to buy a pair of glasses,” said Pearl. “There, they can’t name one.” With approximately 200,000 more lenses still to be sorted, the Silver Knights are planning another packing session in the near future. Scofield posted an update on the Silver Knights’ Facebook page with the final count, followed by “The job might not even be half done. Who is up for another round?” The post was met with comments like “Count us in, let’s do it, bring it on,” and “It’s good therapy for my OCD tendencies” and “Game on.” Community service projects provide a rewarding experience and a great reminder for kids and parents alike. We’re all so fortunate and, when we work together, we can give so much back. “It’s great to be able to support those in need,” said AHU Pee Wee Silver team manager Tara Heiman. “On and off the ice, this team is awesome.” ​​

FLAGSTAFF YOUTH HOCKEY ASSOCIATION NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY IceJacks finding positives in Northstars excited to partake in early season, home games on tap Coyotes’ Little Howlers program By Matt Mackinder

By Travis Joralmon



he Northern Arizona University Division II team went on a season-opening road trip to start off the 2018-19 season, and while the 1-2-1 record wasn’t what the IceJacks hoped to bring home to Flagstaff, there are many positives the team can continue to build upon. “Yeah, definitely not the outcome and end results of the games that we wanted to see, but overall, I think we saw a lot of good things that weekend, especially on the defensive end with an almost completely new ‘D’ core,” said NAU coach Travis Johanson. “Getting those guys in and them having experience playing some of the better competition in the West right off the bat, we saw good things out of them and the rest of the team. “It was a tough schedule, travel, opponents and jumping in with both feet with no warmup game and having to play a team that was on their sixth game and it being our first of the year, but like I said, we saw good things.” Moving forward, the IceJacks will come home to Jay Lively Arena for in-state rivalry games against Grand Canyon University and Arizona State. “It will be great to get home and play in front of our fans,” said Johanson. “We are pushing to have a complete all-around game on both sides of the puck, but our biggest strength would have to be the 11 returning forwards this season. I don’t think we will have any problems in the ‘O’ zone with that group, but the game starts in the ‘D’ zone and we will rely on that group to make sure that they are focusing on being defensively strong first and foremost.”

s hockey grows all across Arizona, that growth is accentuated with the Little Howlers, an on-ice youth hockey program hosted in cooperation with the Arizona Coyotes Hockey Development Program, the NHL, USA Hockey, CCM and local hockey rinks. The program consists of six one-hour sessions designed to provide kids ages 5-9 a risk-free introduction to the sport of hockey. And the parents and players with the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association (FYHA) love the Little Howlers. “The Little Howlers is an amazing program,” said FYHA parent Deja Allen. “Alex went from skating with a walker to skating backwards by the end of the season. The free gear was a huge plus and now, Alex is in his second year of 6U. The program definitely got him prepared for 6U club.” For an incredibly low cost of $150, each child receives a set of CCM equipment to be used during the six-week clinic, including their own pair of skates TO KEEP, plus a membership to Howlers Kids Club and a voucher to a Coyotes game in the 2018-19 season. There is an equipment fitting session run by PURE Hockey before the first on-ice clinic to ensure all parents and children are aware of the proper manner in which to dress the child. The classes are taught by the local rinks’ Learn to Play instructors and include special visits from Coyotes/Jets alumni Wayne McBean, Tim Watters and Greg Adams. A graduation ceremony also takes place at Gila River Arena. At the conclusion of the program, parents are given information on hockey programs across the state. The new season of Little Howlers starts Nov. 4 and registration is available at For more information on the Little Howlers, visit


Handy tips to keep hockey parents calm, cool, collected T

his is Part 1 of 3 in a series by Jamie McKinven of GlassAndOut. com.

1. Hockey is a Fun Game. Period. The No. 1 goal in all youth sports is to have fun. Hockey, at its purest form, is recreation McKinven and nothing more. When kids begin playing hockey, they don’t know the meaning of the words “salary,” “contract” or “agent.” When kids first develop an interest in hockey, it is purely for fun. Too often this cold, hard fact is forgotten. When things become hairy and stress levels escalate, take a deep breath and read that three-letter word over and over again – F-U-N, F-U-N, F-U-N… 2. Development is More Important Than Winning. Not too long ago, I had the unenviable task of listening to a parent tell me that their 10-year-old son

has been crying himself to sleep for the past week because he has been getting two shifts a game. The coach wants a championship and because it is the AAA level, has decided that he will do whatever it takes to win. Some people say, “When you’re playing AAA hockey, it’s about winning and if kids sit on the bench, they sit on the bench. If you want to get equal playing time, go play house league.” I completely disagree with this. The fact is, every parent pays for their kid to play at the AAA level and the mandate is still development and fun. When I was 10 years old, we won a few tournaments. Now 20 years later, I couldn’t tell you where the tournaments were even held and all of the trophies and medals I received are long gone and forgotten. I’m not where I am today because I won a 50-cent plastic medal at the Eganville Invitational in 1991. Winning is not important when you’re 10 years old. 3. Don’t Worry About Status. The biggest misconception in hockey today is that if you aren’t playing AAA, you’re not going anywhere. I hear it all the time – parents stressing because their kid got cut from the AAA team. It’s a ridiculous obsession with status.

The fact is kids are going to develop at different stages. The kid who dominates in Atom isn’t necessarily the kid who dominates in Bantam, Midget or junior. Most of the kids who dominate at early ages are the bigger kids who are just physically stronger than everyone else. From Atom to Bantam Minor (10 to 14 years old) I played AAA. I was always the smallest kid on the team and always had coaches who were obsessed with winning. I loved hockey, which is what kept me going. The turning point in my career came when I was 15 and was cut from the Bantam Major AAA team. I went down and played A-level Bantam and had the best year of my life. The next season, I played Junior C followed by four seasons of Tier II Junior A hockey. I then received a full-scholarship to play in the NCAA at Clarkson University and after graduation, played four seasons of professional hockey. If I hadn’t been cut and gone down to play A-level Bantam, I never would have played beyond minor hockey. It was an experience that opened my eyes and changed my life. Playing against the best players possible doesn’t necessarily make you a better player. In the long run, it is better to play at levels that are ideal for the moment, while developing your skills and increasing your confidence.

Jamie McKinven, author of “So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey?” and “Tales from the Bus Leagues,” is a former professional hockey player who played in the NCAA, ECHL, Central Hockey League and Europe. Along the way, he discovered a great deal about life, love and the value of following through on a dream.



Mite program, Lil Devils adding to positive DYHA impact By Matt Mackinder


hris Sehring, Shon Hata and Kayman Wong coach the youngest players with the DYHA Jr. Sun Devils with little fanfare and no complaints. Sehring coaches the Mites and joins Hata and Wong as being in charge of the Lil Devils. Getting prospective players on the ice at an early age is what the two programs are about. “The Lil Devils program has helped bridge the gap between Little Howlers (learn to play program sponsored and hosted by the Arizona Coyotes) and the Mites program,” explained Hata. “Providing an alternative and affordable development program through the support of the DYHA coaching staff has made a significant impact in growing the game here at DYHA. I can’t say enough about our families and especially Chris Sehring, Kayman Wong and our parent volunteers with countless volunteer hours and commitment to the Lil Devils program. We don’t keep scores. We build relationships, skill, and just allow the kids to enjoy the ice and the game which ultimately keeps them coming back for more week after week with smiles on their faces.” The DYHA Mite program has about doubled in the past year and that can be directly attributed to the growth of the Lil Devils program, according to Sehring. “Roughly 60 percent of our current Mites are graduates of last season’s Lil Devils program,” Sehring said. “Having players come in at the ground level and begin

to love the game and learn how to play can often lead to sports at the ground level as it teaches many life lesa lifelong passion for our game. While it’s never too late sons that may not be taught at home. It’s really exciting to join the game, gaining necessary skills early often to see players grow up in their own way and gain their translates to later success in the game and fosters the individual independence and confidence, on and off the players passion for the sport. ice.” “Our coaches and association are all very close. As With all the recent growth and success, how can the head coach of the Mite prothe Mites and Lil Devils keep gram, I love the support we get steady on the upward trend? from our other coaches and older “I think growth comes orteams as well as the families that ganically with programs like are involved with the program. these,” said Sehring. “We beThe best part for me will always lieve in how we teach hockey at be the players, as getting to work these levels and through that, with them and watch them grow, players will want to join a prolearn and succeed is the most regram where they are learning, warding part about the program having fun and are part out our and coaching in general. We have tight-knit community. That said, a great group this season and I the work that (Coyotes director look forward to the things to come of amateur hockey development) Matt Shott and his crew for them.” do at Little Howlers is critical as Hata said the growth at the The Lil Devils program at DYHA serves as a feedMite level is due to several factors. er program to the Jr. Sun Devils’ Mite program and they are often the first touch“I really must credit the local roughly 60 percent of DYHA’s Mites this season point players and parents have community and the Little Howlers, played last season for the Lil Devils. Photo/Shon Hata in hockey and our Mites and Lil Arizona Coyotes, Coyotes Alumni, ASU NCAA hockey, Devils often grow directly from their growth.” “What I most like about the program here is that we USA Hockey, Hockey Canada and CCM for supporting and growing hockey here in Arizona,” Hata said. “This focus on long-term development of our players,” added has led to the growth of the Lil Devils program which in Hata. “It’s not all about winning. It’s about family and how we work as an individual and as a team while still turn grows the Mites program. “I believe it is important to get kids involved in any having fun.”


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Young SoCal talents finding benefits to playing at TPHA By Greg Ball


pair of Southern Californians are making themselves at home quickly at Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy (TPHA). Tyler McNeil and Leon Biller both made the jump from playing for the Valencia Jr. Flyers last year to joining TPHA this season, and the pair of 16-yearold junior forwards have already established themselves as integral members of the school’s prep team playing in the North American Prospects Hockey League’s (NAPHL) 18U division. Both left wings, McNeil is from Santa Clarita and Biller was born in Sweden but raised in Valencia. They each had their own reasons for making the switch to studying and playing hockey in Tahoe, and their decisions had a lot to do with putting their development as players on the fast track. “I wanted to advance my career and do bigger and better things,” explained McNeil, who played for the Jr. Flyers and Anaheim Jr. Ducks previously and was the top scorer at the 16U AA level in CAHA last season. “My dream right now is to play Division I college hockey - I want to go to Boston University.” McNeil has come to love the environment at TPHA, noting that he now has more time for academics than when he was playing travel hockey and that he’s getting more time on the ice to improve his skills than he ever has in his youth hockey career. Even with five days a week scheduled on the ice, he rou-

tinely stops by the rink on off days to work on his shot or do other drills. “I hate even missing a couple days,” he said. “I always want to get on the ice.” Scott McNeil, Tyler’s father, said that their family made the decision to attend Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy without ever having set foot on the campus.

Leon Biller

Tyler McNeil

Of course, when they finally made it there and saw the facilities, they knew they had made the right decision. “Tyler is one of the most competitive, driven people I know, and he is passionate about the sport,” he said. “Attending Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy was something he wanted to do. “Travel hockey can be hard on academics. When

he was traveling with the Ducks, he missed so much school. At TPHA, he is getting the benefit of the social skills from going to his face-to-face classes as well as the flexibility to develop. Mom and Dad get their dream of preparing him for college while he gets to pursue his dream on the ice.” Biller was also among the top scorers at the 16U AA level in CAHA last year, totaling 53 goals and 45 assists in just 47 games. After experiencing so much success, he felt he needed to challenge himself even more if he wanted to continue improving. “Coming to Tahoe was another step on the ladder for me,” he said. “We go to some really big tournaments and get a lot of exposure. My goal is to play pro hockey, but right now I really want to make it to college and I really want to play at Boston University.” Biller’s father, Curt, played Division I hockey in Sweden and has exposed his son to some of the same top hockey camps that he attended as a youth in his native country. He said that when it came time to decide if Leon would attend TPHA, there were plenty of positives, both in terms of hockey and academics. “I liked the focus on development in all areas,” Curt Biller said. “The kids practice hockey in the morning, then go to school, do some training in the afternoon, and then they’re done. They have time to study without having to go late into the night.” While it’s still early in the 2018-19 season, McNeil and Biller have already combined for five points in just three NAPHL games.



AHSHA growth spurt welcomes girls Premier, Tucson teams By Matt Mackinder


s the Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA) gears up for the 2018-19 season, the league will have a new look this year – and that’s a good thing. AHSHA welcomes the Tucson High School Roadrunners program, in addition to a new girls team that will play within the Premier program this season. Marc Fritsche, who serves as AHSHA’s president, noted that the league is now at 36 teams and more than 600 players. “The divisions are very competitive,” said Fritsche. “Our continued support from the Arizona Coyotes shows we are growing hockey in the Valley at the high school level, and that is very exciting.” For the Tucson entry, coach Ryan DeJoe said having a high school program has been building over the last couple years. “Originally, we only had a couple of players in this age group but over the last five seasons, our Tucson players who started with us as young kids have grown with the program and our numbers finally allowed us to form a high school team,” said DeJoe. “A lot of our Tucson players have not been on a travel team and have not played many games in their hockey careers. They were players that stuck with the program and continued to improve. That, combined with some of our players who were on our first AZYHL 14U team last season and some great kids who live in Casa Grande and are willing to make the drive, allowed us to put this team together.”

DeJoe added that it is “a huge deal” to be a part of AHSHA. “I’m expecting our players to have a great experience in the league and other teams to enjoy coming down to Tucson for games for the first time,” DeJoe said. “We’ve had some contacts with AHSHA teams in the past and it has been overwhelmingly positive. I expect us to have a competitive team in Division 3. I know that the preseason games made our team eager to get on the ice in Tucson, which we finally did last month, and get to work on their game.” Tait Green heads up the new girls Premier team and is elat-

ed with the recent boom in girls hockey, especially at the high school level. “I do not know the registration numbers from the past but there are 27 girls playing AHSHA this year and 18 of those are involved with the Premier program,” said Green. “Based on observation, I would guess girls playing high school hockey has probably doubled in the last five years. The AHSHA Premier program has proven to be successful in developing players for hockey after high school. By adding this team, we are now able to


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provide girls the same experience and opportunity. “We will expect the same thing from our girls that we do the boys. Work hard, play the game the right way, be a good teammate and have fun. Our success is based on kids learning and growing, not wins and losses.” Both DeJoe and Green are in agreement that having the Coyotes on board is a benefit to all involved. “I don’t think it can be overstated the impact the Coyotes have had,” DeJoe said. “Their monetary contributions alone provide a competitive and extremely well-ran league at a reasonable rate for parents. And the players get the perks of their own jerseys with the Coyotes logo as well as free Coyotes tickets and the feeling that their league is backed by the Coyotes and the NHL. It helps further ingratiate the team to kids growing up in Arizona playing hockey.” “The Coyotes continue to be an incredible organization when it comes to growing the game of hockey in Arizona,” added Green. “What they are doing for girls is amazing. By supporting AHSHA, they are now reaching out to girls of all ages. They have people like (Coyotes director of amateur hockey development) Matt Shott working for them that are fully committed to growing girls hockey. I think with all the Yotes are doing, combined with having teams at ASU and GCU, girls and women’s hockey will be a large and prominent figure in Arizona amateur hockey.”


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AZ Ice Arcadia housing slew of girls, women’s programs By Matt Mackinder


his season, four girls and women’s programs call AZ Ice Arcadia home – the AZ Lady Coyotes, Grand Canyon University, Arizona Kachinas and Small Frys. Talk about a whole lot of growth in girls and women’s hockey under one roof. The Lady Coyotes have players from all over the Valley (Anthem to Tucson, Surprise to Gilbert and one from Las Vegas), and Arcadia is the most central rink and the best option for our program,” said Lady Coyotes hockey director and 16U/14U coach Scott Squires. “This is the first season we have had access to the training room and equipment at Arcadia and now have a strength and conditioning coach working with our 16U and 12U teams. We are so grateful to Arcadia, the Arizona Titans program and GCU for allowing us to use their facilities. They have been amazing this season helping us grow our program and develop our players.” GCU head coach Natalie Rossi said she is “very excited” to call AZ Ice Arcadia home. “We are excited about having the workout space here at AZ Ice Arcadia, the center ice logo and in the future, building locker rooms,” said Rossi. “It has been an easy transition to being here and we are excited for it to be our home. “The GCU girls are all USA Hockey level 1-certified

from the Arizona Coyotes in order for the girls to be able to help with local girls programs and growing the sport. Three or four of the girls get on the ice with Small Frys and Kachinas each week and are able to help coach and be role models for local girls hockey players. We are excited to be able to help these local programs by supplying them with strong female role models, both on and off the ice.” Chandler native and former U.S. Olympian Lyndsey Fry, who heads up the Small Frys and Kachinas,

two programs funded by the Arizona Coyotes, NHL and NHLPA , says having many amenities in one location is a huge benefit. “We love calling Arcadia the current home for the Arizona Kachinas,” said Fry. “It is centrally located, which is helpful for getting girls throughout the entire Valley to come for Kachinas practices. It is also great to have a college team in the same rink. The Kachinas practice right after the GCU team so they are able to see those girls and think, ‘Wow, that could be me someday.’ The


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convenience of having the GCU girls skate before also means that many of them stay after to coach the Kachinas players which helps not only with the Kachinas’ development but also the college players’ development as coaches. “I think the more girls programs we can have throughout the Southwest the better. One of the biggest challenges for youth programs in this part of the country is the extensive travel. However, the more competitive programs we have, the better for staying as close to local as possible for games.” There will be a handful Small Frys skates throughout the year at AZ Ice Arcadia to get ready for next summer’s program. Squires noted that each program has a part in growing the game in the region. “We understand that there is going to be some level of attrition of players over time,” said Squires. “Getting and retaining younger players is so important to growth. Our program was about 6-8 players short of fielding a third team this year. I think a youth travel program like the Lady Ducks in Anaheim is good example. I would love to see Arizona have an all-female team at each age group and compete at the national level. We now have programs in place for beginners, house, travel, high school and college in Arizona. “Working together, the sky is the limit for girls hockey in Arizona.”


Pavel Barber’s Top 10 Hockey Training Tips: Part 1 of 2 By HockeyShot’s Stickhandling Specialist Pavel Barber 10. Use a Notebook: Those with more awareness will build skill at a faster rate. We all know those moments where we’ve been working so hard on a skill, and we make one small tweak and it finally clicks. I would get so excited as a kid when these moments happened that I would need to write down the details in a notebook. This way, I would never forget that small point that made me successful. To get truly great at something, you have to immerse yourself in the trial and error process. The failures and the disappointment will actually be the glue that will allow these points to stick so you won’t forget. Capture these moments, enjoy them, and continue to build. 9. Focus on Yourself: It’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing, especially when they are better than us. Sometimes that leads to us feeling insecure, and that’s OK. We all learn at different paces, and we need to understand that the only way to get better at the fastest rate possible is to focus on ourselves. We are constantly in competition with our former selves. That means we aren’t looking at

how fast someone beside us in line is going through a drill. What you’ll find is that when learning a new skill, going slower will actually get you to learn the skill faster. Focus on your own development.

ing. It needs to be fun. When we have free time, we seek fun activities to do. When we enjoy it, it’s easier to stay in the present moment for longer, and we will undoubtedly train more if we love doing it.

8. Have Fun: When we’re training, there is a lot of pres-

7. Read: There are so many books to complement your development and help make you aware of all the competitive advantages you can use to gain skill faster. You’ll notice most of my advice above is about mental skill rather than physical. This is because the quality of the physical skill you perform will be influenced by the mindset you have going into that training session. A few great reads are “The Talent Code,” “Mind Gym,” “The Power of Now,” “The Cellestine Prophecy” and “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.”

sure. There’s a lot of expectations. When it comes down to it, we want to be the best we can be and do the best with what we have. In order to put in the ungodly amount of deep, focused hours needed to be the best we can be, we have to fall in love with the game. We need to have a positive relationship with train-

6. Put in the Work Off the Ice: These hours add up. And you don’t need much. Whether it’s a carpet floor and a golf ball, a backyard stickhandling zone, a driveway, and outdoor rink or a parking lot, you can get a lot done off the ice to supplement your on-ice skills. I didn’t have much money growing up, and the only way for me to get my hours of deep focused practice in was to stickhandle at home and stickhandle at an outdoor rink near my house. In your shoes is great, but adding rollerblades is a great way to take your skills and challenge them at speed and with edge work. Join us next month for Pavel Barber’s Top 10 Training Tips: Part 2, or visit now for the latest tips, tricks and the best hockey training products on the market at an affordable price.




Learn2LoveRoller program an advantage to IHAAZ players By Brian Lester


hrough a program designed to introduce young athletes to roller hockey, the AZ Royals are hoping to rebuild their program. Learn2LoveRoller is key in making it happen. It’s set up to introduce East Valley ice hockey players to roller hockey. “The two games lend so well to each other,” past Royals coach and now IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky said. “The most intimidating part is just trying it, which there are not a lot of outlets to do so in, especially in the East Valley.” The AZ Royals started up five years ago, initially as a team where the players wore Arizona Hockey Union jerseys. By the second year, it assumed the Royals name and grew into three teams. Since the start, the Royals have seen the majority of their players age out move to the brink of doing so in the next two seasons. “The hope is to rebuild with younger teams and newly energized and excited coaches and parents to take the program forward,” Boyarsky said. And that’s where teaching players roller hockey comes into play. With money the AZ Royals received from hosting the league’s state finals, five 75-minute sessions of floor time were purchased at the Barney Family Sports Complex in Queen Creek for the clinics. The program is a hit already, according to Nick Paris, a former coach with the Prescott Storm. He started the program with Steve Ishu, a coach with the AHU Knights,

and Ryan Sell, who has been coaching youth teams in the Ice Den Chandler house program and high school hockey at Corona High. “We have had only one clinic so far (Sept. 28), and it had a great turnout,” Paris said. “My hopes are to put together a 10U and 12U team for the upcoming IHAAZ season. I’m sure over the next couple of clinics we will have more participants, so there’s a good possibility we can put a

couple of teams together.” Brian McBride was part of the group that started the Royals five years ago. He believes Learn2LoveRoller is a great thing. “The program is great because it exposes kids to a sport that not only gets them out exercising, but it can also offer a team environment with all the personal growth experiences that come with it,” McBride said. McBride is hopeful that at least two dozen players will participate in each session. What he knows for sure is players will come away from it knowing a great deal about


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the game. “As an exposure clinic, I hope the kids learn about how the game is played in a competitive environment, including the most important skills and the basic tactics of the game,” McBride said. “But most of all, I hope the program is able to convey the excitement of playing the game. Those of us who love the game need to be able to transfer that passion to as many kids as possible.” Paris said it’s important to note that just getting players involved in the game in a clinic setting is beneficial to say the least. “There is always a huge benefit to kids when they tie up the skates (inline or ice) and have a stick in their hands,” Paris said. “The program gives kids who are knew to the sport an opportunity to learn and love hockey at no cost to the parents.” Learn2LoveRoller clinics center around learning the fundamentals of the game, such as skating and stopping the puck, as well as helping players get used to the difference in rules, pace of play and strategy. The ASU roller hockey team is also helping out with the clinics. “We ultimately hope the kids learn roller hockey is just as fun as ice hockey,” Paris said. “I know the kids are going to learn new skills and improve the skills they have. We ultimately hope to put some IHAAZ teams together, but most importantly, we want kids to learn and have fun.” For more information, visit https://www.facebook. com/Learn2LoveRoller


Mission’s Hall of Fame to grow by nine talents in 2019 By Greg Ball


hroughout its existence, the Mission AZ youth hockey program has made a concerted effort to establish traditions and create pride in being part of the Mission family. One of the biggest things that helps them accomplish that is the existence of their Hall of Fame, which honors each player who skates with Mission for at least two years and advances to play at the college or junior levels. The class of 2019 will be inducted before next season begins and includes players who finished their careers with Mission this spring and have officially moved on to the next level. With nine players set to be inducted next summer, Mission’s Hall of Fame will now include approximately 70 players. These young men and women represent the best of what Mission is, and these are the only names one will find on a Mission jersey. “In a lot of programs, you’ll hear about one kid who makes it to a big school or junior league, but the other kids don’t really get promoted,” said Jeremy Goltz, Mission’s director of hockey operations. “The Hall of Fame is something that gives us a lot of pride in our program, and we’re so proud of these kids.” The class of 2019 includes Kyle Ambrose (Northern Arizona University), Adam Beckerman (Northern Arizona University), Kevin Bird (University of Arizona), Peter Chung (Boston University), Michael Consenza (Marian University, Wisconsin), Sam Hinnant (South

Muskoka Shield, Greater Metro Hockey League), Andrew Songstad (Maryville University, Missouri), Kyle Tessmer (Creighton University, Nebraska) and Jon Wieland (Vanderbilt University, Tennessee). “This is our biggest class in a few years, so we’re pretty proud of that,” Goltz said. “A lot of these kids were with us for a very long time, so it should be a really special induction ceremony.” Bird played for Mission starting at the Bantam level

The Mission AZ Hall of Fame class of 2018 – Jake Herzog, Matthew Songstad, Raeann Clancey, Walker Yancy, Brett Charron and Demitri Thorsen – was inducted just prior to the 2018-19 season getting underway.

when he was 14, and his team won a state championship the following year (when he was teammates with four other 2019 Hall of Fame inductees). After his 16U season, he decided to go play junior hockey, but found that the experience didn’t live up to Mission. “I came back because Mission was where my heart

was, and I don’t regret it at all,” said Bird, who played one more season with the program after returning to Arizona. He said playing with Mission for so many years really prepared him to advance to the next level. “Every day you are competing really hard, even in practice - it made us all better,” Bird said. “We have a really special Hall of Fame class because there are so many of us. It’s really cool because some of these kids are getting awesome educations at amazing schools. I’m excited for all of us.” Songstad spent six years with the Mission program and said that experience was crucial in helping him get to the college level. “I think a lot of it has to do with how we practice at Mission,” Songstad said. “We practice really hard, and Coach Goltz is always on us to help us develop our skills and be the best players we can be. He put together a great schedule that was really competitive, which allowed us to prepare for playing college hockey without playing juniors first.” Goltz said that late summer and early fall are his favorites times of the year, because that’s when college and junior hockey rosters are finalized, and he gets to hear about Mission alumni continuing to play all across North America. “One kid just sent me a picture of his new jersey to tell me that he made the team, so it’s pretty cool,” Goltz said. “It’s always an exciting time, and it creates a lot of pride for us and for kids who have been involved with Mission.”

MISSION STATEMENT The time is now to create an Arizona hockey hall of fame T


his column originally appeared in the Sept. 2017 edition of Arizona Rubber Magazine. A big part of what we try to do at Mission Arizona is teach kids the tradition and respect for the players who have worn this

jersey before them. They are reason our current players have what they have and it is very important that the history of the program is honored and talked about. As much as we try to do as an organization, I see a gap with this process at the state level with its volunteers, past players and coaches who have helped put Arizona on the map nationally long before most of you ever donned your first jersey. I want to use this article to start the push for a statewide hockey hall of fame, where there is a founders, coaches and players induction process, so folks can be educated on the history and real-

ize who did it and what was done to so our current players understand why they have these opportunities. I also would like to recognize a few gentlemen who recently stepped out of roles without much praise or accolades for all they have done for this town.

David Lieb oversaw a lot of the scheduling and was instrumental in the development of the Arizona Youth Hockey League (AZYHL), which has really given more of our teams a chance for steady play and a non-tier opportunity at a true state title. Jeff Farr was the backbone of the high school showcase program, which has been a first-class experience for high schools to represent their state at a national event and be recruited by junior and college programs.

Mike DeAngelis was the hockey director at CAHA Scottsdale for 14 years and helped to build many great players and provide an opportunity for so many kids to move on to the next levels of play beyond youth. Sean Whyte has been a staple in town between Ozzie Ice and DYHA and has been involved

Photo/Adam Cogan/TSS Photography

and at the forefront of Arizona hockey for so many years. These are just a few of hundreds of longtime Arizona contributors that not only need to be recognized, but permanently honored and taught to our younger players, parents and coaches as the reason we are here. THE ARIZONA HOCKEY HALL OF FAME NEEDS TO HAPPEN!

Jeremy Goltz is the director of hockey operations for Mission Arizona.


NEW MEXICO REPORT Ice Wolves grad, Albuquerque Plews takes reins of Mustangs’ native Payson improving in USPHL new 14U development team By Matt Mackinder

By Matt Mackinder



eth Payson is just 17, but already playing junior hockey this season for the USPHL’s New York Aviators. When asked how the season has gone so far in Brooklyn, the Albuquerque native said that “it’s going pretty good.” “One of the main reasons I came here was for development,” Payson said. “I’m getting at least 10 hours of ice time per week, and that’s just not something you can get in New Mexico. With that, I can already see myself developing and it’s great. On top of that, the team is incredibly skilled.” Over the summer, Payson went to a couple showcases and Aviators coach Mike Stanaway was at one in Chicago. He asked Payson if he wanted to play for the Aviators’ Premier team and he accepted. “I was always interested in the sport but when I actually decided I wanted to play was after my dad (Russ) started taking me to Scorpions games back when they were a pro team,” said Payson. “That’s pretty much when I fell in love with the game.” Growing up, Payson played for the New Mexico Ice Wolves, Taos Roadrunners and La Cueva High School. He also had a pretty influential coach. “My dad has pretty much coached me throughout my youth hockey years,” said Payson. “When we’re on the ice together, he’s more than my dad, he’s my coach, so I thank him for always making me show up to practice and pushing me, even when I wasn’t in the mood.” Looking ahead, Payson is hoping a solid season in the USPHL leads to an opportunity in the NAHL. He also wants to be another on the short list of New Mexico natives to play NCAA Division I hockey. Payson also sees hockey in New Mexico continuing to grow, and he’s excited to be part of that growth. “Yes, hockey exists there,” Payson said. “Hockey is not a big sport in New Mexico, but it has most definitely grown in the past 10 years, even if it is not something you hear about on an everyday basis.”


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ulia Plews moved to Albuquerque from Illinois to grow girls hockey in New Mexico. And so far, she’s loving every bit of it. This season, Plews is coaching the New Mexico Mustangs’ new 14U development team, a huge sign that the game is progressing in the state. “It also means girls hockey is increasing in popularity here in the desert, and I think a big part of that is the awesome work that all of our adult hockey community and hockey parents have done to grow the game, especially during Try Hockey for Free sessions each summer and spring,” said Plews. “I believe we had about 150 boys and girls come out during the spring event, which was the best kind of chaos.” Plews said the focus of the 14U team is twofold—to learn skating, shooting and passing skills and basic hockey language in a fun environment, while simultaneously getting up to speed on team systems. “It’s a fun age group to work with, since the maturity level is such that we can connect on a cerebral level, make that impression on how to do the little things right and pay detailed attention to skills and drills,” Plews said. “We are lucky to have a variety of skill levels at practice, though, and the girls can really take off and use their experienced teammates as mentors.” Plews, who played at the University of Illinois, came to the Mustangs through her friend and fellow coach Kristina Lee, who invited her to join her on the bench of the Mustangs’ 12U development team last year. “She has a ton of enthusiasm for working with these girls, and I had a great experience working with the team, parents, and coaching staff,” said Plews. “A year later, I’m head coaching a brand-new development team. “When it comes to hockey in New Mexico and the Southwest in general, there are relatively few population centers, so the dedication level of parents and kids is really something. It’s hard to predict how things will evolve, but I’m optimistic about the enthusiastic hockey community here.”


Arizonans help young Team USA show well at inline worlds nans, reinforced the team’s West Coast theme. Power paced the Grand Canyon State contingent with seven goals and 12 points in the team’s six games. Las Vegas native Ashley Printzen led the team in scoring with nine goals and 16 points. The young Americans proved highly competitive, dropping two games by one goal (3-2 each to Co-

Era said the final pool game against Italy tested the team’s resolve. f the four teams that represented the United “We had already calculated that our final round States at this past summer’s International Fedrobin game against Italy was numerically insignificant eration of Roller Sports (FIRS) inline hockey world to make it as a top four team in our pool before we championships in Italy, the U.S. junior women’s team played them,” Era said. “Lyndsey and I asked our laturned in perhaps the most underrated performance. dies to not treat this as a throwaway game but to show The team, comprised of players ranging from 13that pride and heart of playing for the USA. 19 years old, including four from Arizona, was “Our ladies gave everything they had in that making its first appearance in the division since game; it was really impressive to watch. We 2014. The U.S. squad did not come home with came out aggressively attacking the puck and a medal, though its players did bring back a lot actually led most of the game. We could not of lasting memories and a keen desire to perkeep up the aggressive pace that put us in the form better in the future. lead with only eight skaters and Italy sneaked The team officially skated off the floor in back in to win 3-2 with a few minutes left. Asiago and Roana with a ninth-place finish “Italy celebrated the win like a gold medal among the 10 teams competing in the division. and every one of our girls cried and were emoThe U.S. team’s only victories came against Intionally drained. These girls represented the dia, which finished 10th in the team standings. USA very well and I was very proud of each of But with a little luck, the young American them and the way they played.” squad could have written a different ending for The two games against India were 14-0 and itself. 16-0 routs for the U.S. squad. “Our ladies played better each game,” U.S. “The focus of the two games was to make head coach Greg Era stressed. sure we won (to rank the highest possible that The 2018 U.S. junior women’s squad was we could) and to ensure that every player on among the more unique fielded by the United The West Coast-themed United States national junior women’s team, which the team recorded a goal and both goalies States for international competition with all 10 included four Arizonans on its roster, competed its first showing at the Inter- recorded assists,” Era recounted. “The team players on the roster hailing from the West national Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS) inline hockey world championship made sure that happened in both games.” Coast. Besides the four Arizonans – Yuma’s since 2014 with a ninth place finish over the summer in Italy. Era said each team represented its country Isabella Clark, Scottsdale’s Lauren Power, Ah- lombia and Italy), tying one game (2-2 against New with pride “from the top team to the bottom team.” watukee’s Macy Eide and Phoenix’s Tatum Proud Zealand), and losing by three goals in another (4-1 to “It’s hard to explain to people the pride you feel (goaltender) – the team’s roster also included three Finland). representing your country at a world championship in Californians, one Nevadan and two players from Or“Aside from Finland in our pool, all of our games your sport,” Era said. “There is nothing like putting on egon. were very close,” Era noted. “I know we would have the USA uniform, standing for your national anthem Era and assistant coach Lyndsey Fry, both Arizo- beaten Great Britain and Australia (in the other pool).” and then competing for your country.”

By Phillip Brents



Need a youth stick? Make sure it is sized accurately I

t’s hard to imagine that new innovations in technology can transfer to a hockey stick, but the development of lighter, more durable, and responsive materials have produced the best sticks available today. With the growExelby ing popularity of Mite and Squirt programs everywhere, the youth stick category is starting to benefit from these materials as well. It’s always been the case – start hockey, get a wood stick. There is no reason to jump up to a high-end fancy-looking composite stick to get you started. While this may be true for your first couple of learn-to-skate sessions, new research is starting to show faster development of stickhandling and shooting abilities in young players with the proper stick flex and height for your child. Height and flex are important for your child’s development at a young age. Why is flex so important? The flex in a stick allows you to load energy in the shaft and is what

produces those quick and powerful shots. While preferences are different from player to player, the ability to use your stick’s flex properly changes. It was thought for a long time that the stiffer the stick, the more power you could transfer through to your shot, but it is becoming more understood that with the proper training on a lower-flex stick, you can produce quicker, harder to read shots on unsuspecting goalies. Best example of using a proper flex is Arizona Coyotes defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, many people are shocked to hear that he uses a 75-flex stick. Using a lower flex allows him to make those smooth, effortless passes, and drag and snap shots that we love seeing fly past goaltenders. Flex matters. There are several companies offering high-end youth sticks now. These sticks are specifically designed to match your child’s height and weight to the proper stick for their development. They have longer blade lengths than previous youth sticks, more proportional shaft dimensions to fit properly in their hands, and lower flex points to help deliver more power when passing and shooting. All these aspects lead the player to having more confidence when learning to play the game. Behind The mask now carries several different models of youth sticks at all of our locations.

Recently, CCM released their JetSpeed youth stick line which offers young players the best opportunity to play at their highest level. These sticks are designed to give young players the best feel for developing the ability to “load” the stick. They are available in varying heights in 20, 30 and 40 flex. True Hockey has also released a solid option of youth and junior sticks with the True UFlex line. True’s UFlex sticks are designed to help players select the proper flex that will allow them to maximize performance and playability. Sticks vary in heights between the 20, 30, 40, and 50 flex stiffness, adding an extra flex point to accommodate more youth players. The Bauer Prodigy line has been around for a few years now and allows for a price-point entry-level composite stick. These offer varying heights between the 25, 35, 45 flex points. Bauer does offer high-end youth sticks as well but does not offer the wide range of height and flex as of now. I would look to them developing something new to match these others soon. It’s great to see the new innovations in our sport being developed with the next generation of allstars in mind. With the proper development at a young age, it will be fun to see the skills these kids will dazzle us with in the future. Visit any of the three Behind The Mask locations to get you child sized properly today.

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

Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine



Position: Forward, Arizona Coyotes Hometown: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada NHL Draft: Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round (174th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft Acquired: Traded from Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, 2017 with goalie Sean Maguire and sixth-round pick in 2019 NHL Draft to Arizona for goalie Michael Leighton and fourth-round pick in 2019 NHL Draft Last Amateur Team: University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC) Age: 26 Arizona Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up? Josh Archibald: When I was younger, back in Bantams, we had a really good team. I grew up in Regina and we won Provincials. Being at that age, it was a lot of fun. AZR: What’s your favorite memory in the game since leaving junior hockey? JA: Winning the Stanley Cup with the Penguins (in 2017). That was pretty memorable. AZR: Who have been the biggest influences on you, both on and off the ice? JA: Probably my dad, Jim. He’s played at every level I have and also played in the NHL. He knew what it took and pointed me in the right direction. He gave me the guidance that I needed. He played for the old Minnesota North Stars. He only played 16 NHL games (1984-87) and then he got injured and had to call it a career. Yeah, he got there, played some games and scored a little (goal, two assists). AZR: What’s the best piece of advice you have for young hockey players? JA: Just never give up. You always have to keep working and work hard. Never give up on your dreams. AZR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play? JA: Golf. Love playing, and love watching it. AZR: Do you have any superstitions? JA: I’m not crazy superstitious. I used to be back in college. Now, I think the biggest thing is that I always put the left side of my equipment on first before my right side. AZR: What does your game-day routine look like? JA: Pretty similar to everybody else. You come to the rink and do your pregame stuff. You go home, eat, have a little bit of a nap. I get to the rink pretty early, so I come here for the game and that’s about it. AZR: Do you have a favorite meal or restaurant here in the Phoenix area? JA: We have a one-year-old, so we don’t get out too often. When we do go, there’s a great spot in Scottsdale called Local Bistro. I’m a big chicken parm guy and that’s the best chicken parm I’ve found around here. AZR: What are some essential items you take on a road trip? JA: You have to have earphones to listen to music. Otherwise, I’m not too big on things like that. I do carry around a small backpack with earphones and a few other things. Always have to have a piece of gum in case you fall asleep on the plane or the bus. Other than that, that’s about it. AZR: Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up? JA: I used to be a Detroit Red Wings fan. Grew up in Saskatchewan and there was no home team really for me, but Steve Yzerman was a big influence on me. Photo/Norm Hall


Arizona Rubber Hockey Magazine

- Compiled by Mark Brown

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