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Former Jr. Ducks star York SAN DIEGO JR. GULLS Preparing to succeed: Jr. Gulls staying put in Michigan for college girls program ready right now T I By Chris Bayee

By Matt Mackinder

n just its third season of existence, the San Diego Jr. Gulls girls program has placed itself among the top girls programs on the West Coast in terms of development, coaching and success. Starting with one 12U team two years ago, growing to a 12U and 14U AA team last year, and this year, fielding a 10U, 12U, 14U AA and 19U team, the club has built teams with an emphasis on skill development and team play. One of the biggest strengths of the club is the coaching team, and the incredible hockey experience that they bring to the table. A great example of this is the duo of Blake Bolden and Jamie Huntley. Bolden played four years at NCAA Division I Boston College and appeared in three Frozen Fours before moving on to the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), winning a championship with Boston and earning MVP honors. She is playing this season with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, and travels back and forth between San Diego and her NWHL games. Huntley played NCAA Division III at Elmira College, and has gone on to become one of the best referees in the world, having worked at the IIHF Women’s World Championship multiple times, including this season. “These two women have a wealth of hockey knowledge to share with the players and have the right way of delivering the message in a positive, uplifting environment,” said Jr. Gulls girls program director and 14U AA coach Alex Morrison. The results of the coaching and preparation with the teams were very evident at the Lady Ducks Fall Classic over Thanksgiving Weekend as all four Jr. Gulls teams made the playoffs and the 10U and 19U teams won titles over Lady Ducks teams. “With results like this, the Jr. Gulls girls teams are proving that great female hockey players can be developed right at home,” Morrison said.

he answer is, “the University of Michigan.” The question is, “Where will one of the highest-ranked U.S. born players for the 2019 NHL Draft play next season?” It turns out the choice was fairly easy for longtime Anaheim Jr. Ducks defenseman Cam York, who committed to the NCAA Division I Wolverines in late November and will play for the Big Ten school next fall after he concludes his two-year apprenticeship with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). “After I decommitted (from Boston College), we (NTDP’s Under-18 Team) played a few weeks later at (Michigan’s) Yost Arena,” the 2001 birth year recalled. “It was a special place, a special arena. The way Michigan supports that team is pretty special.” This season, the Anaheim Hills native, who is ranked 15th by International Scouting Services for June’s draft, has continued to do what he’s always done – produce. That trend started in Anaheim, continued for two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota and now is blossoming at the Plymouth, Mich.-based NTDP. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound York amassed 38 points in 59 games last season and added 11 more points in 13 games in two international competitions. This season, he had 16 points in 21 games. That’s only intensified the attention he’s received. “I don’t pay attention to any of it – all it does is distract you and gets you off your game a bit,” he said. “I want to focus on every game that night, not on who’s watching or rankings or whatever.” One appeal about Michigan was its style of play, something York said fits well with his game as a puck-moving defenseman. “Their coaching staff understands my game,” he said. “Within their system, I can be who I am on the ice.” York is the seventh 2001 with ties the Jr. Ducks who has made a college commitment, and the second one headed to Michigan, joining Josh Groll. The others include longtime teammates Ryan Johnson (Minnesota), Nicholas Kent (Quinnipiac) and Jonathan Panisa (UMass), as well as Jarrett Overland (Air Force) and Ethan Wolthers (UMass). “We’re proud of each other,” York said. “That was a special group.”

McCrea ‘will do anything to win’ for NCAA D-I Cornell By Chris Bayee

The program’s first Californian, McCrea was quick to credit those who’ve gone before him. “The leadership position is something I take great pride in because the previous years’ leaders did such a good job,” he said. “I’ve never been on teams so close in my life. Every year I don’t think we could get closer, and the next year it’s closer.” Wearing a letter is nothing new for McCrea. He was

about sticking to what you know because what you’re doing presents you to be in the position you’re in now. t turns out the defensive defenseman isn’t going the way I wanted to have a leadership position, but just because of the dinosaur despite hockey’s fixation on the “offenseI have a letter doesn’t mean I have to change anything men.” about myself.” El Cajon’s Alec McCrea provides evidence of that. Noted for his defensive acumen and leadership, McThe senior assistant captain has helped NCAA DiviCrea still knows how to find the opposing net. His first sion I Cornell University remain in the rankings after a camthree seasons saw him register 15, 10 and 12 points, repaign for the ages in 2017-18. spectively. He plays on the power play and he’s scored The Big Red was a big pain to play against, allowsome huge goals for the Big Red, perhaps none more ing just 1.58 goals per game (the eighth lowest Divimemorable than his winner against Harvard on Nov. 11, sion I mark ever). That was one reason the 6-foot-3, 2017 with 1.4 seconds left. 202-pound former San Diego Saint and Jr. Gull was His skill set has caught the attention of scouts from selected the ECAC Hockey Best Defensive Defensemthe Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers, who’ve inan and a Second Team All-Ivy League pick. vited him to their prospect camps in 2016 and 2017, “When I got the award, they must not have been respectively. watching my hands during warm-ups,” the good-na“Both camps allowed me the opportunity to see tured McCrea quipped. “Seriously, I was humbled to what organizations expect of their players and what it win that award because defense is something I take takes to be at that level,” he said. “It’s apparent throughgreat pride in. out their staffs – everyone maintains that culture.” “For me it’s never about points. I’m trying to focus on Where he plays after this season is anyone’s guess, winning first. I play my best when I think defense first.” but it’s a good bet he’ll join former Jr. Gulls teammates That approached helped Cornell to the NCAA TourTaylor Crunk, Thatcher Demko and Tyler Moy in nament each of the past two seasons, and it’s partly the pros. McCrea relished his teenaged years with that why he was selected to the Big Red’s leadership group group. El Cajon native Alec McCrea, now a senior at Cornell, grew up playthis season. “Our ’95 group was so well coached by Larry “His first strength is his character,” Cornell coach ing youth hockey for the San Diego Saints and San Diego Jr. Gulls. Cahn, Randy Moy, Brett Mowery and others,” he Photo/Patrick Shanahan/Cornell Athletics Mike Schafer said. “He’s a great teammate who alsaid. “They cared about us as players and our develways wants to get better, and he has. a captain for Waterloo in the USHL, helping the Black opment. That made me fall in love with the game and see “The second is he will do anything to win – block a Hawks to the 2014 Clark Cup final. For all of the gains where it could take me. shot, take a hit to make a play, any of the tough things. in his game – Schafer said McCrea’s improved in “every “All of us owe a lot to those coaches. They showed He’s a battler. aspect” during his four seasons – one thing that hasn’t us what opportunities were there and that you can stay “He’s also very consistent in the locker room, on the changed is his approach. in California and embrace the opportunities there and still ice, in class and with his teammates.” “It’s not about changing who you are,” he said. “It’s play Division I.”



California Rubber Hockey Magazine

California Rubber Magazine - December 2018  

The December issue of California Rubber Magazine, featuring California natives playing NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Denver,...

California Rubber Magazine - December 2018  

The December issue of California Rubber Magazine, featuring California natives playing NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Denver,...