Rubber Hockey - February 2023

Page 1

Milestone first tender signing for NAHL’s Grit

After the NAHL announced last month that the Colorado Grit would be joining the league for the 2023-24 season, it was only a matter of time before the team began to tender players for next season.

The team’s first signing, Marek Thompson, is a local Fort Collins native playing the 2022-23 season on the blue line for the Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass.

Thompson said it’s very exciting to be given the opportunity to play for the Grit next season.

“Hockey is a small world,” said Thompson. “Rhett Gordon, one of my former coaches, talked to (Grit coach Steve) Haddon and (owner David) Clarkson about me, and Haddon reached out to me for a conversation. It’s an honor to be the first tender, especially as a hometown guy, and it’s practically a dream come true to return to Colorado to play juniors in such a competitive

Hockey harmony: The life of a hockey mom

I have been a hockey mom for over 10 years.

The beginning is important but not as important as the story. The story starts with learning to skate, hockey tots and house play, beginning at age five. It quickly and accidentally turned into travel hockey, known to some as club hockey. He was eight at that time.

The excitement is real. The commitment is intense. The life is awesome….most of the time. When they are younger, you find the celebration in all the positives. You scored the great goal, you skated faster than the others, you blocked so many shots. As they age, it turns into, what was that pass? Stick on the ice! Don’t shoot at the chest!

My son who started at five and did the learn to skate, the hockey tots and played house, has turned into a 15-year-old who has played travel since the age of eight and now plays both travel and high

Continued on Page 5 Continued on Page 21 Eastvale native and Boston College star Cayla Barnes was named Hockey East Defender of the Month for January. More on page 20. Photo/John Quackenbos FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Arvada native, Thunderbirds standout Scarafoni makes plans for ‘23-24 season with Anchorage NAHL tender

Moving on to junior hockey has been a long time coming for Arvada native AJ Scarafoni.

Playing this season for the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 18U AAA team, Scarafoni recently signed an NAHL tender to play next season for the Anchorage Wolverines.

“I met the director of scouting for Anchorage while I was attending the USHL Combine in 2021,” explained Scarafoni. “He was coaching the team I was rostered on and we made a great connection. They evaluated my play over the next few years and reached out with some interest. The Anchorage staff watched live-stream games and in-person showcases and they liked what they saw.

“Knowing the NAHL sends so many kids to college hockey, that is a deciding factor for me. I want to play hockey at a higher level and I hope to end up on an NCAA Division I team and play at college. It may take me a year or two to make it there, but my intentions are to end up playing college hockey.”

According to Scarafoni, there is a lot to like about heading up to Alaska.

“What appeals to me about the team is the community support that Anchorage has, and the fact that it

seems like a great city to be in,” he said. “I will be graduating in May and I am looking forward to leaving home and joining the team. I thought about leaving last year, but it didn’t happen, and I was able to spend my senior year with my classmates and my family. I think the timing couldn’t be better.”

Scarafoni said this season has been “a bit of a rollercoaster.”

“We had a few key players leave our team and several new faces join our locker room,” Scarafoni said.

“The trips we have gone on this year have helped the team bond and learn to trust each other, on and off the ice. We seem to be finding our rhythm as the season is winding down. On a personal level, playing 18U AAA hockey, I am being exposed to bigger,

stronger, and older players. I have had to keep up with that talent, and it has pushed me to work harder and be a leader.

“This year playing with the 18U AAA T-Birds, my team has traveled 10 times out of state. Those trips are an amazing part of the journey and they create a bond with the guys on the team, traveling on planes, buses, etcetera. it is a special time and I anticipate the junior season next year to be very similar in that aspect. The coaches I have this year are preparing me for the situations and physical level I will experience in juniors.”

Back home, Scarafoni started off at the age of three playing Mites for the Arvada Hockey Association. After his second year of Bantam AA

with Arvada, he made the jump to AAA hockey with the 15O Thunderbirds.

“During my time at Arvada, I was on fantastic teams and lucky enough to win many state titles and many tournaments, including the Colorado Avalanche International Qualifier,” said Scarafoni. “I was part of the Jr. Avalanche team in 2018 who had the great opportunity to play in Finland and Sweden in the Nordic Hockey Trophy International Tournament. During my time at Arvada, I was fortunate to have my father Marcus Scarafoni as my head coach. He helped push my skill set and constantly reminds me that hard work and dedication are the tools that will get me to a higher level of hockey. Coaches who have impacted me so far in my career are my father and several of the Thunderbirds coaches, especially this year’s coach Phil Patenaude.”

Going forward, Scarafoni has reachable goals, on the ice and in the classroom.

“Graduating in the top of my class with a 4.417 GPA is my first goal, and I have worked hard to keep that GPA and want to continue pushing at school,” said Scarafoni. “The shortterm goal is to make the final roster in the NAHL for the Anchorage Wolverines and continue to get noticed in the USHL.”

California’s Ivey twins commit to NCAA Division I Army West Point

Twin brothers Ben and Jack Ivey are playing together this season for the NAHL’s Amarillo Wranglers after many years with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and SDIA Oilers.

Last month, the 18-year-old San Diego natives and forwards each committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Army West Point (Atlantic Hockey).

Ben Ivey currently ranks fourth in team scoring with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 41 games to date.

“Proud to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey at

Army West Point. Would like to thank my parents, brothers, coaches, and teammates for supporting this journey. Honored to be a Black Knight,” said Ivey on social media.

Jack Ivey is sixth in team scoring with 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 41 games this season.

“I am proud and excited to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey at Army West Point. I would like to thank my family, coaches, teammates, and friends who have supported me on my hockey journey,” said Ivey on social media. FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
AJ Scarafoni is willing to do whatever it takes to help his Colorado Thunderbirds’ 18U AAA team win important hockey games. Photo/Lisa Scarafoni Ben Ivey Jack Ivey Photos/NAHL

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Words from the publisher...

We are getting into the home stretch for many hockey seasons at various levels and it’s always a bittersweet time of the hockey calendar.

While some teams will raise banners and bring home medals, others will not.

That doesn’t mean those teams had subpar seasons. Not by a long shot.

Obviously, hockey is a sport that runs year-round. Some play it all 12 months, and some take a break. Nothing wrong with either one.

That’s what makes this game so great. There really is no offseason.

And when you are done playing competitively, there are more and more adult leagues sprouting up everywhere you look. That’s certainly a good thing.

You can’t say that about every sport. Some, like football, once a kid plays his last high school game, that’s probably it. Maybe a fun game in the yard here and there, but nothing that comes close to competition that counts.

This is also a fun time of year because youth hockey teams are getting ready to give their all with state tournaments coming up, and for a select handful, a trip to national tournaments. How can you not get pumped up for this time of the year? It’s all so exciting!

Also during this time of year, we start seeing exceptional youth players start to commit to junior and

college teams and junior players start to decide on their college destinations. We run stories on those milestones in pretty much every issue of Rubber Hockey, and this month is definitely no exception.

On a personal note, I learned a long time ago that once you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. From the first time I contributed to this publication way back in 2006, all the way to the present, this has never seemed like work to me.

Not one bit.

The people you meet in the hockey world stay in your life, whether that means you never lose touch or if you happen to lose touch and then run into one another at the rink years later.

Hockey is just like that.

Check out the hockey mom story

on page 1 in this edition.

I would pretty much guarantee that Tanya has heard from other hockey moms she once knew but hasn’t connected with in years. I think it’s basically a given.

Again, as we get into the conclusion of these seasons, keep up the good sportsmanship and cheer loud and cheer proud.

To all those teams playing into the spring, best of luck to you. To all those players moving on, wherever that may be, all the best.

And keep supporting Rubber Hockey. We are getting back to where we were, and that thrills me.

Contact me any time at (248) 890-3944 (call/text) and by email at

Looking forward to hearing from you! FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Rampage graduate Wallace finding positive experience in ‘22-23 with USPHL’s Blue Ox

Jack Wallace is originally from Iowa and is playing junior hockey this season in Minnesota.

It was his time in Colorado, though, that was the turning point in his hockey development, skating for the Colorado Rampage, Monument Hockey Academy, and Lewis Palmer High School.

This season, Wallace is a rookie defenseman for the USPHL’s Minnesota Blue Ox.

“They saw me play and I made connections during the summer while doing NAHL camps,” Wallace said. “I also had connections from Team Colorado. I liked the program they ran and the Blue Ox knows how to win and develop players. I liked (coach-GM) Jay Witta from the first talk we had and it is just great to have the ability to keep playing hockey in

Jack Wallace has played steady ‘D’ this season for the USPHL’s Minnesota Blue Ox.

a competitive and fast league. I also found out that a couple of my old hockey buddies were on the team, too.

“I think as a team, we are learning and going through the season together leaving no one behind. We are getting along well and all focused on the same thing, to win and if we play our

game and all buy in, we can do great things because why can’t it be us? Me personally, I have improved a lot this year and can give a performance that will let our team have a winning chance.”

Billeting this season was no issue for Wallace since he was fortunate enough to be able to move to Minne-

sota with his parents.

“It is very fun living in Minnesota,” said Wallace, a native of Ankeny, Iowa. “It has so much hockey happening all around and it is super cool to be able to skate outside with the boys every day since there are outdoor rinks everywhere. Also, we get a good amount of snow here, which is awesome.”

In Colorado, Wallace said he was influenced by coaches Pat Bingham, Scott Bradley, and Steve LaMere.

“I followed my buddy out to Colorado because they had a TPH-style program,” Wallace said.

Moving forward this season and beyond, Wallace has goals in place.

“Short term is to make friends, get better at hockey, and be a better person,” said Wallace. “Long term is to play college hockey, get a good education, and take the right steps to lead me to a job I love doing.”

‘Hockey is a lifestyle, not just a sport’

Continued from Page 1 school hockey.

I won’t get into the debate of playing both high school and travel at the same time. I have seen both the positive and negative but wouldn’t want to deprive any dedicated player the opportunity of both. AHSHA and travel try to balance both and with the pros and cons, do their best to keep it fair and an amazing experience, each in their own right.

This is another story for another time.

This story is about what I have seen this year. My son lost his team of seven years when Gila River Arena closed ice to youth hockey. Again, another time for this opinion on how this impacted youth hockey.

What did happen is that a team that was glued together by a common coach and a core group of players who played many years together got displaced.

Some went here, some went there, but almost all continued in some capacity. Some went high school only, some joined other travel teams, some

joined high school, some did both high school and joined another club.

What impressed me most this year was what I saw as loyalty to the sport. I saw a team displaced from Gila River turn into teams in different clubs, but friendships stay loyal. On the ice, they are fierce competitors. But before and after the game, they help each other on the ice or have quick pats of support in disguise during games.

Let me give you a few examples.

In a game of rival travel teams, I witnessed a Mission team member go down, but a Jr. Sun Devils player stay by his side because they were teammates in years past. I saw the Jr. Coyotes team post support for a Jr. Sun Devils team when they were both playing out of state. They were Arizona teams supporting each other.

In high school, I just witnessed coaches supporting each other in D1 playoffs, recognizing each other for supporting their teams in difficult times.

I am sure other have many more examples and experiences of the

amazing hockey community we have. Don’t get me wrong, we have a fierce competitive spirit. My son plays on a high school team with a player he has played with since he was seven years old. He also plays against the same player in with his travel team

in divisional play. We celebrate together in the high school realm, and we compete in the travel realm. But we love each other every day as a hockey family.

Hockey is a lifestyle, not just a sport. FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Photo/John Sumner Jake Gabrick and Logan GIbbs are lifelong hockey friends. Photos provided

NCDC All-Star Game Series coming to Foxboro Sports Center Feb. 21

The National Collegiate Development Conference, the USPHL’s Tier II tuition-free hockey league, will present its 2023 NCDC All-Star Game Series on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Foxboro Sports Center in Foxboro, Mass.

Held after the conclusion of another great event at Foxboro Sports Center – the South Shore Kings Presidents Day Showcase – the NCDC All-Star Game Series will feature two games. One game will feature the “Best of the Best” from across the NCDC. Making its return is the popular NCDC Young Guns game, featuring a mix of current, younger NCDC players, as well as other top athletes affiliated with NCDC organizations at the Midget or Junior levels. Each All-Star team will feature 21 players – generally 12 forwards, six defensemen and three goaltenders.

The NCDC “Young Guns” All-Star Game will kick off at 11 a.m. and the

“Best of the Best” game will begin at 1:30 p.m.

The NCDC, founded in 2017, has sent more than 150 players to the

NCAA Division I ranks and more than 600 to college hockey in total. Seven former NCDC players have been selected in the NHL Draft,

including a North American Tier II high of three drafted directly out of the league in the 2021 NHL Draft.

The All-Star Game Series will be a first-class event, featuring hospitality and exclusive viewing areas for NHL and college scouts and coaches. Updated line charts will be available for all teams, both in print and in the RinkNet PressRoom app. Locker room areas will be open to scouts and coaches for player conferences following each game. League staff will be on hand to assist in any way needed.

For those who cannot join us in person, both games will be broadcast live on

We welcome all NHL and college coaches and scouts as well as families, friends and fans to join us at the 2023 NCDC All-Star Game. Admission to the event at Foxboro Sports Center is free of charge. FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

From the Trainer’s Room

Why choose Compete Sports Performance and Rehab?

You have so many choices in Orange County to send your athletes for sports performance training and injuries.

So why choose Compete Sports Performance and Rehab?

Simply put, Compete has a track record of success that you can trust. Our staff is highly qualified with experience at the highest levels, and we utilize evidence-based practices informed by research, experience, and patient goals.

Experienced Staff:

Our athletic trainers and strength coaches have vast experience in different sports at all different levels, from youth to professional sports.

Our athletic trainers have worked in professional hockey, football, and soccer, as well as at the Olympics.

All of our staff members hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree and are nationally certified.

Sports Performance Training:

Train with a purpose. At Compete, programs are designed to meet the specific needs of our clients and are phased throughout the year. Compete staff utilizes our experience, along with input from athletes and coaches, to devise the most successful training program. Programs are modified based on the client’s schedule. For example, we focus more on recovery if the athlete is coming off a game or tournament, or on prepping an athlete to be

ready for an upcoming event.

Compete has a proven track record of success, with over 150 clients committed to playing collegiate sports. Compete also continues to work with several professional and Olympic athletes to obtain their goals.

We apply our experience in a wide range of sports to incorporate injury prevention in order to keep each individual athlete healthy, regardless of what sport they play.

Sports Injury Rehab:

Compete employs athletic trainers who are knowledgeable and experienced in evaluating, managing, and treating sports-related injuries. Our goal is to get the athlete back to play as quickly and safely as possible.

Compete has a vast network of medical professionals, such as sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons who have experience working with high-level athletes. Our athletic trainers can expedite visits, as well as communicate with doctors, coaches, and athletes to ensure a better outcome.

Chris Phillips

Compete Sports Performance and Rehab has locations in California in Lake Forest, Yorba Linda, and Westminster.

For more information, visit www. or email

-- Compete Sports Performance and Rehab Staff

Show up to a tournament or showcase with a plan for success Tournament or showcase play can

take a major toll on an athlete’s mind and body.

Don’t just show up to a tournament or showcase – show up with a plan that will allow you to play at your best.

Prior to leaving for tournament or showcase:

• Take time to clarify goals for the event and be prepared.

• Don’t show up tired from hard training or the past weekend’s competition. Taper activity leading up to an important tournament or showcase.

• Make a packing list and check it twice: regular medications, rehabilitation/exercise equipment, all playing gear, and contact information for your medical team back at home.

• Will it be hot or cold? Make extra preparations for fluids, saltcontaining foods, shade, and change in clothing (wet clothing is miserable in heat or cold).

• Nagging injuries? Get them looked at before you leave and have a plan for continuing to play and recover.

• If driving, don’t try to set speed records for quickest arrival. Plan stops every 2-3 hours for food, fluids,

and light exercise to avoid cramping and stiffness.

• Identify medical support at the event and know where it is (including first aid kits, defibrillators, and athletic trainers).

• If medical support is lacking on site, find sport medicine clinics nearby for recovery and support.

A special note on showcases or identification camps:

• Please realize that most coaches use showcases or ID camps to take athletes off lists. It is very rare that athletes “wow” a coach and move up a list.

• Coaches have long lists and brief periods of time to see/evaluate each athlete. If an athlete isn’t playing well, coaches usually won’t take the time to ask about injuries; they will usually cross the athlete off the list and move on to the next player. So, if an injury makes you not at/near 100% of your usual playing ability, it is best to pass on the event until you are ready to show your full capabilities.

Night before game or tournament: FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Continued on Page 10 FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

How to prepare for strenuous grind of hockey tournaments, showcases

Continued from Page 8

• Concentrate on eating a balanced meal with lean protein, carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats.

• Eat low fat, high carbohydrate foods like pasta, potatoes, or rice (without cream sauces and butter).

• Include vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and squash to add a great source of calcium and fiber.

• Continue to drink lots of fluids, especially water. Your daily water intake should be 75% of your body weight in ounces. For example, 100 lbs = 75 ounces of water or about 2.5 liters.

• For a dessert or late-night snack, try fruit, sherbet, or yogurt.

• Get a good night sleep of 8 to 9 hours; rest is the key to recovery and optimal performance.

A special note about the importance of sleep:

• Sleep is probably the best and most under-rated and under-appreciated performance supplement. Lack of sleep is a momentum crusher.

• If deciding between an extra hour of sleep or an extra hour of training, recovery, or screen time; the extra hour of sleep wins every time.

• Being nervous about the competition while away from home, probably with a roommate, in a weird bed, and even in a different time zone is not the best recipe for falling and staying asleep.

Morning before games begin:

• If possible, eat breakfast 2-3 hours prior to competition.

• Eat light and low fat; avoid

greasy foods such as hash browns and sausages.

• Stick with familiar foods, especially with nervous pre-game stomachs.

• Try a bowl of cereal, bagel, fruit, fruit juice (1 cup is enough), yogurt, toast, waffles (pancakes can be too filling), and scrambled eggs.

• Continue to drink water. Stay away from sodas and caffeine drinks.

• Pack snacks with you: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, jerky, carrot sticks, water, and sports drink to avoid eating junk food at the snack bar.

Between games (short time; 1 to 4 hours):

• Perform a light cool down following game. For example, a 5–10-minute light jog or walk, repeat a dynamic warm up (etc.), followed by a general static stretch.

• Continue to hydrate with water and sports drinks (i.e., Gatorade); 8-16 ounces/hour is a good rule of thumb. Muscle cramps can be a sign of dehydration and low electrolyte balance.

• Bring your own familiar fluids. There’s nothing worse than drinking a new sports drink that doesn’t agree with you.

• Eat a light snack within 30-60 minutes of the end of the game. Some examples: a low-fat sandwich, fruit, soup, energy/granola bar (not high in protein), yogurt, or low-fat muffin.

Between games (long time; over 4 hours):

• Perform a light cool down following the game, as described above.

• Continue to hydrate with water and sports drinks (i.e., Gatorade); at least 24 ounces.

• Eat a normal size meal that is high in carbohydrates, low in saturated fat, and a smaller portion of protein than normal

• Get some rest and stay cool out of the direct sun. Take a short nap and elevate your legs up above your heart for 30 minutes to aid recovery.

Following last game of the day:

• Perform a light cool down following the game, as described above.

• Continue to hydrate with water and sports drinks (i.e., Gatorade); at least 24 ounces to replace electrolytes.

• Eat a regular size meal that is high in carbohydrates and protein (to help muscles repair) and low in saturated fat. Unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocado, and olive oil are okay.

• Remember the vegetables – eat your dark leafy greens and other colorful veggies. Have a salad at the end of dinner.

• Jump in an ice tub for 10 minutes. Fill the bathtub with a couple of bags

of ice and fill with enough water to cover your legs.

• Get that all-important good night’s sleep of 8 to 10 hours.

If you get hurt or sick:

• Use on-site medical support for the initial evaluation. This may be able to save you an urgent care/emergency room visit, however, if one is needed, the medical staff can give you a referral to a trusted location.

• Get electronic copies (or at least screenshot images) of x-rays or other images to share with the sports medicine team when you return home.

• Get electronic copies of any lab or other reports before you leave the facility.

• Contact your local sports medicine team for a follow-up appointment right when you return home.

• Don’t guess. If there is any doubt, sit out. No matter how much time and money has gone into the tournament or showcase, your health comes first.

Final words on tournaments and showcases:

• Plan to strike a balance between

Continued on Page 11 FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY TCS Hockey invites your team to register now for The Last Frontier Cup! Scheduled for May 5-7, 2023, the event will be played at the O’Malley Ice Center in Anchorage, Alaska! For more information and to register, visit

Dealing with MCL knee injuries: How to treat, how to recover

Continued from Page 10

business and fun.

• Yes, your primary goal is to perform at your best, and the performance of you and your team can be improved with well-planned sightseeing and bonding experiences.

• Some of an athlete’s most memorable experiences are off the field during road trips.

• Good plans that keep goals about sleep, nutrition, and recovery in mind can make those memories as positive as possible.

Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 20 years’ experience in professional sports. Chris was the athletic trainer for the Czech Figure Skating Team at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. He has also worked in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and

Washington Capitals and was also the head athletic trainer for the 2002 USA Hockey Men’s National Team. He is the founder of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Southern California. Chris can be reached at

Dr. Chris Koutures is a dual board-certified pediatric and sports medicine specialist who practices at ActiveKidMD in Anaheim Hills. He is a team physician for USA Volleyball (including participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympics), the U.S. Figure Skating Sports Medicine Network, Cal State Fullerton Intercollegiate Athletics, and the Chapman University Dance Department. He offers a comprehensive blend of general pediatric and sport medicine care with an individualized approach to each patient and family. Please visit

Knee MCL injuries in hockey

The medial collateral ligament in the knee, or MCL, was the secondmost common injury in NCAA hockey in 2013 as stated by Grant, Bedi, Kurz, Bancroft & Miller. The study showed that only concussions had a higher injury rate in male collegiate players.

The MCL is one of four ligaments in the knee and is located on the inside or medial portion of the knee connecting the femur and tibia.

The ligament’s purpose is to provide support to the inside of the knee helping prevent a valgus or inward movement of the joint. This ligament can be injured when a player is either hit from the outside of the knee placing an inward force on the knee or can also be damaged when the player pivots or twists the knee and the skate sticks into the ice.

Though MCL injuries can be painful and debilitating, they rarely require surgery to repair them. Since

Continued on Page 14

With spring on the horizon, the Arizona Hockey Union still has ONE more tournament left on the schedule for the rest of the 2022-23 season! FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Interested in playing junior hockey for the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild? FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Dozen teams bring home championship banners from Inland Empire Tournament Series’ 2023 MLK Challenge

The Inland Empire Tournament Series, created and hosted by the Jr. Reign, continued its 2022-23 season Jan. 13-16 with the MLK Challenge at Icetown Carlsbad, Icetown Riverside, Ontario Center Ice, and Toyota Arena.

A total of 12 teams brought home championship banners at the conclusion of the thrilling weekend that featured 48 teams from Southern California, Northern California, Las Vegas and Arizona.

Varsity/High School

Champion: Empire Hockey Club

18U AA

Runner-up: DYHA Jr. Sun Devils

16U Elite

Ryan Howard’s two goals paced Empire’s offense in a 6-1 win over the Jr. Sun Devils to bring home the championship banner. Michael FoggMartinez, Jared Padilla, Satoro Etu, and Alexander Tatoian added goals, Preston Luk and Joshua Roman had two assists each, and Luka Strasser picked up the win in goal. Michael Gruntler scored DYHA’s goal and Nooa Riecks and Keegan Tinsdale shared time in the blue paint for the Jr. Sun Devils.


Champion: Jr. Reign 16U AA

Runner-up: Carlsbad Cosmos

Luke Tanner led the way for the Jr. Reign with two goals and an assist as the Jr. Reign picked up the 4-2 win in the title game. Logan Strasser and Christian Martinez added goals and Matthew Day took the win between the pipes. Mattias Hjarlmarson and Drake Dunphy scored for the Cosmos with Jaden Freeman playing goal for the entire game.

14U A/B

Champion: Anaheim Jr. Ducks

Runner-up: Jr. Reign Carlsbad

Mason Oard’s hat trick led the Jr. Ducks to the championship with a 7-1 win. Noah McCoy had a goal and an assist while Seth Heinrich scored twice and Zachary Blocher collected a goal. Easton Lee had a stellar game between the pipes. Vigo Garcia scored for the Jr. Reign and James

Paz had a good showing in goal.

12U BB

Champion: Jr. Reign 12U BB Riverside

Runner-up: Tri-Valley Blue Devils

12U BB1

Alex Whitehead’s three goals and an assist led the Jr. Reign to capture the banner with a 7-2 win over the Blue Devils. Bonhoeffer Rhee and Andrew Ito scored, with Spencer Wills and Daniel Medina scoring once with an assist to support Rene Michaels’ play in goal. Shane Weeck had a goal and an assist for Tri-Valley, Jasper Hoffman added a goal, Parker Crudale chipped in two assists, and Zachary Kolar fared well in the Blue Devils’ crease.

10U BB/A

Champion: Jr. Reign 10U

A Carlsbad

Runner-up: Jr. Reign 10U BB Riverside

Nolan Thompson’s third-period goal was the difference for Carlsbad in a 3-2 win over Riverside. Thompson added an assist for a two-point game. Hunter Hine and Wolf Pritchett also scored and Kivik Jamack earned the win between the pipes. For Riverside, Foster Million and Tristan Zur Neiden scored with Andrew Morales and Teddy Wilson playing well in net.

10U B

Champion: Jr. Reign 10U BB Carlsbad

Runner-up: Jr. Reign 10U B2 Riverside

The Jr. Reign battle went to the 10U BB Carlsbad team, who scored three in the third period for the 7-5 championship victory. Roman Cournoyer had three goals and four assists

and Jaxson Jonas added three goals of his own with a pair of assists. Sawyer Ormeno chipped in a goal and two assists. For the Riverside squad, Jacen Mower scored twice, Riley Driscoll and Carter Hubbard each had a goal and an assist, and Sean Delaney also scored.


Champion: AHU Knights Silver B

Runner-up: DYHA Jr. Sun Devils

8U A2

The Jr. Reign potted four goals in the first period and never looked back in securing the championship with a 9-3 win over AHU.

8U B Shaggy

Champion: Jr. Reign 8U B1 Riverside

Runner-up: OC Hockey Club

Two Arizona teams met for the championship here, with the Knights besting the Jr. Sun Devils 7-1 to bring home the title.

8U A Apollo 1

Champion: Anaheim Jr.

Ducks 8U A2

Runner-up: Anaheim Jr. Ducks 8U A3

In a battle of Jr. Ducks teams, the 8U A2 team came away victors with an 8-1 win over their counterparts.

8U A Apollo 2

Champion: AHU Knights Silver B

Runner-up: DYHA Jr. Sun Devils Elite A2

The championship match between two Arizona teams went to the Knights, who took a 7-1 win to capture the title.

8U B Fred

Champion: AHU Knights Mites White A

Runner-up Ventura Mariners

The offense and defense were clicking for the Knights, who won the title with a 13-0 victory.

8U B Scooby

Champion: Jr. Reign 8U B2 Riverside

Runner-up: AHU Knights Mites White B

The Jr. Reign scored three goals in the first period and three in the second and held on for the 6-5 championship win as OCHC netted three goals in the third period to make the game close.

The next IE Tournament Series event is the Presidents’ Day Open, which is scheduled for Feb. 17-20.

For more information on the IE Tournament Series, visit www.jrreign. com/tournaments.

Quest Foundation

The South Coast Hockey Association DBA “Quest Foundation” is a registered not for profit 501C3 charitable organization dedicated to helping support children with a passion and a dream for the great sport of ice hockey and in becoming the best athletes and people they can be through world class hockey training programs.

The Quest Foundation believes every child deserves a chance to pursue their own Quest for their life.

It is the mission of the Quest Foundation to never allow financial barriers to be the reason that a child cannot pursue their dream to the fullest.

For more information, visit www. FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Why ankle mobility plays a major role in skating quality

Continued from Page 11

the MCL is located outside the joint capsule, unlike the ACL and PCL, it typically gets decent blood flow and heals fairly well. Recovery time usually ranges between two and eight weeks to a full recovery.

Initial management of these types of injuries include a short period of rest and ice to reduce any swelling or inflammation. Early range of motion exercises as soon 24-48 hours have shown to speed recovery and the rehab initially should be focused on regaining full motion of the knee, reduce swelling and regaining strength. As the ligament heals, the rehab should be focused on linear or straight forward movement which does not place any inward force on the knee.

The unfortunate thing here is that skating and shooting does place this type of force on the knee and will be one of the last phases of the rehab.

Once linear exercises and drills can be performed, lateral movement can be introduced. As these exercises and drills become pain free and there is no feeling of instability, the athlete can typically return to the ice and slowly integrate back into playing again.

When the athlete returns, he or she may benefit from wearing a hinged knee brace to provide extra support to the knee. Overall, though MCL sprains are pretty common in ice hockey, they heal fairly quickly and most fully recover without any longterm issues.

The importance of ankle mobility in skating

Have you ever heard a skating coach tell an athlete to get lower or get your knee over your toes? Sounds easy, but it may not always be the case.

These types of skaters may not physically be able to get lower due to either strength deficits or lack of mobility or flexibility. The end result is a tall skater who bends more at the waist or hips instead of getting low enough by bending the knees and the ankles to get a strong, powerful stride.

For this blog, we will look at the ankle joint and how a lack of mobility can affect skating.

In the last year, I have run into numerous professional and amateur hockey players who have injured

their ankle and never regained the mobility which is affecting their stride and skating mechanics. The ankle does not have to be injured to lose mobility. Mobility in the ankle is the range of motion in the joint both weighted and unweighted and with the knee straight and bent. In healthy athletes, this mobility can be restricted by tight muscles in the calves. This can be due to recent growth spurts, an increase in intensity in office training such as running or jumping or just body type.

So how do you know if your ankle mobility is restricted?

A simple test is to place your foot flat on the ground and pointing forward with your toes approximately three inches from the wall. You should be able to squat down a bit, bending your ankle forward (dorsiflexion) and touch your knee to the wall without lifting your heel or your


Ways to figure out if your ankle mobility is restricted

Continued from Page 14

ankle rolling inward. In this position, the front leg which is being tested, should have some weight on it and you should be able to bend down and forward getting the knee over the toes as in a good skating position. Check

both sides and look for symmetry.

If you are unable to perform this easily, you may have limited ankle mobility. If you have failed this test, there are a few simple things to do to improve.

First, use a foam roll or lacrosse ball and roll out your calves from

your Achilles all the way up to your knee to loosen the soft tissue.

Then repeat the testing procedure, also known as ankle rocks ten times pausing each time you have rocked forward.

Add a calf stretch as well by placing your foot flat on the ground be-

hind you with a straight leg, feeling the stretch up higher this time. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds.

Repeat these steps three times daily on the road to increased ankle mobility and a better, more efficient skating stride.

Ralston Valley grad Jackson utilizing USPHL development model to earn NCAA D-III opportunity with Lebanon Valley

Garret Jackson honed his game growing up in Colorado and playing with associations in Aspen and Boulder before finishing up with Ralston Valley High School.

The past two years, the Arvada native has taken his game to a new level in Florida with the USPHL’s Palm Beach Typhoon, where he has worn the ‘C’ the past two seasons.

Starting next fall, Jackson will climb the ladder again in beginning his college career with NCAA Division III Lebanon Valley College, located in Annville, Pa.

“The opportunity for me to commit to LVC came after a USPHL showcase in Florida,” explained Jackson. “Coach (Don) Parsons talked to me and expressed how interested in me he was and how much he liked the way I play. After a couple more

months of LVC watching me, I got the opportunity to commit.

“The things that appealed to me about their program are the head coach, facilities, and location.”

Jackson noted that academics have always been a top priority for him and that he’ll pursue a Business Ad-

ministration major at LVC. Back home, Jackson said his hockey career began innocently enough.

“I started playing hockey because I saw my dad playing and my family would always watch the Avalanche and it was all I wanted to do,” Jackson said. “The Avalanche have had a

major impact on hockey for me being a fan had truly made me fall in love with the sport.”

During his youth hockey days, Jackson also played for the Aspen Leafs and Boulder Hockey Club.

“The coach that has had the biggest impact on me is my (Typhoon) coach Joe Flanagan,” said Jackson. “He has provided me with so many opportunities and helped me become a better player and a better leader because I have been the captain there the past two years.”

Looking ahead, Jackson has the mindset to be successful.

“Some long-term goals are to really have a successful next few years at Lebanon Valley and be a real impactful player there,” Jackson said. “Some short-term goals for hockey are to finish my last year of juniors strong and try to take my team as far as we possibly can this year.”

Tigers star Noble using time in NAPHL to land tender agreement with NAHL’s Norsemen

Nicholas Noble has spent the last three seasons with the Colorado Springs Tigers, shining in NAPHL play.

Earlier this month, Noble signed an NAHL tender agreement with the NAHL’s St. Cloud Norsemen.

The 18-year-old Noble is in his second season with the Tigers’ 18U AAA team and has recorded 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 16 NAPHL games so far during the 2022-23 season. His 14 points is tied for second in team scoring.

Noble is also serving as the team captain for the Tigers for the 2022-23 season.

In 34 games overall this season, he has 28 points on nine goals and 19 assists.

Noble had a breakout campaign in 2021-22 with 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 28 NAPHL games. For his efforts, he was named to the All-NAPHL 18U Team for the West Division.

During his first season in the NAPHL with the Tigers’ 16U AAA team in the 2020-21 season, the Missouri native recorded nine points (four goals, five assists) in 19 games.

-- NAPHL Staff

Garret Jackson captains the USPHL’s Palm Beach Typhoon. Photo/Lori Haglund Nicholas Noble has been impactful for the Photo/Steve Robinson

USPHL standout, Moreno Valley native Bugarin heading east to Framingham State after recent NCAA D-III commitment

The end of an era is coming, as Scott Bugarin is ready to lead the Pueblo Bulls to the end of their season – hopefully for them at USPHL Nationals – before becoming a Framingham Ram next fall.

It’s the end of a Premier career forged in 2019-20. It’s also the end of a three-year Premier run for the Bulls, as they transition to the NCDC West in 2023-24.

Wearing No. 2 for the Bulls, Bugarin, a 2002 birth year from Moreno Valley, has just committed to Framingham (Mass.) State University. He will be majoring in Business Information and Technology.

Bugarin started speaking with Framingham around the Christmas break after the Bulls finished their run at the USPHL Chicago Showcase.

“Coach [Mike] Bailey liked my two-way game coupled with my ability to make plays and finish. I felt the play style and composition of the team offered an opportunity to play and be successful as a freshman,” said Bugarin, who has posted 44 points in 43 Bulls games this year.

As for the academic side of Framingham, Bugarin was interested in

the number of different majors and paths that they had to offer that suited his interest in finance.

“This major intrigued me with its wide range of applications in the business world to start my career,” he said.

Going from California to Colorado is already a big enough jump, going to Massachusetts is a huge commitment. When discussing his commitment and the move, Bugarin had plenty to say.

“I have been fortunate enough to

previously have played in Massachusetts and the New England area for about a year and a half,” said Bugarin. “The familiarity with the area, and the unique opportunity the hockey presented made it an easy choice.”

He has played in a total of 98 games (through Feb. 9) in his USPHL career, 43 of those with the Bulls. This season so far, the center has posted a 21-23-44 line with three game-winning goals. There’s no other team he would rather have by

his side.

“The Pueblo Bulls organization has done an excellent job in not only helping me earn my college commitment but has molded me into a better person in my time as a Bull,” said Bugarin. “The treatment of the players as professionals, and their unwavering dedication to the community makes the Bulls a very special place to play.”

Prior to the Bulls, Bugarin also played for Ogden Mustangs, Bridgewater Bandits, the former Anaheim Avalanche and the Twin City Thunder, over which his career scoring line was 38-40-78.

“The USPHL Premier provided me with a highly competitive landscape to showcase my skills for college,” said Bugarin. “The Mountain Division in particular is extremely tight and fast paced division. The level of competition is ultimately what put me in the position to succeed.”

With the exciting news of a commitment to a higher level of playing FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY the hockey pro shop caters to hockey players of any age! Located in Scottsdale at 14880 N Northsight Blvd, this shop offers gear, supplies, dry land training, mobile skate sharpening and equipment cleaning, and a world-class retail experience. For more information, visit, call (480) 597-4348, or email
For more, visit USPHL.COM

Eight champions crowned as IHAAZ starts 2023 season with exciting Tucson event

The 2023 IHAAZ season began in earnest over the Jan. 20-22 weekend in Tucson for the first tournament of the season.

Eight champions were crowned at the Tucson Indoor Sports Center as the Arizona Outlaws Black won at 8U, Arizona Jr. Wildcats at 10U, the Arizona Outlaws at 12U Gold, Prescott Roughriders at 12U Silver, TPH Knighthawks Blue at 14U Gold, Arizona Outlaws Maroon at 14U Silver, and the Yuma Blaze bringing home the 16U/18U Gold championship with the Northern AZ Yeti skating away with the 16U/18U Silver championship.

“For a season-opener event, this weekend had all the intensity of a state championship by the championship games,” said IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky. “Those teams that jump in later in the season to play aren’t going to know what hit them.”


Drake Madia popped three goals for the Outlaws (pictured above), who also got two goals each from Anthony Snitzer and Sibani Shabalala in the 8-7 championship game win over the Yuma Blaze.

Callum Hardy also scored and Bryson Weres stopped four shots in goal.

For the Blaze, Talon Ducharme scored five goals, Everett Jones the other two, and Colton Murphy made five saves between the pipes.

In round robin play, Madia led all players with 12 goals and 15 points while Weres collected three wins with a 4.00 goals-against average and a .600 save percentage. Murphy and the Arizona Outlaws Maroon’s Elias Beard each posted one shutout apiece.


Connor Hillegonds‘ three-goal, one-assist effort led the Jr. Wildcats past the Outlaws by a 10-2 count.

Ben Van Houten also scored three goals, Gia Alvarez notched a pair of goals, Isaac Closter went for a goal and an assist, and Kanoa Weir chipped in a goal as Ryland Scott finished with four saves in goal.

Easton Marquardt tallied both Outlaws’ goals and Wyatt Schaeffer stopped seven shots in net.

During the round robin, Hillegonds had eight goals and nine points, Marquardt and Alvarez four assists, and Scott recorded two wins, an 0.50 GAA, .917 save percentage, and the lone shutout.


The Outlaws were led by Evan Tzeng’s hat trick in a 5-2 title victory over the Arizona Jr. Wildcats Gold team in the Gold title game.

Marcus Hancock and Aiden Grabner added goals and Gavin La Rose stopped 25 shots for the win.

Sam McCloud had a goal and an assist for the Jr. Wildcats, Henry Shoun scored the other, and Keoni Weir registered 28 saves.

In the Silver title game, Ryan Hovlid recorded three goals and an assist with Alec Bond adding two goals and two assists to pace the Roughriders to an 8-3 win over the Arizona Jr. Wildcats Silver.

Megan Bond chipped in a pair of goals and Oliver Bond scored once as Mason Hilton made four saves in goal.

Gavin Molina, of the Jr. Wildcats Gold, led the round robin with six goals and eight points, Grabner recorded five assists, and La Rose didn’t allow one goal while compiling a 0.00 GAA, a 1.000 save percentage and three shutouts while tying Weir with three wins.


In an all-TPH Knighthawks Gold final, Liam Bump collected three goals and an assist and Aidan Wise scored three as well as the TPH

Knighthawks Blue squad doubled up the TPH Knighthawks Green team 8-4.

Owen Smailys went for a goal and two assists, JR Zaino also scored, and Brooklyn Waterhouse tacked on three assists to back Lennon Mikkan‘s 16 saves between the pipes.

For the TPH Green team, Landon Jans scored two goals, Ethan Uster and Sam Koch each posted a goal and an assist, and Maddox Marshall finished with 19 saves.

As for the Silver final, the Outlaws blanked the Jr. Wildcats as Gavin La Rose stopped all 19 shots he faced. Gavin Molina had a goal and an assist and Evan Tzeng and Keegan Sanguigni scored in the win.

London Simpson made 18 saves in goal for the Jr. Wildcats.

Koch ran the table in the round robin, leading the way with eight goals and eights assists for 16 points. Goalie-wise, Mikkan and Marshall each had a 2.00 GAA, Mikkan was tops with a .833 save percentage, Marshall had four wins, and La Rose and Simpson each nailed down a shutout.


Austin Estes led the way offensively for the Blaze, tallying five goals and an assist in the 8-3 Gold final over the Outlaws.

Trevor Dicori added a goal and two assists, Brandon Ott a goal plus a helper, and Matthew Boelts chipped in a single goal. Between the pipes, Jackson Gebhart turned aside 12 shots in the win.

Ryan Nicholas had a goal and an assist for the Outlaws to go along with single goals from Zayne Maragh

and Jackson McCutcheon. Keegan Tinsdale stopped 20 shots in the loss. The Silver final saw the Northern AZ Yetis edge the Serial Grillers 4-3 on the strength of two goals from Preston Pifer and 18 saves from Dallin McShane.

Quinn Bereson and Liam Smith also scored for the Yetis.

For the Serial Grillers, Austin McPherson netted a pair of goals, Damian Kostadina scored one, and Connor Blondel finished with a dozen saves in goal.

During round robin play, Estes posted 10 goals and tied with the Serial Grillers’ Eli Shulman with 11 points, while Ott notched six assists. In goal, Tinsdale had the lone shutout and Blondel had a .889 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA while tying with Tinsdale and McShane with a pair of victories.

In reflecting on the first event of 2023, Boyarsky said he is anxiously awaiting to see what’s next on the horizon for IHAAZ as the tournament season rolls on.

“It’s always a different look in IHAAZ early on when a majority of our teams are still trying to balance their ice hockey schedules with our events,” Boyarsky said. “Those teams that can make the earlier events will definitely come into the tail-end of the season with an advantage after watching the level of play in all five age groups and divisions.”

The next IHAAZ tournament was held at Yuma’s Kennedy Memorial Park Feb. 10-12 with five divisions competing (8U, 10U, 12U, 14U, 18U).

“Yuma is always one of our most exciting and fun events with the outdoor setting and awesome barbecue the Blaze program offers,” said Boyarsky. “We anticipate some California teams will be making the trip out to Yuma, so it should be a good time.” FEBRUARY 2023
For more, visit IHAAZ.COM

Westminster’s Cesario heading home for 2024-25 season with recent commitment to NCAA Division I Air Force

Joe Cesario spent his youth hockey days with the Hyland Hills Jaguars and Rocky Mountain RoughRiders before starting his junior hockey career this season with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness.

For the 2024-25 season, the Westminster native will be heading home after recently committing to NCAA Division I Air Force (Atlantic Hockey).

“The opportunity came about after my first few games in the NAHL,” Cesario said. “The Air Force Academy scouts saw me play in the NAHL Showcase and reached out to me immediately, which caught my attention. After touring the campus and seeing all the Academy had to offer, not only with their hockey program but also with my college education, I was so impressed.

“I am extremely happy to have the opportunity to commit to such a great program, and feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.”

Cesario said there is a military his-

tory in his family as his two grandfathers served in the Army and are now retired.

This season with the Wilderness, Cesario has compiled 13 goals and 23 points in 36 games.

“Really proud of Joe being rewarded for his hard work this season,” said Minnesota head coach Brett Skinner. “Being from Colorado, it really feels like a good fit for both Joe and Air Force and we couldn’t be happier for him.”

Once he arrives in Colorado Springs in the fall of 2024, Cesario said his intended major is Aerospace Engineering.

“That’s another big reason I chose the Air Force Academy - the amazing Aerospace program.”

In choosing to attend the Air Force Academy, Cesario noted that the decision was the result of the hard work of more than just himself.

“I want to thank my family, friends, teammates, and coaches,” Cesario said. “They have pushed me and made me a better player and person every day.”

Greenwood Village’s Gudridge ‘extremely excited and proud about’ committing to NCAA D-I Dartmouth

Jordan Gudridge doesn’t turn 18 until the end of June, but the talented defenseman out of Greenwood Village has his future planned out after recently committing to NCAA Division I Dartmouth College (ECAC Hockey).

Gudridge is enjoying his rookie season with the USHL’s Madison Capitols and said the Dartmouth commitment has been a long time coming.

“I had been in contact with assistant coach Troy Thibodeau since my 15U year and only this year did I get in contact with head coach Reid

Cashman,” explained Gudridge. “We made the decision that I would visit the school in December, and shortly after, I knew that Dartmouth was the place I wanted to grow and excel as a student and hockey player. Committing to an Ivy League school is something that I am extremely excited and proud about. All my life, my main priorities have always been hockey and school.

“When the opportunity arose to continue being a student athlete at Dartmouth, the decision was extremely easy to make.”

As to when Gudridge will start his freshman year, that timeframe is still up in the air.

“The plan is to return to the USHL

after this current season and play another year, then judge where I am at,” Gudridge said. “The coaches are extremely involved with me and they consistently make an effort to connect with me and discuss how I am

feeling. The coaches have also been great at communicating with me that there is no reason to rush the process and it will all happen whenever they

Continued on Page 20 FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Joe Cesario has had a successful 2022-23 rookie junior season with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness. Photo/NAHL Jordan Gudridge is rounding out his game with the USHL’s Madison Capitols this season. Photo/Rosenau Photography

Dartmouth career on tap for Thunderbirds grad Gudridge

Continued from Page 19

feel and I feel I am ready. I can not thank the coaches enough for how welcoming and supportive they have all been.”

In the classroom, Gudridge is taking a small detour from what the original plan was.

“I am currently unsure about what I want to major in, but I have a few choices I am interested in,” said Gudridge. “Before committing to Dartmouth, I was interested in majoring in something Business-related. However, Dartmouth does not offer

an undergraduate business major. Through my own research and talking with the coaching staff, I learned about the possibility of majoring in Economics. I am fascinated by Economics and could definitely see myself pursuing it.”

At the end of the day, Gudridge knows that making a life-changing decision like this means he has many people to thank for helping him on his journey.

“Obviously, I would like the thank my entire family; nothing would be possible without my family,”

Gudridge said. “My mom and dad have given me endless support and allowed me to follow my dreams my entire life. They have been the most amazing parents, and I truly cannot thank them enough. My grandma has sacrificed so much to see me succeed and nothing I have done would be possible without her. I cannot thank her enough for the constant support she always shows. My brother and sister are my best friends. I want to thank them for always supporting my decisions and being there for me no matter the circumstance. Next, I

would like to thank my advisor and all of the coaches that have been a part of my hockey journey. Each and every coach has guided me and showed me what it takes to get to the next level, and for that, I am forever grateful. I would also like the thank the entire coaching staff at Dartmouth for giving me this unbelievable opportunity to pursue my dreams.”

Back home, Gudridge played for the Arapahoe Warriors, Krivo School of Hockey Elite, and the Colorado Thunderbirds.

Eastvale native, California youth hockey grad Barnes earns monthly Hockey East accolades starring for Boston College

Boston College women’s hockey senior Cayla Barnes has been named the Hockey East Defender of the Month.

Barnes totaled six points in the month of January, scoring two goals and adding four assists, while blocking 12 shots, recording 25 shots on goal and putting up a plus-7 rating.

Barnes finished second among defenders in scoring while tying for the lead in plus-minus rating.

The captain’s 25 shots on goal in the month was good for 10th overall and led all blue liners. The Eastvale

native helped the BC defense post two shutouts while helping the penalty kill unit to a 90.5 percent success rate.

Barnes, who was named the Hockey East Defender of the Week on Jan. 9, is currently riding a four-game point streak.

This is the first career Defender of the Month honor for Barnes.

During her youth hockey days, Barnes for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, Anaheim Lady Ducks, Stars, Selects, and Los Angeles Jr. Kings.

-- Hockey East

Las Vegas native, Jr. Golden Knights alum Mensch tabbed EHL Star of the Month

The EHL has announced that New England Wolves forward Heath Mensch is one of the January Stars of the Month.

Mensch and the Wolves returned well-rested from the holiday break, posting a record of 5-1-2 over the course of their eight games throughout the month of January. The 12 total points helped them maintain their spot in what looks like it will be a race between them and the Seacoast Spartans for the No. 2 seed in the North Division Playoffs.

As for the 2003-born native of Las Vegas, the lethal scorer continued along in his impressive inaugural campaign in the EHL. Mensch averaged two points a game, by tallying four goals and 10 assists in seven total contests.

For the season, Mensch now has 51 total points (20 goals, 31 assists), which ranks him fourth overall on the league’s scoring charts.

Back home, Mensch spent time with the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights.

-- EHL Staff

Las Vegas native and Jr. Golden Knights product Heath Mensch made the jump to the EHL this season with the New England Wolves and has been finding success at every turn playing out east. Photo/Rob Rasmussen FEBRUARY 2023
Cayla Barnes has been a steady force all year long for the Eagles. Photo/ John Quackenbos

USPHL NCDC Combine dates announced for Detroit, Chicago

The United States Premier Hockey League, and its tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference, are proud to announce their 2023 USPHL NCDC Combines, set to take place in Detroit, Mich. (April 28-29) and in Chicago, Ill. (May 13-14).

Players born between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2007, will be eligible for the Combines.

Between the NCDC, the USPHL Premier and the USPHL Elite, the USPHL as a League has more than 3,100 alumni playing in college hockey per year.

That number is sure to increase with the creation of the Tier II NCDC West, set to open in Colorado, Utah and Idaho in 2023-24.

The NCDC West will feature high-level hockey in front of packed houses in some of the most naturally beautiful locales in the United States. All teams have extensive staffs dedicated to each player’s on- and off-ice development as the NCDC expands from 14 to 20 teams nationwide.

Along the East Coast, the current NCDC organizations will continue to promote players to NCAA Division I schools out of deep and highly-tiered youth and junior organizations that put a priority on promotion from within up to the NCDC and on to college hockey.

No other league at both the Tier II and Tier III level sends more players to college hockey than the USPHL.

Registering for these Combines will put you as a player in front of coaches at all levels of USPHL Ju-

nior Hockey, allowing you to set Your Path To College Hockey!

Non-refundable* registration is $295 for each Combine.

The USPHL provides a great value to prospective players to show their skills in front of NCDC and USPHL Premier coaches and begin new relationships that will lead you on your own individual path.

Players will be guaranteed a minimum of three scrimmage games, and there will be goaltender-specific

training sessions at each event.

There will also be an informational seminar at each Combine about the United States Premier Hockey League and its unparalleled USPHL Development Model.

The USPHL NCDC Detroit Combine (April 28-29) will be held at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena at 200 North Groesbeck Highway, Mount Clemens, Mich., which is a 50-minute drive from the Detroit Wayne County Airport.

The USPHL NCDC Chicago Combine (May 13-14) will be held at the Fifth Third Arena at 1801 West Jackson Blvd., in Chicago, Ill. Fifth Third Arena is the practice facility for the Chicago Blackhawks. Located in downtown Chicago, it is just over 30 minutes drive from O’Hare International Airport, and under 30 minutes from Chicago Midway International Airport.

Combine Offerings

The cost for each two-day combine is $295, with a three-game guarantee as well as off-ice activities, and player evaluations.

Also included: accredited on-ice officials, and medical staff on site.

There will also be a Q&A/information seminar during each combine, where players and their parents, if in attendance, can ask questions directly of NCDC coaches and USPHL League officials.

The USPHL and its tuition-free division, the NCDC, are providing an unparalleled, comprehensive onand off-ice recruiting opportunity for players from throughout the world.

Sign up today, as registration will be limited.

* = Refunds will be available for those registered players who medically cannot attend the Combines, with a doctor’s note.

To register for the Combines or for more information, visit www.

Thompson coming home as first tender signing for new NAHL Grit franchise

league as the NAHL. Having the rink so near my home is a privilege that virtually no one gets, so I will not take it for granted. I’ve already been gone for two years, which makes it even more amazing that I’ll be playing in Colorado.”

Growing up, Thompson played for the NCYH Jr. Eagles until 14U when he made the jump to AAA and played for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders for a season.

“For a variety of reasons, my fam-

ily and I decided to return to play for Fort Collins High School, which I absolutely loved,” said Thompson. “I’ve had many outstanding coaches, which I’m really grateful for since I know that sometimes kids aren’t the greatest fans of their coaches. That being said, Rhett Gordon, my Bantam and summer skills director, is without a doubt one of the most impactful I have had in my career. Even now, living away from home, I could call or text him any time asking for hockey advice, which I greatly appre-

Continued from Page 1 Continued

ciate. My dad and brother have also acted as coach figures my entire life, which has also been something that I have massively benefited from.”

Aidan Thompson, a freshman at the University of Denver and a draft pick last summer of the Chicago Blackhawks, is an influence Marek said “has always been my toughest competition.”

“The things he has taught me, both purposefully and inadvertently, have shaped me into the person and FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
on Page 23
Marek Thompson will start his junior career next season. Photo provided

USPHL recognizes California, Utah products with monthly awards

The USPHL has announced its Players of the Month for January, and three California natives made the cut.

Ogden Mustangs forward Jake Meure (Fremont) is the Premier Mountain Division Forward of the Month, while Vernal Oilers goalie Antonio Tarantino (Fremont) is the Premier Northwest Division Goaltender of the Month and Northern Cyclones forward Josh Bruno (Los Angeles) is the Elite North Division Forward of the Month.

The #MeureWatch is on in Ogden as the San Jose Jr. Sharks product left January within 15 points of the league’s all-time scoring record. If he scores in February like he did in January, grabbing that record won’t be an issue.

The Buffalo State College (NCAA Division III) commit notched at least a point in 10 of 11 games and closed the month on a seven-game point streak, punctuated by his fifth hat trick of the season on Jan. 15 vs. Pueblo.

He finished the month with an overpowering 21 points (8-13-21) in 11 games and is currently tied for fifth in the league in overall scoring with 82 points (40-42-82) in 41 games.

You can’t keep a good goalie down, and Tarantino just keeps racking up the big honors.

He stopped 169 of 180 shots for a 2-0-1-1 record during the month of January for a .939 save percentage. The Premier veteran goalie put up a 36-save shutout over Rock Springs, and he stopped 58 of 62 in an overtime loss to Ogden. He has lost just once in regulation and is 17-1-1-2 overall this year and 25-4-1-2 overall. Back home, Tarantino played for the Jr. Sharks and Golden State Elite Eagles.

Bruno led the way for the Cyclones – and the North Division – with the division’s best points per game average of 2.00 with 20 points in just 10 games, and he also led the way for the division last month in goals with 10.

Bruno put on a show scoring 14 points in his last five games of the month and he now stands sixth in

Elite league scoring with 56 points in 35 games. He is also sixth in goals with 26.

During youth hockey, Bruno played for the Empire Hockey Club, Orange County Hockey Club, and the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.

In addition, Utah Outliers goalie Jaxon Letey is the Mountain Division Goaltender of the Month.

A 2003-born Salt Lake City native, Letey has been virtually unbeatable for Utah this season, and January was no exception.

Letey won five of his six starts and notched his second shutout on Jan. 21 over Pueblo, finishing the month with a 5-1-0 record and a 1.82 GAA.

Letey saw an increase in workload, starting back-to-back days twice in January, and responded by racking up an impressive .936 save percentage by making 30-plus saves in three different games.

He now ranks third among Mountain Division goaltenders in wins (11) and has allowed only 17 goals in over 690 minutes between the pipes for FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Jake Meure Antonio Tarantino Josh Bruno the Outliers. During his youth hockey days, Letey played for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders and Outliers programs. -- Joshua Boyd & Brendan Price/ Jaxon Letey

Grit roster starts with homegrown Fort Collins native Thompson

Continued from Page 21 on giving.

player I am today,” said the younger Thompson. “I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive older brother. The thing about Aidan is that no matter what, he’s always wanted the best for me, and he’s been tremendously helpful in my hockey career, pushing me to be the best version of myself every day, which is a gift that keeps

“Without Aidan constantly pushing me to be better, I wouldn’t be nearly the same player I am today.”

Moving forward, Thompson has aspirations he’d love to achieve in the immediate future and down the road, on and off the ice..

“My short-term hockey goals are to win a prep championship and finish

out this season as strong as possible,” Thompson said. “As a senior, I only have one more chance to win a high school championship and I’ve come close twice and fallen short, so I’d love to pull through in my senior year and win with all my friends. In addition to hockey, I want to finish my prep golf season strong.

“My long-term hockey goals are

to have successful junior and college hockey careers, hopefully continuing to play at the highest level possible for as long as possible. Long-term goals in life are a little harder to pin down at this moment, but I’d like to go to college, get a degree, play hockey and golf forever and make a few bucks doing something.”

Firebirds beaming with confidence, dazzling on, off ice in first AHL season

With half of their inaugural AHL season put to bed, it would seem that the first-year Coachella Valley Firebirds are very much for real.

The expansion franchise, the top affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, is not only a legitimate contender to capture a Calder Cup playoff berth, but perhaps even a division championship … or more.

Sound like something out of Cinderella fairy tale? It’s fact, not fiction.

The Firebirds, who were forced to play 22 consecutive games on the road before their home arena was completed, owned the 32-team league’s best winning percentage (.789) at the mid-season mark courtesy of a 28-6-3-1 record.

Coachella Valley pulled even with the Calgary Wranglers for the AHL’s Pacific Division lead the final weekend in December, then passed the Wranglers for sole possession of first place a week into the new year.

Coachella Valley doesn’t appear to be looking back either after riding a phenomenal 14-game point streak (13-0-0-1) into first place.

“We have a pretty confident group in what we do,” Firebirds forward Cameron Hughes told the Desert Sun newspaper. “I think if we just keep at it and sticking to what we know we can do, it’s going to pay off.”

The Firebirds have won while ahead and also coming from behind. Coachella Valley had its lengthy point streak challenged in a Jan. 22 home game against the San Diego Gulls, who held a 2-1 lead heading into the final period. The hosts roared back with three unanswered third-

period goals to claim a 5-2 win to grab two more valuable points in the standings.

“I told the guys that it’s great winning, but it’s better winning when you have to dig down and have a challenge in front of you,” head coach Dan Bylsma told the Palm Springs-headquartered newspaper.

With 33 of their 72 regular season game remaining on the 2022-23 schedule, the Firebirds can now look forward to creating a magic number to formally clinch a playoff berth and perhaps even a division title in advance of the playoffs, which start in April.

Seven of the 10 teams in the division qualify for the playoffs. As of Jan. 29, Coachella Valley owned a whopping 21-point bulge on the eighth-place team in the division.

It’s been nothing short of a magical season for the Firebirds, who have

already become accustomed to playing in front of large crowds in their first season on the ice.

The team attracted a full house of 10,087 fans for its inaugural game at Acrisure Arena on Dec. 18 – a 4-3 Firebirds win over the visiting Tucson Roadrunners.

The firsts have kept coming for the AHL’s newest team.

Coachella Valley held its inaugural Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 23. The Firebirds collected 7,278 stuffed animals to be donated to local charities.

The Teddy Bear Toss has become a holiday staple at the minor professional, junior and collegiate levels since its introduction in 1993. Fans toss stuffed toys onto the ice after the first goal scored by the home team in the game. The toys are then gathered up, usually by players of both teams on the ice, and donated to local hospitals or charities. Players often do-

nate the toys themselves during visits to children’s hospitals.

Coachella Valley fans had to wait a bit for the cue to toss the toys onto the ice, but it was worth it as Luke Henman‘s goal with 6:23 remaining in the third period stood up as the game-winner in a 1-0 victory against the Henderson Silver Knights in front of 8,631 fans inside Acrisure Arena.

There’s been plenty to engage fans with during the team’s inaugural season.

The Coachella Valley franchise held its inaugural Pride Weekend on Jan. 7-8 when players donned special rainbow-themed jerseys for both games. Proceeds from an online jersey auction benefited youth LGBTQ+ organizations in the region.

Upcoming promotions include Pink in the Rink on Feb. 4, Military Appreciation on March 11, Kraken Night on April 1 and Fan Appreciation on April 8.

Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky had the honor of participating in the ceremonial puck drop for the Jan. 22 home game against the Gulls. That’s recognition of the first order.

Moving on up

The Firebirds are also fulfilling another key component of being minor league affiliate by providing invaluable player development for the NHL parent club.

Veteran center John Hayden became Coachella Valley’s first call-up to the Kraken on Jan. 24 after collecting 13 goals and 25 points with the Firebirds in 34 games. He scored his first goal for Seattle on Jan. 27 in a 5-2 loss to the visiting Calgary Flames. FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
The first-year Coachella Valley Firebirds, playing out of the brand-new Acrisure Arena, have been a major storyline this season in the AHL. Photo/Eric J. Fowler

Boulder native Howanitz using EHL as springboard to commitment with NCAA D-III Worcester State

Christian Howanitz split the 202122 junior hockey season with the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds and USPHL’s Hudson Havoc.

For the 2022-23 season, the Boulder native went east for his final season of juniors, playing for the EHL’s Walpole Express, and he’ll stay in Massachusetts in 2023-24 with his recent commitment to NCAA Division III Worcester State University.

Worcester and Walpole are roughly 45 miles apart.

“His passion and work ethic, both on and off the ice, has a huge effect on our whole group,” said Express head coach Nic Cota. “This is one reason why he was selected as assistant captain. I’m excited to see what Christian brings to the table in the second half of the season, as he always is looking to be more effective. We have been lucky to have him and so will his next stop.”

In addition to his 11 points (seven

goals, four assists) in 37 games this season, Howanitz was also recognized with his election to the EHL All-Star Team that took on Nazareth College and SUNY Brockport back in October.

That experience helped further expose Howanitz to NCAA coaches at the next level, and ultimately helped lead to this commitment to the Lancers.

“I’m extremely excited to play at Worcester State for the next four years,” said Howanitz. “I can’t thank Coach Cota and the Express enough for helping me achieve my dream of playing college hockey.”

With this weight now off of his shoulders, one of the leaders of the Express can now turn his focus towards helping his team.

Back home, Howanitz played for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders and Colorado Springs Tigers.

Christian Howanitz found a home in the EHL this season with the Walpole Express, and he’s off to the NCAA next season. Photo/ Dan Hickling/Hickling Images

Colorado youth hockey alum Florit making major name for himself at NCAA Division III Arcadia

For Dylan Florit, his time spent in Colorado during his youth hockey career made a difference in helping him advance to junior hockey and, ultimately, college hockey.

Florit, a sophomore at NCAA Division III Arcadia University, located near Philadelphia, played two seasons for the Colorado Thunderbirds and one for Chapparal High School and the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders.

He then went on to two seasons with the USPHL’s Atlanta MadHatters before joining Arcadia’s firstever freshman class in 2021-22.

“Arcadia head coach Vincent Pietrangelo first contacted me after a USPHL showcase,” said Florit. “We started talking over the next few months and I ultimately picked Arca-

dia because the coach really showed me he wanted me and was excited about my game. Coach Pietrangelo said he needed a prime scoring threat and was giving me a chance to be a starting center as a freshman. The coach showed a lot of trust in me and has always been there for me.

“Arcadia was very aggressive in recruiting me. It was a good school and they were giving me a great opportunity to be an anchor player for a first-year program.”

At the end of last season, Florit was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year after scoring nine goals and 17 points in 25 games, “quite the honor,” according to Florit, a Sports Management major.

“Team wise, it has been an amazing experience to come together with good hockey players from all over

Continued on Page 26 FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Dylan Florit is fitting in well at Philadelphia-area Arcadia. Photo/Joe Kraus FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

USPHL grad Florit part of building new NCAA program with Knights

Continued from Page 24

and launch a program,” Florit said. “We are in a strong division (UCHC) with teams that have been around a lot longer than us, but we ended up surprising some of them.

“On a personal level, it is great getting the chance to play NCAA college hockey. I felt I grew into my role throughout last year.”

Back in Colorado with the Thunderbirds, Florit was part of a district championship team and also made

it to the final four with Chapparal, where he was named All-Conference First Team, All-State Second Team, and team MVP.

“As far as coaches are concerned, I think the coach that stood out the most was Coach (Ryan) Finnefrock for Chaparral High School,” said Florit. “It was a pleasure playing for ‘Coach Finn,’ who believed in me and my game. He was a positive force.

“Also, I have to say another coach

that stood out was Larry Barron, an elite skating coach who has worked with NHL players and Olympic skaters. I credit my speed and agility to Coach Barron.”

Originally from Hermosa Beach, Calif., Florit started playing hockey when he was seven years old.

“I got a chance to play with the AAA Anaheim Jr. Ducks, coached by ex-NHL players Craig Johnson and Scott Niedermayer,” explained Florit. “It was a great experience learn-

ing from ex-NHL players. We were one of the top teams in the country and traveled all over the U.S. and Canada.”

Now looking ahead, Florit has reachable goals and aspirations in mind.

“My school goal is to get my college degree in Sports Management,” he said. “Hockey will always be part of my life in some capacity as I love the sport and always will.”

Avalanche coach Bednar gets victory No. 266, now sits alone atop team coaching wins list

Jared Bednar isn’t one for celebrations, unless, of course, that means the Colorado Avalanche wins the Stanley Cup.

And while that indeed took place last June, Bednar eclipsed two more milestones last month in coaching his 500th NHL game (all with the Avs) and in beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Jan. 24, Bednar earned win No. 266 with Colorado – now the team record for most coaching wins, passing Michel Bergeron‘s 265 total from the 1980s when the team was the Quebec Nordiques.

“It’s a fine line between winning and losing, (and) there’s some worry in there,” Bednar said. “This isn’t a forgiving league. It’s a results-oriented league. Coaches tend to get moved on fairly quickly, I would say. I would say that I’m fortunate to work with people of the Colorado Avalanche organization. They’ve shown me a lot of trust. It’s a two-way street. After my first year, I thought there would be a better-than-average chance that I would be let go.

“I would just have to deal with it and move on, but I was fortunate to get the second chance in my second year. I thought we had a great year. It was a fun year. There were lots of changes personnel-wise, (and) there was a different attitude around the

room. They were young, fast. It was a team that was going to be rebuilding and I think we got there a lot quicker than most people thought we would. I wouldn’t say there was a lot of self-doubt, but a lot of eternal evaluation.”

As the third longest-tenured head coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper (2013) and Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins (2015), it’s obvious that the Avalanche players relish playing for the 50-year-old Bednar.

“He’s a new-era coach; he’s not like old-school coaches,” Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen said. “He can be very close to the players; he’s a player’s coach. He is very good with matchups. In the playoffs, it’s very important and he’s very good at thinking about what players should play together, against what line will they be matched up with, how should they play to be successful. It’s not easy to stay with one team for seven years, but he has, and we’ve been successful, too.

“We had those struggles to get past the second round, but, obviously, he was someone I was really happy for when we won the Cup last year.”

After winning it all last year, Bednar became the only coach ever to win at all three top professional hockey levels (NHL, AHL, ECHL). He coached the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL to a Kelly Cup championship in 2008-09, led the Lake Erie Monsters to an AHL Calder Cup championship in 2015-16 and helped the Avalanche to their third Stanley Cup in franchise history last June 26.

“His details and how he motivates players is pretty unique,” Avalanche forward Logan O’Connor said. “He gets players to play the right way and guys want to go to war for him because of how hard he works in his day-to-day preparation. He knows when to push guys and when to let off guys in different moments depending on the person and what will maximize their potential.

“He has a really great understanding of which guys work well together and when to give opportunities for guys to move up the lineup and when to reward guys for doing the right sort of thing. He gets the most out of his players. He demands a level of accountability, details and structure.

“I think because of all that, it’s not surprising he’s won at every level.”

(Quotes courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche)
Jared Bednar took the Avalanche to the 2022 Stanley Cup and is currently the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL. Photo/Colorado Avalanche FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY FEBRUARY 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Articles inside

Avalanche coach Bednar gets victory No. 266, now sits alone atop team coaching wins list

page 26

USPHL grad Florit part of building new NCAA program with Knights

page 26

Colorado youth hockey alum Florit making major name for himself at NCAA Division III Arcadia

page 24

Boulder native Howanitz using EHL as springboard to commitment with NCAA D-III Worcester State

page 24

Grit roster starts with homegrown Fort Collins native Thompson

page 23

USPHL recognizes California, Utah products with monthly awards

page 22

Thompson coming home as first tender signing for new NAHL Grit franchise

page 21

USPHL NCDC Combine dates announced for Detroit, Chicago

page 21

Eastvale native, California youth hockey grad Barnes earns monthly Hockey East accolades starring for Boston College

page 20

Dartmouth career on tap for Thunderbirds grad Gudridge

page 20

Greenwood Village’s Gudridge ‘extremely excited and proud about’ committing to NCAA D-I Dartmouth

page 19

Westminster’s Cesario heading home for 2024-25 season with recent commitment to NCAA Division I Air Force

page 19

Eight champions crowned as IHAAZ starts 2023 season with exciting Tucson event

page 18

USPHL standout, Moreno Valley native Bugarin heading east to Framingham State after recent NCAA D-III commitment

page 17

Ralston Valley grad Jackson utilizing USPHL development model to earn NCAA D-III opportunity with Lebanon Valley

page 16

Ways to figure out if your ankle mobility is restricted

page 16

Why ankle mobility plays a major role in skating quality

page 14

Dozen teams bring home championship banners from Inland Empire Tournament Series’ 2023 MLK Challenge

page 13

Dealing with MCL knee injuries: How to treat, how to recover

page 11

How to prepare for strenuous grind of hockey tournaments, showcases

page 10

From the Trainer’s Room

page 8

NCDC All-Star Game Series coming to Foxboro Sports Center Feb. 21

page 6

‘Hockey is a lifestyle, not just a sport’

page 5

Rampage graduate Wallace finding positive experience in ‘22-23 with USPHL’s Blue Ox

page 5

Words from the publisher...

page 4

Arvada native, Thunderbirds standout Scarafoni makes plans for ‘23-24 season with Anchorage NAHL tender

page 3
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