Rubber Hockey - April 2023

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APRIL 2023

Jr. Kings win Tier I 15O national championship in overtime

The Los Angeles Jr. Kings rallied from a two-goal deficit to take home the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15O National Championship on April 3 at the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, N.J., with a 3-2 overtime victory over Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

This marks the first-ever 15O national championship for the LA Jr. Kings, dating back to the debut of the 15O tournament in 2017.

The high-octane power play of Shattuck-St. Mary’s was on full display in the first period at the 9:00 minute mark, and Shattuck capitalized 45 seconds later when Gavin Kor found Wyatt Cameron open in the slot. Cameron rifled a one-timer for his third goal of the tournament.

At 10:30, Shattuck-St. Mary’s went on the man-advantage once more, and at 10:52, Kor made it a 2-0 game with helpers from Aaron Obobaifo and Cameron.

The middle frame was highlighted by strong goaltending at both ends,

In the closing minutes of the period, the Kings went on the power play with just 2:29 remaining. With

1:30 to go, Luke Norcross was able to punch the puck in from out front and get the Kings on the board with a power-play goal off a feed from Benjamin Kevan.

Just 1:52 into the third, the Jr. Kings’ Tyler Russell collected a pass from Garrett Russell at the point, and blasted a wrist shot that snuck through traffic past Glaser to knot the game up at two goals apiece. The remaining 15:08 of regulation remained scoreless, with both teams generating several strong chances but neither able to capitalize, and the game headed to sudden death overtime tied at 2-2.

In overtime, Garrett Russell collected a long stretch pass from Tyler Russell, powered into the zone and fired a shot short-side into the upper left corner to win the tournament. The 3-2 come-from-behind, overtime victory marked the Jr. Kings’ second comeback OT victory of the tournament, as they also rallied from down two goals to win 4-3 in OT in the quarterfinals.

Jr. Coyotes grad, Sun Devils captain Doan staying home, signs NHL contract with Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes announced March 16 that the team has signed Arizona State sophomore forward Josh Doan to a three-year, entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season.

Doan will report to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners and played his first professional game on March 17 against the Calgary Wranglers at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.

“We are very pleased to sign Josh to an entry-level contract,” said Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong. “Josh has played very well for ASU the past two seasons and has earned this deal. We look forward to continuing to watch his development the remainder of this season in Tucson.”

Doan, who notched his first AHL goal March 21 in a 4-1 win over the Ontario Reign in Tucson, was drafted

by the Coyotes in the second round (37th overall) of the 2021 NHL Draft.

He tallied his second goal April 8 in Tucson in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Texas Stars.

Doan has also collected three assists among his five points so far in 12 games with the Riadrunners.

A Scottsdale native, Doan recorded 16 goals and 38 points in 39 games with the Sun Devils this season.

He also registered 12 goals and 37 points in 35 games with the Sun Devils in 2021-22, setting school records for most points and assists by a freshman.

Doan, the son of former Coyotes captain Shane Doan, was named captain of Arizona State on Aug. 26, 2022.

Growing up, Doan developed his game with the Jr. Coyotes.

Josh Doan spent two seasons at Arizona State, recording 75 points in 74 games from 2021-23 for the Sun Devils. Photo/ Sun Devil Athletics APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
The Los Angeles Jr. Kings celebrate their 15O national championship April 3 in Wayne, N.J. Photo/Michael Carmo, Jr./USA Hockey with Shattuck’s netminder Garrett Glaser making 11 stops and LA’s Seid-Ali Nabiev making eight saves.

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Words from the publisher...

Well, here we are.

For all but some junior hockey leagues and professional hockey leagues, the 2023 offseason has arrived.

What a ride this past season was. Don’t you agree?

Just check out this current edition of Rubber Hockey. We had not one, not two, not three, and not four, but FIVE youth hockey teams from our coverage areas bring home USA Hockey national championships.

Incredible work by those teams’ players, coaches and staff.

All that hard work that started last summer has paid off in a way that everyone involved will never forget.

For the vast majority of those youth hockey players, those national championship medals and

memories will be the pinnacle of their hockey careers. The numbers are out there, how a very small percentage of athletes go pro.

But if that is the pinnacle, man, how amazing!

You will always have that bond with that team and those teammates. Even if you lose touch and meet up years down the road, I guarantee that the topic of converation will inevitably focus on the season you won it all and finished No. 1 in your age bracket in the entire United States.

No one will ever take those memories of that sense of pride from you.

As we get into the spring and summer months, some players stay on the ice, some rest, some hit the weight room, and some take up other sports.

The latter is not a bad thing.

When I talk to hockey players at all levels, I like to ask if they olayed other sports growing up and I have not met one player, male or female, that said hockey was all they did.

Many say lacrosse (a favorite in our household) and many say baseball and golf and a few have said tennis and soccer.

It’s only when kids get older and the sports’ seasons and commitment levels conflict that hockey wins out.

And again, not a bad choice at all, right?

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will soon be underway and for many hockey

fans, this is the best time of the year.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup at the end of the postseason? There are 16 teams, and soon it will be eight.

Then four. And then two.

And then the last team standing gets to raise the greatest trophy in sports.

Same goes for the just-completed college hockey and some junior seasons. Relish the memories and keep looking ahead to next season.

Which reminds me...

Remember to keep supporting Rubber Hockey!

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

Looking forward to hearing from you! APRIL 2023

March IHAAZ events adding to competition with State Finals looming

With so many teams looking to compete in the 2023 IHAAZ season, the association split its March and April events into two weekend combo events each month.

In March, the season continued over the March 10-12 weekend in Peoria for the fourth tournament of the season and then March 12-19 in Queen Creek at the Barney Family Sports Complex for tournament No. 5.

Five champions were crowned at the Barney Family Sports Complex as the AZ Outlaws Maroon won at 8U, Arizona Jr. Wildcats won 10U, Tour YVU Blue at 12U, TPH Knighthawks Green at 14U Gold and the Serial Grillers brought home the 18U Gold title.

“We’re at the point in our season where the majority of our teams are able to participate for the most part now,” IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky said. “With those team counts, we were able to have a true split between our two skill levels (Gold and Silver) in the 14U and 18U divisions. This gives those teams a more level playing field, which equates to a lot more fun and competition. Having the Tour YVU teams from Colorado, and Hawaii in a few divisions, created some new matchups and excitement in the younger age groups as well. With coaches Jami and CJ Yoder at the helm, we knew we’d get some great competition in the Tour YVU teams.

“Specific to the 14U Gold final, the round robin games between both TPH Knighthawks Green and Blue and Black Magic were some of the best games of the season so far, but the championship game between the Knighthawks Green and Black Magic was one to remember. Going to OT just seemed fitting for how both teams were fighting to win.”


The Outlaws took an 8-3 win over Tour YVU in the title game as Kasen Pusateri collected four goals and two assists.

Wyatt Frankenfield and Kellen Pusateri posted two goals apiece, and Elias Beard picked up the win in


For Tour YVU, Leathan Pahnke had a goal and an assist, Finley Yoder and Azrael Weiss scored, and Nolan Rodriguez made 12 saves between the pipes.

In the round robin, Kasen Pusateri had 13 goals and six assists for 19 points. Beard secured four wins and tied with Rodriguez with a 1.00 goals-against average. Rodriguez pitched two shutouts and finished with a .902 save percentage.


Connor Hillegonds went off for four goals and assist in the title game as the the Jr. Wildcats downed the Outlaws 8-5.

Ben Van Houten and Gia Alvarez each collected two goals and an assist and Ryland Scott shined in net with 16 saves.

Kasen Pusateri scored twice and added two helpers for the Outlaws, while Drake Madia, Crosby Thomas and Easton Marquardt all netted one goal each. Theo Brooks stopped 21 shots in goal.

During the round robin, Van Houten led the way with 11 goals and 13 points, while Mason Hillegonds chipped in five assists. In goal, Scott had four wins and a 3.25 GAA, while the TPH Knighthawks’ Owen Lukas posted a .719 save percentage. Rodriguez, Lukas and Scott each registered a shutout.


The championship was a battle of Tour YVU teams as Tour YVU Blue knocked off Tour YVU Grey 6-1.

Matthew Bliven scored two goals and added two assists in the win, Tayvn Yoder had two goals with a helper, and Bishop Weiss went for a goal and two assists. Zeph Sa-

guibo also scored to help back Noah Sieberlich‘s 13 saves in goal.

For Tour YVU Grey, Leo Varrone scored, and Jacob Nowak turned aside eight shots in the crease.

In round robin action, Bishop Weiss had 10 goals, Alvarez seven assists, and Tavyn Yoder 12 points. Between the pipes, Sieberlich had three wins (tied with Nowak), a 1.00 GAA, .850 save percentage and a pair of shutouts.

14U Gold

Joey Lepore‘s third goal of the game won it in overtime for the Knighthawks, 6-5, after the Black Magic’s Ashton Sherstobitoff tied the game 5-all with 1:28 left in the second period. Lepore also had an assist for a four-point game, Brayden Willis scored twice, Landon Jans had a goal plus a helper, and Jaden Perea notched two assists. In goal, Maddox Marshal made 18 stops.

The Black Magic were led by Braden Hordichuk‘s three-goal, oneassist outing, Sherstobitoff had a goal and an assist and Dylan Mickelson also scored. Dylan Hansen and Everett Payie combined on a 13-save effort in goal.

During the round robin, Willis had 11 goals and 15 points and Sherstobitoff rang up five assists. Goalie-wise, Payie had an 0.50 GAA, a .917 save percentage and one shutout, along with Hansen and Lennon Mikan from the TPH Knighthawks Blue team. Marshal collected three wins.

18U Gold

Carson Kamin and Eli Shulman each scored twice to pace the Grillers past the Peoria Desert Scorpions 5-3. Dominik Barber also scored, and

Nathan Graybill kicked out 13 shots between the pipes.

For the Desert Scorpions, Ethan Niles, Sheldon Wilson and Luke Parker tallied goals and in net, Aiden Biswanger finished with 19 saves.

In the round robin, Kamin and Shulman notched six goals, while Shulman had six assists and 12 points. Biswanger and Graybill each had three wins and a shutout, while Biswanger added a 1.26 GAA and a .904 save percentage.

The previous weekend, March 1012, three champions were crowned at the Peoria Sportsplex as the Jr. Wildcats took the 10U championship, Arizona Imperials won at 14U Silver, and the Outlaws captured the 18U Silver title.

“Having the divisional split into Silver-specific divisions for 14U and 18U really improved the parity of play, with every team being in the hunt for a medal,” said Boyarsky. “In 10U, we’re really starting to see the Knighthawks find ways to chip away at the dominant Jr. Wildcats team. I’d bet by State Finals that these two teams will be in a tight dogfight for that state championship title.”


Connor Hillegonds scored four goals with an assist to lead the Jr. Wildcats past the TPH Knighthawks 7-3.

Van Houten added two goals and two assists and Connor Martell scored to back Scott’s 10 saves in goal.

For the Knighthawks, Carter Hardison had two goals and an assist, Dominic Payne tallied once, and Lukas stopped 14 shots between the pipes.

In the round robin, Alvarez had six assists and 15 points and Marquardt popped 11 goals. Scott and Lukas each posted two shutouts, while Scott also compiled four wins, a 0.75 GAA and a .897 save percentage.

14U Silver

Reagan Rivera pitched a nine-save shutout and Corbin Hubert had a goal and three assists to lead the Imperials past the AZ Roughriders 7-0.

Trevin Vargo scored three times,

Continued on Page 13 APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Two goals in 15 seconds lift Hawks to 16U Tier II 3A national championship glory

Fifteen seconds.

That is what decided the 3A crown for the 2023 USA-Chipotle USA Hockey Youth Tier II 16U National Championships April 3 in Williamsville, N.Y., at the Northtown Center.

The Littleton Hawks scored twice within 15 seconds early in the third, and then for good measure, added another goal 39 seconds later en route to a 4-2 victory over the Woodbridge Wolfpack.

Littleton coach Cole Fletcher explained what led to the outburst.

“In between the period we said, ‘Do we want it, and who’s going to do it?’ and they all said, ‘We will.’” Fletcher said. “And they did everything we asked of them.”

With the score tied 1-1 heading into the third, the outburst began because of the simple hockey adage — drive the net. Jack Hannock did just that, driving wide, shooting the puck on net, and Tyler Vaughn buried the rebound.

When something is successful, do it again 15 seconds later. This time,

Zachary Palik drove wide, got the puck on net, and Hannock was the one to bury the rebound to make it a 3-1 game at 1:40 into the final period.

But Littleton didn’t stop there. At 2:19, the Hawks made it 4-1 when Bennett Engle’s pass across the net was put in by Bodie Tillman.

“I did not expect [that explosion],” Littleton forward Carson Petz said. “I know what we’re capable of. I know we can do that kind of stuff. We caught them at a weak point and put three up. That was a huge period.”

Woodbridge took the initial lead at 2:54 of the opening period when Daltry Ferrigno scored from the left slot area.

That lead held up till 6:35 of the middle period when Max Neumayr tied it up for the Hawks.

After the outburst in the third period, the Wolfpack did not give up. They took advantage of a power play to cut the lead to 4-2 at 5:13 of the third. Christian Adamski’s wrister from the top of the right circle gave Woodbridge hope.

However, a breakaway and some point-blank shots were all stopped by Chamberlain Nocera, who made 23 saves to get the win.

“It was a very competitive game up and down,” Woodbridge coach Robert Cherella said. “We had our chances. Got it within two and just couldn’t bury our chances. Hats off to that team right there. They skated hard. They wanted it.”

Littleton won all six games in the tournament, including a 3-2 overtime contest against the Chicago Bulldogs in the quarterfinals and another 3-2 win against the Boston Jr. Eagles in the semifinals.

“Our boys came out and did everything they needed to do,” Fletcher said. “We were definitely nervous about how we were going to show up today. They just all came together as 20 individuals. It was phenomenal.”

This group of Hawks’ players is used to playing at nationals, but Petz said it felt great to finally return home with a banner.

“This is our fourth time at nattys,” he said. “Really glad to get the win. Never have done it before. To come out on top is crazy.”

Home crowd in Littleton boosts Hawks to 14U Tier II 3A national championship in overtime thriller

Each time the Littleton Hawks lit the lamp April 3 against the Cheektowaga Warriors, the walls inside the Edge Ice Arena rattled.

It took until deep into the overtime period at the 2023 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships, but the Hawks harnessed that home-ice energy to secure a 4-3 victory to win the 3A title.

A mad scramble in front of the net saw Colton Lien connect with the loose puck, hammering it home to kick off the celebration and complete his hat trick.

“Winning in front of the home crowd and getting lucky enough to host nationals here, it’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Lien

said. “I don’t have words for it. It’s really hard to describe.”

It was the Warriors who got on the board first, with Cole Miller scoring on a power play at 6:27 remaining in the opening period.

Miller buried another goal during the first minute of the second period, this one at even strength, to put the Hawks in a 2-0 hole.

Littleton threw a counterpunch quickly. Going on a power play just one minute after the two-goal deficit, Lien peppered the Warriors’ defense and scored unassisted.

Ten minutes later, Lien netted his second goal when he was set up by Connor Makowski.

Tied at 2-2, the energy in the Hawks’ barn intensified, reaching a

Continued on Page 14 APRIL 2023
The Littleton Hawks celebrate their 16U Tier II 3A national championship April 3 in Williamsville, N.Y. Photo/James Hibbard/USA Hockey On home ice at the Edge Ice Arena, the Littleton Hawks captured the 14U Tier II 3A national title on April 3. Photo/Baylor Hunstad APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

From the Trainer’s Room

Preventing groin injuries in hockey

A successful hockey season filled with wins, goals, assists and enjoyment can be easily derailed with a groin strain.

The groin musculature or adductor group is located on the inside of the thigh and brings the thigh back into the midline of the body. This is an important group of muscles during skating as they elongate, allowing the player to obtain a full stride and contract quickly to recover and bring the skate back beneath the hips to prepare for another powerful stride.

If the muscle group is tight, it can limit full extension of the stride, slowing the athlete down. It also leaves the muscles more susceptible to injury as they may get over stretched or torn as the athlete tries to obtain a full stride. In the case of the adductors being too weak, they can be injured by the repetitive force needed to return the leg to its starting point after the stride is completed.

lature will help obtain proper flexibility. There are many ways to implement a groin strengthening program, but I would suggest starting with something as simple as squeezing a Pilates ring or squeeze ball while lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Perform three sets or 15-25 reps two to three times per week.

Groin injuries will occur in hockey, but taking the simple steps of improving flexibility and strength can aid in the prevention.

5 reasons adults should exercise

Let’s chat about exercising as an adult.

It’s not just about losing weight or changing how you look. That may be one of the many benefits, but let’s break down five top reasons why adults should exercise or include fitness in their daily lives.

Prevention of daily aches/pains in the body

Chris Phillips

In order to prevent groin injuries, it is imperative to obtain and maintain good flexibility and strength. Numerous studies in the NHL have shown that a quality groin injury prevention program will decrease the incidence of these injuries.

So how do you get started?

Implementing a foam roll and stretching program that targets the groins, hip flexors and gluteal muscu-

As we age, our body naturally loses muscle and strength. To add to the deficit, most of us are doing desk jobs that require sitting for more than 6 hours a day. This leads to our joints becoming very stiff/immobilized resulting in the body sending pain signals to us every time we move. Think of pain as the body saying what you’re doing ain’t working. By working out you keep your joints moving and muscles active, preventing stiffness. Fixes posture

Do you slouch when you sit, or maybe have slouched shoulders when you stand? Bad posture not only looks bad, but it’s also very painful to your body. When your head is too far forward (possibly from sitting in front of the computer too long, or “text neck”) you put additional weight stress on your neck having to hold your head. This causes your upper back muscles, spinal column, and hips to have to adjust based on the stress you do from your posture. When you work out, you are training the body to stay upright, your back muscles support your neck, and your head stays in the correct position.

Promotes weight loss

When you exercise you are using both your muscles and heart, which requires energy. Fat is stored energy in the body, and when you exercise more you are choosing to potentially use up the fat stored in your body as an energy source. Doing more exercise means using up energy, resulting in potential fat/weight loss.

Strengthens the heart muscles

Your heart has muscle too! The heart muscles are known as cardiac muscles. The heart is responsible for pumping blood through the body. As you get better at exercise your body is improving at pumping blood as well, due to the strengthening of the cardiac muscle. The more you exercise, the stronger the heart becomes!

Promotes better sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important health components for the body. When we exercise our body’s temperature rises. Once you finish, the body enters a state of recovery decreasing the temperature. The ultimate form of recovery is sleeping. Proper recovery promotes muscle gain, fat loss, and an overall sense of well-being. Also, exercise has been shown to improve the quality of sleep by lessening anxietydriven thoughts.

At our facility, Compete Sports Performance and Rehab, we offer APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Continued on Page APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Exercising has multitude of benefts for adults

a variety of services but one of our most popular is our adult fitness classes. Do you live local to Orange County? Come join us! Contact us today for available dates and times for you to come exercise with us!

Off-ice training for goalies

Off-ice training plays a vital role in the development of hockey players. USA Hockey follows the Long Term Athletic Development principles as the basis of their program. These principles will assist in creating a more consistent training regimen. Today’s training programs should not be based on how hard the program is, but by what goals are in mind and how are you progressing. When training for a sport, the program should be devised with the following in mind:

• Is the program age-specific?

• Is the program based on meeting the demands of the sport which the athlete plays?

• Are proper techniques and mechanics being taught?

• Does the program include fundamental movements that progress to more complex ones?

• Does the program address injury prevention exercises that relate to the sport?

Now that we have covered some of the basics, here’s where it gets tricky. Should a goalie train like a skater? They both play the same game, so can we train them the same off the ice? Let’s look at the movements each player will go through during a game. A forward predominantly skates forwards, weaving and turning as they skate up the ice. A defenseman will skate backwards more than the forwards during a game. Both will utilize a crossover step while turning as well. There is one main component that is similar with skaters — they mainly skate north and south in a linear pattern.

Now, let’s look at how a goalie moves. Their movement is more lateral in fashion, moving from post to post, not to mention dropping into a butterfly and getting back up on their skates quickly. It’s pretty obvi

ous that the demands on a goalie are pretty different than a skater during a game. So if the demands are different, shouldn’t the training program be different? That’s not to say that there will not be a lot of crossover in the training program, but that there are certain aspects that need to be addressed. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Many teams train together and it can be difficult for the strength coach to modify the program for the goalies, but it should be noted and modified as much as possible.

Now that we have deciphered that the demands on a goalie are different than a skater and that their programs should also be different, what should be the focus of the program?

The program needs keep in mind the age and level of the athlete. Exercises that are good for one goalie may be too complex for another. Always begin simple, then as the athlete masters the exercise, make it more difficult. Adding resistance, placing the athlete on an unstable surface or making the movement more complex are all good examples of how to make the training more difficult.

Below are some of the basic principles that should be included in a goalie dryland program:

• Agility exercises that focus on lateral movement

• Plyometric exercises that focus on lateral movement

• Single leg and hip strengthening exercises

• Core stability

• Shoulder strengthening and stability exercises

• Hand-eye coordination

There is an unlimited amount of exercises that can be used with goalies that will improve performance on the ice. Using the principles previously mentioned, here are some key exercises that can be implemented into your goalie training program.

• Lateral lunges

• Lateral bounds

• Resisted shuffles

• Mini band exercises for hip strength

• Rear foot elevated split squats

• Medicine ball Russian twists

• Dumbbell forward, diagonal and lateral shoulder raises

• Dumbbell rows

• Alternate ball toss with partner

Continued from Page 8 Continued on

The way you train off the ice directly impacts the way you perform on the ice. Take a step by step approach with long term athletic development in mind. Have goals in mind with proper technique and progression as the basis of your program to maximize performance and limit injuries.

Chris Phillips is the owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County, Calif. Chris was an athletic trainer in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Washington Capitals and was the athletic trainer for the Czech Republic Figure Skating Team at the 2022 Winter Olympics. He can be reached at

Improving your speed

The time for offseason hockey training is upon us.

At this point of the year, the focus should shift to how we can improve and make gains for next season. Almost every hockey player I work with wants to get stronger and get faster.

Following a proper training plan designed by a professional coach can help you achieve both of these goals.

As the current season ends, players should limit their time on the ice and focus on a corrective exercise program to address last season’s injuries, as well as mobility work and taking a mental break from the game. The next phase would be to start building a good strength foundation and cardiovascular efficiency. The intensity of the workouts will increase as you get closer to the opening of next season. Speed, agility, and quickness (SAQ) drills in a dryland setting will be used in conjunction with the weight lifting program and on-ice practice.

Today’s article will touch upon the speed aspect of your training.

“But coach, I hate running!” I get it. But the science is clear in that good running mechanics can increase speed and translate to faster skating. I know, skating is not running. I get that, too. What proper running mechanics can do is teach the hockey player how to produce force into the ice, thereby increasing the power of their stride. We then can work on the stride frequency within a given distance. Increased force plus the increased frequency equals increased speed. APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
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Learn how to improve your speed during the hockey offseason

Continued from Page 10

So what drills do I do to get faster? Well, it takes more than countless hours of ladder drills in the parking lot. There is a difference between “fast feet” and moving the rest of the body across the playing surface. The game of hockey involves a lot of accelerations, changes of direction, and decelerations over short distances. Real speed training addresses each of these in a fashion directly related to the game of hockey. Typical drills should

generally only cover a distance of 10-15 yards. These drills should be done at a maximum effort with plenty of rest to recover so each rep is executed properly. The volume is low, but the intensity is high and should only last around 20 minutes of the training session. I like to practice these drills early in the training session to reduce the risk of injury due to fatigue.

Players need to understand that they need to build a foundation of strength first, then continue to build upon that foundation. Proper

weight training with an emphasis on single leg strength and core stability will help. There should also be conditioning elements to help repeat maximal efforts with proper efficiency. Drills such at the 5-10-5 Pro Agility can be used to measure and test speed improvements over the course of the program.

Lastly, ensure that the program as a whole is age-appropriate under the scheme of long-term athletic development. There’s no point trying to introduce skills that the athlete may not yet have the capacity to utilize. Target proper skills at the proper time in the training windows.

Mike Hannegan is an athletic trainer and strength coach with 10 years of experience in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. He is currently the director of the Compete Sports Performance

and Rehabilitation facility inside The Rinks-Yorba Linda Ice located in beautiful Orange County, Calif. He can be reached by email at

With spring officially here, the Arizona Hockey Union still has ONE more tournament left on the schedule for the rest of the 2022-23 season! APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Mike Hannegan Colorado College’s Chad Sasaki is a Compete client. Photo/Casey B. Gibson

Bobcats overcome tight second period for 18U Tier II 2A national championship

Those watching didn’t have to wait long for goals in the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 18U National Championships 2A title game on April 3 in Maple Grove, Minn., at Kottemann Arena inside the Maple Grove Community Center.

Cameron Cote of the Arizona Bobcats found the back of the net not once but twice within in the first four minutes of the game. From there, the Bobcats were able to hold their lead despite a strong fight from the Nashville Jr. Predators to secure the title with a 5–2 win.

The Bobcats were coming off a national title last year in the 18U 3A division, and the core of returning players were motivated for more, Arizona coach Brent Gough said.

“At the end of the day, you want to win a national championship,” Gough said. “Last year, we got that opportunity winning the 3A division in Anaheim and we had about seven returning players from that team. So they knew what it took to win.

“Those guys were a driving force this time too. They really got this team in the right direction.”

This year’s tournament didn’t start the way the Bobcats would’ve liked. They opened play on March 30 with a tight 4–3 loss to the Montgomery Ice Devils of Maryland. However,

second period to send the game into the second intermission 3-2.

The tight score only turned up the intensity between the two teams. This led to a flurry of penalties, especially in the third period as Nashville tried to mount a comeback. A game misconduct penalty on a Nashville player with 1:14 to go pushed emotions on both teams to a boiling point. The Bobcats players tried to keep cool heads with only seconds until the final buzzer.

“We kept our hands down, kept our heads on straight,” Cote said. “We didn’t take any retaliation penalties or force a power play.

kept up the pressure and had a good rush all game long.”

For the second straight year, the Arizona Bobcats are 18U Tier II national champions. Photo/Michael Carmo, Sr./USA Hockey leaning on their experience, the Bobcats were able to right the ship quickly as they battled through a series of close games to earn a spot in the title game.

Until the championship, Arizona had played in just one game that was decided by more than one goal.

Nashville took a similarly unwavering path to the title game. The Jr. Predators won their first five games, including four of them by a single goal, before meeting Arizona.

The Bobcats set the tone early.

“The first shift, we had really good puck movement,” Cote said. “We ended up scoring, and that just set the bar really high for (Nashville). We

Jason Hammett came up big throughout the title game for Arizona. After assisting on both of Cote’s early goals, he got another helper on Ryan Jim’s second-period goal that made the score 3-1. Then Hammett sealed it with a power-play goal with 40 seconds remaining.

Hammett ended the tournament with six goals and 11 points, both of which led the team.

The Jr. Predators didn’t go down without a fight, though. Justin Dickinson cut the score to 2-1 in the first period, and Kyle Barbarite got another one back shorthanded in the

“(Nashville) was a great team. They have nothing but respect for us so we can’t do anything but give that back to them.”

For Arizona, the second consecutive national title capped off a year of hard work and growth.

“Every game you’ve got to get better,” Gough said. “At the beginning of the year, you can be a great team but if you don’t get better, everyone else is climbing that ladder as well and they’ll eventually catch you.

“That’s exactly what these kids did. You know, September and October, those can be long months. But give credit to (the players), they come to practice every day and come hard in games. Now, we get to cap it off with a national championship.”

Aspen native, Colorado College goalie Mbereko chosen NCHC Rookie of the Month

The NCHC has announced that Colorado College freshman goaltender Kaidan Mbereko is the NCHC Rookie of the Month.

Mbereko completed his freshman campaign strong, backstopping Colorado College to a playoff upset on the road and the Frozen Faceoff championship game. He posted a 3-1-0 record in five starts in March, including a career-best three-game winning streak, while leading the NCHC with both a .942 save percentage and a 1.57 GAA in the month. Mbereko

compiled 114 saves in March with one shutout.

The Aspen native started his postseason run with 25 saves in a 3-1 win at No. 7 Western Michigan to open the NCHC quarterfinals on March 10. A night later, he made 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime win at WMU to give CC its first road playoff sweep in program history. Mbereko then finished his season with back-to-back 23-save outings at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. In the semifinals on March 17, he blanked rival and No. 3 Denver for

CC’s first win over DU in 12 tries, a 1 -0 victory. In the championship game a night later against No. 7 St. Cloud State, the Tigers run came to an end with a 3-0 defeat.

Mbereko finished his freshman season with a 9-16-2 record in 30 games, while leading the NCHC and ranking fifth nationally with a .925 save percentage. He posted a 2.30 GAA on the year, while his four shutouts this season tied for the NCHC lead. Mbereko was also named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team and Second-

Team All-NCHC this season. During his youth hockey days in Colorado, Mbereko played for the Aspen Leafs and Rocky Mountain Snow Kings. APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Kaidan Mbereko had a solid season with CC. Photo/Casey B. Gibson

IHAAZ season rolling along

Continued from Page 5

AJ Brandt added a goal and an assist, and Camden Eyer and Moses Brown scored one each.

Jonovan Wachter made 15 saves in net for the Roughriders.

During round robin action, the Juicers’ Tripp Neujahr had six goals, Hubert had five assists and was tied with the Imperials’ Dean Mindeman with seven points. Rivera earned three wins, had a 1.69 GAA and a .848 save percentage, while Wachter, the Juicers’ Mason Smith and the Jr. Wildcats’ London Simpson all pitched a shutout.

18U Silver

Zayne Maragh scored seven times to lift the Outlaws over the Cereal Killers 9-3.

Ryan Nicholas added a goal and two assists and Mason Knaffla chipped in a goal as goaltender

Keegan Tinsdale made nine saves.

For the Killers, Austin McPherson had a goal and an assist, Caden Shafer and Nick Wolf scored, and Connor Blondel stopped 10 shots between the pipes.

Round robin play saw Daniel Madia of the Outlaws score nine goals with five assists for 14 points. The

AZ Konnix Desert Swarm’s Jonathan Pool had three wins, along with Blondel and Tinsdale, and added a 1.50 GAA and a .872 save percentage to go along with one shutout. The Roughriders’ Gavin Lopo also pitched a shutout.

The next IHAAZ event is scheduled for April 14-16 back at the Barney Family Sports Complex with another one the following weekend, April 21-23, at the Peoria Sportsplex.

“We’ve got another two packed weekends in April with even more new teams jumping in to attempt to qualify for State Finals,” Boyarsky said. “It’s possible some divisions sell out due to available floor time. Any new teams considering jumping in should do so before the entry deadline to make sure they get in.”

For more info, visit

Denver-based Rocky Mountain Hockey Federation kicks off with six founding member clubs

The date March 10, 2023 marked the formal announcement of the Rocky Mountain Hockey Federation (RMHF) as a youth hockey league with headquarters in Denver.

Joining the RMHF will be its founding members to include Arapahoe Youth Hockey, Arvada Hockey Association, Colorado Rampage, Hyland Hills Hockey Association, Littleton Hockey Association and Northern Colorado Youth Hockey.

In addition to these six youth hockey associations from Colorado, the RMHF has established affiliate relationships with youth hockey associations from the greater Rocky Mountain and West regions to include clubs from Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska,

Utah, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

These youth hockey associations across these eight states will compete in a federated league with a combination of in-state scheduled games and outof-state league weekends that will all lead to a league championship hosted in Colorado.

The RMHF will offer AA-, A- (two divisions) and B-level youth hockey across the age groups of 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U that will begin play in August 2023.

The RMHF member associations as will be registered members of USA Hockey and their respective state affiliations.

For more information, visit www. RockyMountainHockeyFederation. com. APRIL 2023

LHA uses home-ice advantage to secure 14U Tier II 3A national title at Edge Ice Arena

Continued from Page 6

fever pitch when Makowski tallied a goal of his own with 8:26 to go to give Littleton its first lead.

For the final five minutes, the Warriors dominated possession in their offensive zone, eventually breaking through on Joseph Aiello’s scrappy rebound with 47 seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime.

The Hawks had the extra gear in overtime, consistently winning battles for loose pucks and maintaining more possession on the offensive end.

Lien credited sustained success to the forecheck.

“We changed our forecheck about 10 minutes into the first period and right after that, the whole attitude changed,” Gour said. “I remember saying, ‘OK, we’re ready to go now, boys,’ because we really started getting all over them.

“At the end of the day, that was the best thing for us because the other team was exhausted.”

The Hawks are yet another champion for the self-anointed Hockey Capital, USA, in Denver.

Last year, the Colorado Avalanche,

the University of Denver, Denver East High School and the Pee-Wee Jr. Avs all secured national championships at their respective levels, kicking off a combined hockey celebration in the city.

That celebration continued today, as the Littleton Hawks won the 3A titles in the 14U and 16U Tier II tournaments.

Goeb said hockey has always been strong in the Denver suburbs, particularly those south and west of the city. But the coach hopes that this championship will further spur growth for the sport for local kids.

“It’s a dream come true. We’ve been pushing it hard after (Sunday’s) late OT win,” Gour said, referencing the Hawks’ 4-3 win over the Ashburn Xtreme. “Late OT-winner in that one and again today. It’s a surreal feeling and there’s nothing but smiles.”

“It’s even more special because our 16U team brought it home in New York, and the 18s had a great showing as well,” Gour said. “All of the Hawks organization had a great showing this year. We just want to continue to grow and continue down this path that we’re on.” APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Littleton coach Justin Gour and

Jr. Golden Knights win 14U Tier II 2A national title in shootout

A slowly simmering start evolved into a rolling boil April 3 at the 2023 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships at Edge Ice Arena in Littleton, Colo., as the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights ultimately came away with a 2-1 shootout victory over Valley Thunder in the 2A championship game.

The Jr. Golden Knights struck first, when a rebound off a long shot was put home by Rodrick Reynolds III with 6:25 to go in the second period.

It took most of the remaining time in regulation for the Thunder to equalize, but Tavian Mukaabya was able to convert on a top-shelf shot with 4:09 to go in regulation.

By the time the overtime period came and went, and the shootout went five skaters deep, it was Vegas goalie Vincent Vitale who metaphorically blew the roof off the arena.

After turning away 27 shots in regulation and overtime, Vitale made three consecutive saves during the shootout to kick off celebrations for the Golden Knights following the 2-1 victory.

“We played hard the whole tournament and teams kept getting better and better,” Vitale said. “Overtime, we were all pretty tired but, you know, we won and I couldn’t be happier.”

Although the first period was scoreless, each team had reason for optimism. Vegas possessed more in its attacking third, including a nearly three-minute stretch early in proceedings.

Valley had more shots, including a wrister with 8:45 left in the frame that Vitale had to go full-stretch to push the puck wide.

Less than a minute later, the Knights had a long-and-low shot from the blue line that slipped through a maze of skates and the goalie, clanking off the left post as it scuttled away from the frame.

It was another blue line chance that eventually broke the scoreless tie with 6:25 to go in the second. Liam Butsavich fired a shot from deep in the zone and the puck went tumbling

goalie. Reynolds III got his stick into the scramble and stuffed the puck home.

It was arguably the second-best chance of the period, with the largest opportunity coming a few minutes earlier when Vitale left the crease for a clear attempt.

When the clear clipped a Valley player’s stick and landed at the skates of another opponent, the ensuing ricocheted of Vitale’s mask as he stood at least 15 feet from the crease and tumbled over the frame, leading to a scrum behind the cage.

The only mark on Vitale’s stat sheet was the late equalizer, which Mukaabya tucked into the top-left corner after the puck clipped the goalie’s shoulder. Immediately afterwards, several Golden Knights skaters picked up their netminder with words of encouragement and Vitale anchored the team through the remaining regulation, overtime period and shootout.

“His mental toughness is one of the reasons he has a letter on his chest,” Golden Knights coach Dustin Coldren said, referencing Vitale’s alternate captain patch. “He’s just an unbelievable player and great, great kid. He’s incredibly tough and he was probably our best player of the whole tournament.”

There was extra pressure on Vitale’s shoulders, too, as the backup

goalie didn’t travel with the team. Per USA Hockey rules, the Golden Knights needed a backup goalie, which the local Littleton Hawks provided in Henry Snow.

After the game, Vegas chanted the name of their emergency backup.

“This is exactly what we’ve worked all season for,” Coldren said. “It probably wasn’t our best game and Alaska gave us everything we could handle. A little bittersweet that it had to come down to a shootout, but I’m just so proud of the boys.” APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
The Vegas Jr. Golden Knights claimed the 14U Tier II 2A national championship earlier this month with a shootout victory in the championship game in Colorado. Photo/Baylor Hunstad/USA Hockey over the Valley

Jr. Coyotes alum, Phoenix native Knies wraps season at Minnesota,

signs NHL deal with Maple Leafs

Minnesota sophomore forward Matthew Knies signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs on April 9 and will forego his final two years of college eligibility.

Knies will join Toronto immediately.

Knies was a second-round pick (57th overall) of the Maple Leafs in the 2021 NHL Draft and was a Hobey Baker Memorial Award Hat Trick finalist and Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in 2022-23, recording 42 points on 21 goals and 21 assists, including an NCAA-best seven game-winning goals.

The Phoenix native was named to the All-Big Ten First Team as a sophomore after landing on the second team in his freshman season. He recorded 12 multi-point games with four three-point efforts for the Gophers in 2022-23.

Knies averaged more than a point per game in his two-year Minnesota career, totaling 75 points (36 goals, 39 assists) over 73 games on the ice.

He tallied 33 points as a freshman and was a dominant force late in the year when he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Worcester Regional and earned a spot on the NCAA Northeast Regional All-Tournament Team.

He was part of the most prolific line in college hockey during the 2022-23 campaign with Logan Cooley (an Arizona Coyotes prospect) and Jimmy Snuggerud as the trio combined for 152 points. The entire line was held off the scoresheet in just five games played this season, but only three times over the final four months of the campaign.

Back home in Arizona, Knies developed his game with the Jr. Coyotes. APRIL 2023
Sign up for summer tournaments at!
Matthew Knies celebrates a goal this season. Photo/Matt Krohn

Thunderbirds standout, Denver native Pusateri nets NAHL opportunity with Odessa tender

Remy Pusateri had a successful season in 2022-23 with the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 18U AAA team and has parlayed that into a chance to play junior hockey.

Recently, the Denver native signed an NAHL tender with the Odessa Jackalopes, a team located in Texas that plays in the South Division.

“The opportunity with Odessa came up after the scout for Odessa watched me for multiple games,” Pusateri said. “We also had a few talks about my goals in life and he thought it would be best if I signed so soon as possible. I am extremely excited to leave home and play for such a great team. I’m going to miss all my players and coaches on my 18U team, though.

“The NA is a great place to be seen and be able to move to the next


In addition to the Thunderbirds, Pusateri also spent time growing up with the Colorado Evolution and the Krivo School of Hockey Elite.

“I have played with the Thunderbirds since my 12U year,” said Pusateri. “The best coach I have had in my years has to be Philip Patenaude. He was my coach at 14U and my 18U coach, and he really gave me a chance to show myself.”

Moving forward, Pusateri has reachable goals in mind, both on and off the ice.

“My short-term goals include getting valuable playing time with Odessa as well as finishing high school with a 4.0 GPA or higher,” Pusateri said. “My long-term goals include playing high-level NCAA Division I hockey and getting accepted into a great school to continue my academics.”

APRIL 2023
Remy Puateri utilized his strong 2022-23 season with the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 18U AAA team into a shot to play in the NAHL. Photo/Pusateri Family

San Jose native, Jr. Sharks alum McKown signs NHL deal with Blue Jackets

Colorado College junior forward Hunter McKown has agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, beginning this season.

McKown will forego his senior season with the Tigers in inking the contract.

“I am so proud of Hunter and all he has been able to accomplish as a Tiger,” said Colorado College coach Kris Mayotte. “He has worked incredibly hard to become one of the best players in college hockey. His growth not only as a player but as a leader and as a person has been fun to be a part of. Our staff has enjoyed coaching him every day. We are thankful to his commitment of living ‘TIGER,’ and helping this program

take big steps forward.

“I can’t wait to watch him as a pro help Columbus in the near future.”

McKown, who was not drafted by an NHL team and signs with Columbus as a free agent, led the Tigers this season with career highs of 21 goals and 28 points.

He ended up leading the nation with 14 power-play goals, the most by a Colorado College player in one season since Los Angeles native Brett Sterling had 17 on the man-advantage in 2005-06.

The San Jose native and Jr. Sharks product, who also led the team this year with 140 shots, recorded 55 points (36 goals, 19 assists) and seven game-winning goals in 96 career games at CC.

A 2023 honorable mention allNCHC selection, McKown assumed a leadership role on the team this season, serving as an alternate captain.

Last summer, he joined Mayotte and teammate Kaidan Mbereko on the U.S. National Junior Team that competed at the 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton, Alberta.

“I am excited to be joining the Columbus Blue Jackets,” McKown said. “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity given to me by Colorado College. I can’t thank my coaches and teammates enough for helping me get to this point.”

McKown joined the Blue Jackets for the end of the NHL’s regular season, playing in 11 games with two assists.

Jr. Kings alum, Rolling Hills native Fleece inks USHL tender with Fargo for ’23-24 season

The Fargo Force have announced that the club has signed forward Masun Fleece to a USHL tender for the 2023-24 season.

A native of Rolling Hills, Fleece has prepped at Shattuck St. Mary’s school in Faribault, Minn., the past two seasons. In the 2021-22 season, he led the SSM 14U team in scoring with 45 goals and 61 assists for 106 points in 51 games. This year as a 15-year-old, he played at the 16U level, and finished fifth on the team with 68 points on 29 goals and 39 assists in 53 games.

“We are extremely excited to have Masun sign with us,” said Fargo GM

Cary Eades. “He is a player who we have monitored his development very closely in the past 12 months as our coaching and scouting staff has seen him play live and on video a number of times. His work ethic, speed and tenacity, as well as his reputation of being a great teammate sets him apart from others as we went through the tender process. Additionally, players coming out of Shattuck are extremely well prepared, on and off the ice, and have had tremendous success as they move up the hockey ladder.”

“Our coaching staff, led by head coach Nick Oliver, has done an outstanding job of developing and

mentoring young players in our organization this season. Our top rookie, Mac Swanson, has been in the top 20 in league scoring all season as a 16-year-old. Masun is a different style of player than Mac, however, but we feel his maturity, skill set and determination will allow him to be a contributor to our team next season, even though he’ll be one of, if not the youngest player on our team. We are excited to welcome Masun and the Fleece family to the Force hockey family.”

Back home, Fleece also spent time playing youth hockey with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.

Phoenix native, Jr. Coyotes, AHU alum Castor takes home monthly NCHC, HCA accolades

St. Cloud State senior Jaxon Castor has been named the NCHC Goaltender of the Month and the Hockey Commissioners Association CoGoaltender of the Month.

Castor took his game to another level in March, backstopping St. Cloud State to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship and an NCAA Regional Final. In his six starts last month, he posted a 4-2-0 record, while compiling a 1.67 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage, both of which ranked second in the NCHC in March. Castor racked up 147 saves this month, which were the

most in the NCHC, while he was the only NCHC goalie with two shutouts in March.

Castor earned both Frozen Faceoff All-Tournament Team and NCAA Fargo Regional All-Tournament Team honors for his postseason efforts. He opened his postseason with a 26-save performance in Game 3 of the NCHC quarterfinals on March 12 against Minnesota Duluth, giving up only one goal in a 3-1 win that advanced SCSU to the Frozen Faceoff.

At Xcel Energy Center, Castor allowed two goals total, making 23 saves in an overtime win against North Dakota in the semifinals on March 17, before blanking Colorado College in the Frozen Faceoff championship with a 17-save showing. He recorded a second straight whitewash in the Fargo Regional semifinals, making 34 saves in a 4-0 win over No. 10 Minnesota State. Castor closed March with 26 stops and three goals allowed in a NCAA

Tournament regional final loss to No. 1 Minnesota.

Castor finished the season with a 14-8-1 record, while compiling a 2.02 GAA and a .924 save percentage with four shutouts. His 2.02 GAA was the second-best mark in a single season in SCSU program history, while his four shutouts rank third alltime at SCSU and his save percentage fifth. Nationally, Castor ranks fifth this season in GAA and eighth with his .924 save percentage.

Back home, the Phoenix native played for the Jr. Coyotes and Arizona Hockey Union. APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Hunter McKown handles the puck for CC. Photo/Casey B. Gibson Castor Masun Fleece was an impact player for Shattuck-St. Mary’s the past few seasons. Photo/SSM APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

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.

Golden State Elite, Tahoe Prep alum, South Lake Tahoe native Dill selected MASCAC Rookie of Year

The MASCAC has announced that Salem State freshman forward Zach Dill is the MASCAC Rookie of the Year.

The South Lake Tahoe native found the back of the net 13 times while assisting on 17 others for 30 points.

He had five power-play goals, two game-winning goals, and registered a

hat trick during the 2022-23 season. Dill’s best game of the year came against Framingham State where he netted three goals and assisted on another in a 5-3 victory.

During his youth hockey days, Dill spent time with the Golden State Elite Eagles and at Tahoe Prep Academy. APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Zach Dill had a stellar first season for Salem State in ‘22-23. Photo/Salem State Athletics

Behind the Bench: Enjoy the ride, have perspective

It’s a fun ride coaching youth hockey.

After a decade, I have seen and heard a lot.

My favorite question I often receive is, “When do you think you will coach at the higher levels?”

Internally, I’m thinking no chance I would ever want to go after the NHL. I am not that into coaching or hockey. I just like helping kids. How do I answer this person nicely without seeming like a jerk?

Then the question comes, “You know…. high level. Like Bantam AAA or Midget AAA?”

Then I just laugh and answer the question.

Perspective and appreciation are often only afforded to those that travel up the mountain. The arrogance and assurance of those yet to climb the mountain can often be helpful in not knowing how hard the climb is during the accent but can occasionally be fatal.

We in Southern California are blessed with the gift and curse of being on our own little island of sorts in the hockey world.

After 10 years of watching kids succeed, fail, succeed then fail or just succeed, I have observed some interesting things that I would love to share.


If your kid is NOT CLEARLY the best player on his/her team. You’re good with the team you have, you don’t need to play AAAA (not a typo) hockey. It’s not the players around him/her, or the coach. He/she is where they need to be. They just need to get better.

If your kid is a top-five player on the team and bored with the pace of play. You can probably think about playing on a different team or making a move. It might be warranted.

If your kid is CLEARLY the best player, you can probably go play wherever you want and be just fine.

In our Southern California island, we have a limited number of “highlevel” players and a reasonably high number of teams to fill.

What this leads to is more average players being required to fill out the “higher level” teams. Lots of kids

are recruited to play on teams simply because the coach needs the numbers.

What often happens is weaker players get lost in the shuffle and their development slows.

If you’re not a top-five or topone player. Give a second thought about joining that “high-level” team and focus more on simply getting better. Become a better skater, shooter, stronger, faster, whatever you need to do.

Don’t believe the hype that playing on a high-level team will inherently make you better. It can help, but it isn’t a golden key to success.


There are A LOT. I mean A LOT of good players in this country. You are not competing with them right now, but they are out there.

Yes. Maybe you made the cut for that Bantam AAA team you always wanted to make. Then the Midget

AAA team.

But keep in mind that the jump from here to juniors is massive. You are no longer competing with the kids in your area. You are competing with kids from all over. It is NOT easy. Understand if you want to make the jump to Junior A and have a shot at college, you need to appreciate the amount of work, focus, desire, and sacrifice that goes into achieving that level. You need to REALLY work. Not just act like it. I have found 90 percent of kids want to act like they want it, and that’s fine. Just know where you are on the spectrum and adjust expectations accordingly.

Here is a fun fact. Some of the happiest kids I have coached are playing club hockey. They “failed” because they did not reach NCAA Division I. Appreciate that hockey is for FUN.

It is OK to play it for fun and be “good.” You don’t have to want to make it to NCAA Division I or the pros. That is REALLY hard.

You can play in southern California your whole life and have a great time. Then play club at UCLA and have an absolute blast. Still play with a team. Still have competitive hockey and most importantly be able to take those high-level pre-med classes (which is borderline impossible if you go D-I).

I know I don’t want to coach in the NHL. One of my best friends does. He is going to make the NHL, no question. Follow his career. His name is Brock Sheahan.

He eats, breathes, sleeps, and lives hockey. I literally cannot talk to him without him telling me about his team (uninitiated by me). He is willing to pay the price.

I am not.

I have the perspective to know I am a decent coach. I could be great. But I am not willing to endure the sacrifice to do so.

So, I appreciate the level I am at, and I enjoy it.

I urge all of you to have a perspective on where you are and appreciate the fun of it. This journey goes by insanely fast.

By defining what price you are willing to pay and what level you REALLY expect to be at you can maximize your fun.

Refs make bad calls, coaches are terrible sometimes, politics are real (people are people) and often the hours are rough.

But have perspective and appreciate where you are at. The good, bad and ugly.

Whether your kid is on track for NCAA Division I or club, enjoy the ride. It ends. It always ends… APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Noah Babin played NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Notre Dame and currently coaches with the San Diego Jr. Gulls youth hockey program. Noah Babin (middle left, Coyotes jersey) is joined by, from left, Daniel Parizek, Addison Azar, Erik Hultenious, Sean Kanervisto, Sean Devaney, Ben Goddard, Lysusyen Loshak, Josh Groll, Matt Genter, Davis Bone, Jon Klus, and Keigo Hachisuka in Phoenix in 2015 at a Coyotes alumni-coaches game. Photo/provided by Noah Babin
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Broomfield native Cote wins second straight CCC Player of Year honor, also nominated for Laura Hurd Award

For the second time in as many years, Shana Cote of the Suffolk women’s hockey team has been announced as a finalist for the American Hockey Coaches Association 2023 Laura Hurd Award, given annually to the best NCAA Division III women’s hockey player in the country.

Sponsored by the AHCA, the Hurd Award honors the memory of former Elmire College standout Laura Hurd. A 2005 graduate of Elmira, and a four-time All-American, Hurd died in an automobile accident shortly after graduation. She was the recipient of the AHCA Player of the Year Award in 2005.

Suffolk’s captain found her way on the Laura Hurd Award ballot for the second consecutive campaign after repeating as the Commonwealth Coast Conference Player of the Year. That recognition came on a regularseason in which the Rams’ top-line center provided 26 points on a stat

line of 13 goals and 13 assists. Three of her goals lifted the Rams to victory, while four came on the power play, with both numbers leading the CCC in the regular season.

Cote, a Broomfield native, was a critical ingredient to Suffolk’s firstever CCC regular-season title and was instrumental to the team’s postseason CCC championship, dishing out an assist in the semifinal and title tilt to help the Rams punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

In addition to be one of the biggest scoring threats in New England, Cote has proven to be a faceoff specialist with 378 wins in the circle to lead the nation.

Cote will go down in the Rams’ record book as the leader in every offensive category behind 123 careers points on 59 goals and 64 assists. She is one of three Suffolk players to play in all 115 games in program’s

five-year history and this season she became the first-ever Rams skater to produce 100-plus points in a Suffolk sweater.

A year ago, Cote became the first Ram, male or female, to collect AllAmerican status from the AHCA, receiving a spot on the 2022 second team. Regionally, Cote was recognized as a New England Writers Association Division II-III All-Star as a senior. Cote owns a pair of first-team All-CCC distinctions to go along with a pair of third-team selections from the New England Hockey Conference. Her standout career started as a freshman with NEHC Rookie of the Year and NEHC All-Rookie Team honors.

With her spot on the Hurd Award list for the second straight season, Cote is the only skater under the CCC umbrella to be nominated for consideration for the highest NCAA D-III women’s hockey award.

Shana Cote has been an offensve catalyst for the Suffolk women’s team in her time wearing a Rams uniform. Photo/Suffolk Athletics

WCRHL championships big on intrigue with nationals approaching

Championship tournaments are always exciting and this year’s Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL) finals were especially so.

The 10-team event, held March 4 at Corona Inline, determined championships in four divisions: Division I, Division II, Division III and Division AA. Intrigue was definitely apparent as the best-of-three Division I championship series went the full distance and the top regular-season finisher in both Division II and Division III were unable to repeat in the championship playoffs.

Harguindeguy tabbed MIAC Rookie of the Year: The MIAC has announced that Concordia’s Joe Harguindeguy is the MIAC Rookie of the Year for the 2022-23 season. The first-year forward had 15 points in as many games for the Cobbers and registered four multiple-point games in his debut season. In California, the La Habra native played for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Photo/Concordia Athletics

“It was a great weekend with some really tight games,” WCRHL league director Brennan Edwards said. “The final regular-season event two weeks prior still had a lot of games being played across divisions, which meant a lot of high scoring games. At the conference championships, the games were much closer, great games actually.”

The other two divisions didn’t disappoint in excitement level with CSU-Fullerton upending regularseason leader University of Arizona for the Division II title and UC Santa Barbara, the regular-season secondplace finisher, claiming the Division III crown over Cal Poly Pomona, the regular season third-place finisher. The format was streamlined to fit into one day of non-stop, end-to-end action.

Two teams competed in both Division I and the AA-Division, with championships in both divisions determined by a best-of-three series. Division II and Division III both included three teams, with a preliminary round-robin determining the two finalists.

As an encore, 11 WCRHL teams received bids to the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Championships April 19-23 in Irvine.

-- Phillip Brents APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY

Grand Junction native, Thunderbirds grad Cloutier decides on NCAA future with commitment to Division III Lawrence

Carter Cloutier has taken his game to a new level the past two seasons in the NAHL.

Last week, the hard work for the Grand Junction native paid off with a commitment to NCAA D-III Lawrence University, an NCHA school located in Appleton, Wis.

“I first met the coach (Brett Wall) back in October when he came to my game in Chippewa, Wis.,” said Cloutier, playing this season for the Springfield Jr. Blues. “He approached me after the game and said he really liked me and he would love to stay in touch. From there on, we had consistent contact and I eventually went on a visit over New Year’s weekend. What appealed to me about Lawrence was that they have new coaches looking to take the program to next step and they are very passionate about what they are doing, which is exciting for me to be a part of. From a school standpoint, their academics

are very high class and I value my education just as much as athletics.

“They do a great job of setting their athletes up for a great career as soon as you graduate. I was talking to several other schools, but the Lawrence coaches did a great job of recruiting and making me feel really wanted and a part of their family, which was very important to me.”

Unsure of a major yet, Cloutier said he is leaning towards something in Business.

Cloutier is currently in his second and final season playing junior hockey in the NAHL and has appeared in 39 games with the Jr. Blues this season, recording nine points (four goals, five assists). He began the 2021-22 season with the Jr. Blues and was traded to the Lone Star Brahmas. He finished the 2021-22 season playing with the Kenai River Brown Bears.

“We think Carter will transition to the NCHA well after spending the majority of his NAHL time in the strong Midwest Division where points are at a premium,” said Wall. “I feel that Carter is the full 200-foot player and person. As the assistant captain in Springfield, he is going to bring leadership experience and a high compete level to our lineup and the classroom here at Lawrence.”

Developing in the NAHL has given Cloutier the opportunity to round out his game to be ready for the college ranks.

“Playing in Springfield and the NAHL has helped me so much be-

cause the competition in this league is very high and every day, I feel like I am getting better because of it,” Cloutier said. “My coaches, Tyler Rennette and Todd Pococke, were very important in my development and they gave me a lot of opportunities to succeed. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if it wasn’t for those two.”

Looking ahead, Cloutier wants to achieve great things, both on and off the ice.

“Next year as a freshman, I am looking to be an immediate impact for the team and help us win hockey games,” said Cloutier. “School-wise, I am just excited to get back in a classroom since I haven’t physically been in one since I graduated high school back in 2020. I’ve been taking online classes since then, but I’m excited to meet new people and my professors.”

Cloutier played youth hockey for the Colorado Thunderbirds, Grand Junction Jr. Mavericks and Glenwood Grizzlies.

Lakewood native, Thunderbirds standout Clarke decides to take skill set to NCDC with Pueblo

Brody Clarke has made a name for himself the past few years with the Colorado Thunderbirds.

He’s hoping to keep that trend going next season when he suits up for the NCDC’s Pueblo Bulls, a team that is part of the USPHL’s expansion of its NCDC branch, after recently signing a tender agreement with the Bulls.

“I’ve been familiar with the staff at Pueblo for a while,” said Clarke, a Lakewood native. “A few of their coaches were at an Air Force showcase last summer and I was introduced to them there. They reached out to me after a tournament this year and after talking to them, it became clear that there was mutual interest. They watched a few more of our games and offered me a tender after that.

“It’s really exciting. My brother

played in the division and had nothing but good things to say about it, so I was super happy to hear that it was moving up to the NCDC. I love the mountain area and being close to home is awesome. Knowing my parents can make a weekend trip down to Pueblo is something that helped sell me. It’s really cool to hopefully be a part of the start of high-level junior hockey out west.”

Clarke noted that with the USPHL being a top producer of college hockey talent, that aspect itself was enough to draw him to the league.

“It’s really appealing,” Clarke said. “With the origins of the league being out east, it always appealed to me, but it never seemed like a place many people I knew played in. With the westward expansion, it’s really exciting. Their league has a good bit of notoriety and knowing its track record of moving kids into college hockey is on par with my goals as a hockey player.”

Growing up, Clarke spent the bulk of his time with the Thunderbirds, including this season, and also played for the Colorado Evolution and Arapahoe Warriors.

“A lot of things stand out about playing for the Thunderbirds, but playing In the Quebec tournament and making the national championship game are two things I’ll never forget,” said Clarke. “Another thing that stands out to me is the friendships I’ve made playing for the Thunderbirds. My past and current

teammates are my best friends and growing up alongside them has been the best part of playing hockey. All of my coaches have been amazing at the Thunderbirds.

“I have to say that coach Phil Patenaude this year really gave me an opportunity to showcase my ability and was a major aspect in helping me move onto juniors.”

Going forward, Clarke has his eyes on further advancing his career, both on and off the ice.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing college hockey,” Clarke said. “I hope to play NCAA Division I, and I’m confident Pueblo is a place that can put me in a spot to do so. My shortterm goals are to establish myself as a critical player for the team in its first year and continue to learn and appreciate the game. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but playing juniors has been a goal of mine since I was a kid and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.” APRIL 2023 RUBBER HOCKEY
Carter Cloutier excelled playing two seasons in the NAHL. Photo/NAHL Brody Clarke has been a standout player for the Colorado Thunderbirds. Photo/Tammy Sellers

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

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Articles inside

Lakewood native, Thunderbirds standout Clarke decides to take skill set to NCDC with Pueblo

page 23

Grand Junction native, Thunderbirds grad Cloutier decides on NCAA future with commitment to Division III Lawrence

page 23

Broomfield native Cote wins second straight CCC Player of Year honor, also nominated for Laura Hurd Award

page 22

Behind the Bench: Enjoy the ride, have perspective

page 21

Golden State Elite, Tahoe Prep alum, South Lake Tahoe native Dill selected MASCAC Rookie of Year

page 20

USPHL NCDC Combine dates announced for Detroit, Chicago

page 20

San Jose native, Jr. Sharks alum McKown signs NHL deal with Blue Jackets

pages 18-19

Thunderbirds standout, Denver native Pusateri nets NAHL opportunity with Odessa tender

page 17

Jr. Coyotes alum, Phoenix native Knies wraps season at Minnesota,

page 16

Jr. Golden Knights win 14U Tier II 2A national title in shootout

page 15

LHA uses home-ice advantage to secure 14U Tier II 3A national title at Edge Ice Arena

page 14

For more info, visit

page 13

IHAAZ season rolling along

page 13

Bobcats overcome tight second period for 18U Tier II 2A national championship

page 12

Learn how to improve your speed during the hockey offseason

page 11

Exercising has multitude of benefts for adults

page 10

From the Trainer’s Room

page 8

Home crowd in Littleton boosts Hawks to 14U Tier II 3A national championship in overtime thriller

page 6

Two goals in 15 seconds lift Hawks to 16U Tier II 3A national championship glory

page 6

March IHAAZ events adding to competition with State Finals looming

page 5

Words from the publisher...

page 4

Jr. Coyotes grad, Sun Devils captain Doan staying home, signs NHL contract with Coyotes

page 3

Jr. Kings win Tier I 15O national championship in overtime

page 3
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