Last week before the Anaheim Ducks came home to Honda Center for this season’s Opening Night, some very talented SoCal high school hockey players got the chance to skate on the same ice as their hockey heroes in the 2nd Annual Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League All-Star Game.
Varsity and JV rosters comprised of 72 of the top players in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League were rewarded for their standout performances this season by playing the sport they love on actual NHL ice.
What an amazing opportunity for these kids.
A part of the Anaheim Ducks G.O.A.L. program (Growth Outreach Awareness Locally), the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) was started in 2008 with one team from one school, the JSerra Catholic High School Ice Lions in San Juan Capistrano.
Now, the league boasts 14 teams from 12 schools that hail from all over Southern California. And the league, which hosts their games at Anaheim Ice, has their eye on continued growth each year. With support from the Anaheim Ducks, these kids not only get to play hockey, but get to represent their high school while doing it. That’s a great source of pride for these players, their families and their fellow students.
The JV game was up first, with the White Team defeating the Black Team by the score of 8-5. Los Alamitos High School’s Tripp Krenmuir scored a hat trick on the night, which earned him MVP honors.
In the Varsity contest, it was the Black Team that defeated the White Team, 5-2, with Corona del Mar High School’s Tyler Maloney taking home the award for MVP, tallying one goal and one assist.
With both MVPs coming from schools that are new to the league this year, I could tell by their words that Krenmuir and Maloney were grateful for the unique opportunity to be at Honda Center that night, representing their school and their teammates.
Beyond the two All-Star games, the night was packed with a full schedule of activities. Between periods, the All-Stars got to compete in skills competitions, including fastest skater and goaltender relays.
Also featured that night were the finals in the 3rd Annual Mini 1-on-1 Tournament. More than 155 shooters and goalies competed across the Squirt, PeeWee and Bantam divisions over the past few months at The Rinks locations. The finalists got to show off their skills to the fans at Honda Center. It was great to see these young kids compete with such confidence and poise.
And if that wasn’t enough action for one night, fans in attendance were also a part of the inaugural Battle of the Bands contest, where kids from high schools in the ADHSHL performed for the chance to win $1000. Votes for the four finalists were tallied through texting and at the end of the night, FIA, representing Huntington Beach High School, came away with the most votes and took home the top prize.
From the Battle of the Bands to the battle on the ice, each of the events spotlighted at Honda Center last week reinforced the impact the Anaheim Ducks and their G.O.A.L. program are having on the growth of youth hockey in Southern California. The quality programming is providing local kids the opportunity to learn, play and get connected with this great sport. And that is excellent news for SoCal hockey.
This past Tuesday night, the Ducks first round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Emerson Etem (selected 29th overall, from Long Beach, CA), took the ice in San Jose for his first NHL game. According to the Ducks, Etem is the 13th player in NHL history born and trained in Southern California to appear in an NHL game, with nine of those 13 coming in the last eight seasons (since 2005-06). And since the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, NHL clubs have selected 17 players from Southern California.
While many may always consider this area of surf and sand to be a “non-traditional” hockey market, the recent growth of the sport here and it’s impact on kids in our community cannot be denied. The 72 players who represented their high schools at Honda Center that night may not ever play on NHL ice again, but they should celebrate the fact that they are a part of a special movement here locally in their sport, fueled in large part by the commitment of the Anaheim Ducks.
California a hockey hotbed? Why not?
For more information on the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League and all of the great events provided through the Anaheim Ducks G.O.A.L. program, visit ducksgoal.com