Jenelyn Russo

By Jenelyn Russo

Jenelyn Russo

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Taking Flight – the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League

So here we are into December, and the NHL lockout is still in full effect. In an effort to save the season, talks are scheduled to take place Tuesday involving NHL players and owners, minus NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr. You can read a couple of stories about it here and here. It’s an interesting approach. Will it work? We wait and see….

So in the mean time, hockey fans, how are you enduring? How are you getting your hockey fix? In the December issue of OC Family, I shine the spotlight on an option for watching some great local hockey – the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.

The league, which got its start in 2008 with one team at one school, has now grown to 14 teams at 12 schools throughout SoCal. And they have big growth plans on the horizon.

I had yet to take in any of these games, so before Thanksgiving I headed over to Anaheim Ice to check it out. The Saturday night tilt featured JSerra Catholic High School versus Santa Margarita Catholic High School. These two teams have become rivals, facing each other last spring in the league’s championship game, with JSerra capturing the top prize.

And you know what? It was a lot of fun! It was fast-paced, up and down action. The stands were packed with parents and students, many wearing their school’s jerseys. Several of the teams have a PA announcer (you can read my column on PA announcer Christian Ilten here) who calls the goals and penalties, and plays music at the stoppages, keeping the fans engaged with the action. And this game was a tight contest, with the Santa Margarita Eagles edging out the JSerra Ice Lions 1-0.

It doesn’t take the place of watching the Ducks play at Honda Center. Nothing does. (Although I did spy one of Teemu Selanne’s sons—he wears Number 9 for the Santa Margarita Eagles). But this is another great example of how the Anaheim Ducks organization is investing in our youth to grow the sport of hockey in our community. These kids not only love playing the game, they take great pride in representing their school. The games are local, fun and free to the fans. As a way of getting your hockey fix, you can’t beat that deal.

You can read my entire column here, where I interview former Mighty Duck and Orange Lutheran coach Jason Marshall, as well as Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. Whether or not we hear any news about the NHL season this week, be sure to head down to Anaheim Ice on a Saturday to watch some of these high school kids play.

 You can read up on all the teams in the league, including rosters, stats, schedules and standings at

For the entire December OC Family issue, click here for the digital version, or pick up a copy at locations all over Orange County.

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