Editor’s Column: More locals make D-I plans
While many were taking a well-deserved break from ice rinks over the summer, a few California-groomed products were deciding where they’re going to play their college hockey in the coming years.
Six players from Southern California made NCAA Division I plans in recent months: Rory Herrman (Arizona State University), Will Johnson (University of Wisconsin); Trevin Kozlowski (Army) Jacob Modry (RPI); Nick Rivera (Minnesota State University-Mankato); and Jakob Romo (Arizona State).
Johnson (Santa Barbara), a forward who played locally for the Channel Islands Riptide and California Titans, will begin his career with the Badgers this fall, while Modry (El Segundo), a defenseman who’s patrolling the blue line for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings’ 16U AAA team this season, will dress for the Engineers after his junior career.
Rivera (Pacific Palisades) and Romo (Fullerton) – both forwards – will also head to their respective campuses at the conclusion of their junior careers.
Rivera, who played for the Jr. Kings, is in his second season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), while Romo, a former Anaheim Jr. Duck, California Stars and LA Selects player, is skating for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Herrman (San Diego), a forward and former San Diego Jr. Gull and Jr. Duck who made his commitment to ASU earlier this month, will also dress for the Sun Devils after his junior career. He’s playing for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks this season.
Kozlowski (Valencia) is stopping pucks this season at The Gunnery in Connecticut where he’ll graduate in the spring. He’ll play one year of junior hockey before heading to Army (he committed to West Point this month).
He played locally for the Jr. Kings, LA Selects, California Titans and Valencia Express before heading to prep school.
The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) continues to prosper, adding seven new teams to its stable this season.
All told, 48 teams from 41 programs will participate in the ADHSHL in 2015-16.
“We’re thrilled with the continued growth of our league, expanding from one team in 2008 to 48 today,” said The Rinks vice president Art Trottier. “It speaks volumes to the growth of youth hockey in Southern California.”
The ADHSHL expanded to five divisions last year, which included the Western Prep Hockey League, as well as Varsity Division I and II and Junior Varsity North and South. It’s added a Varsity Division III bracket this season.
New programs this year include Manitoba’s Pilot Mound Hockey Academy (Western Prep); Mater Dei, Classical Academy, Chino Valley and Poway United (all Varsity Division III); and Bishop Amat Memorial and Carlsbad United (both Junior Varsity).
Elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in June, Panorama City-born Angela Ruggiero last month was also named to this year’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class.
A four-time Olympic medalist – she helped the U.S. win its first-ever gold in 1998 – Ruggiero was a dominating force on the blue line throughout her 15-plus-year career with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Ruggiero played for the Pasadena Maple Leafs as a youth before moving to Michigan. She went on to play four years at Harvard University, helping the Crimson win a national championship in 1999.
She was awarded the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Trophy in 2004 as the NCAA’s top women’s player.
Goaltender Evan Sarthou, who played for the Jr. Kings, was selected to compete in the upcoming CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, which will be showcased on Sept. 24 in Buffalo.
A Washington native, Sarthou backstopped the U.S. team to a gold medal at April’s Under-18 World Championship in Switzerland and is beginning his third season with the Tri-City (Wash.) Americans of the Western Hockey League.
The Prospects Game assembles the top U.S. players who are eligible for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
One of the most respected advocates of youth hockey across the state, Steve Laing will retire from his post as president of the California Amateur Hockey Association next June to run for the position of Pacific District director.
Our condolences to the friends and family of Chris Keil, a longtime Santa Clara Blackhawks player who passed away over the summer.
Chris’ father, Mark Keil, serves as vice president of the Northern California Junior Hockey Association.
– Brian McDonough