Editor’s Column: Recent rink openings a score
As hockey’s popularity continues to surge at all levels across California, ice constraints have become a growing concern.
Rink openings this month in Poway and Goleta are certainly a breath of fresh air for skaters in the San Diego and Santa Barbara regions.
Poway Ice Arena houses one NHL-sized ice sheet and serves as the official practice facility of the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls.
“It’s exciting,” said Nish Mehta, owner of the rink. “There’s a lot of buzz around the community with pro hockey back in town, and our presence is going to expose even more people in the area – young and old – to hockey and skating.”
Goleta’s Ice in Paradise is a two-sheet facility boasting both a NHL-sized and smaller studio rink (100 x 60 feet).
“There’s certainly a need for more ice along the Central Coast, no question,” said Larry Bruyere, general manager of the facility. “And the support from the local hockey and skating communities is already there, so that bodes well for the entire area.”
Two more California-groomed standouts – Joe Cassetti and Trevin Kozlowski – made NCAA Division I plans recently.
Cassetti, from Pleasanton, has committed to Boston College, while Kozlowski, a Valencia product, will head to Army.
A 1999-born forward and former San Jose Jr. Shark, Cassetti is playing this season with the U.S. National Under-17 Team. He spent three seasons with the Jr. Sharks before playing two years of Midget with Michigan’s Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
“I can’t say enough about the Jr. Sharks organization and what my teammates and coaches did for me,” said Cassetti, who will head to BC following his junior career. “During my time there, I made lifelong friends and developed into the player I am today.”
A goaltender, Kozlowski 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.
The ‘97-born Kozlowski played his youth hockey for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, LA Selects, California Titans and Valencia Express before heading to prep school.
At Army, Kozlowski will be joined by Westchester native and former Jr. King Taylor Maruya, a ’95-born forward in his freshman season with the Black Knights.
When it comes to introducing the youngest of girls to hockey in Southern California, there’s no grounding the Anaheim Lady Ducks.
This season, the organization launched its inaugural 6U Lady Ducks in Training program designed for Lady Ducklings ages 4-6. This fall, the 6U team is learning skills and competing in The Rinks Cross-Ice 3-on-3 program.
“Continuing to build our base (of players) is so important, and this is another way of getting more girls involved in our program,” said Lady Ducks director Kathy McGarrigle. “The response has been terrific.”
USA Hockey announced earlier this month that Sharks Ice-San Jose will serve as host of the 2017 USA Hockey Sled National Championships, which will run from April 6-9, 2017.
This season, Sharks Ice and the San Jose Jr. Sharks will host the 18U and 16U Boys Tier I USA Hockey National Championships, which will be contested from March 31-April 4, 2016.
“It’s always an honor to be selected to host a nationally-recognized tournament,” said Sharks Ice general manager Jon Gustafson. “I think it speaks volumes to the quality of our facility and ability to successfully showcase USA Hockey-sponsored events.”
Craig Johnson, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks’ director of coaches and Bantam AAA1 head coach, has been tabbed the assistant coach of the U.S. Men’s Select Team that will compete in this year’s Deutschland Cup, which will run from Nov. 6-8 in Augsburg, Germany.
The Deutschland Cup, which is mainly comprised of professional players stationed in European leagues, will feature teams from Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States.
Want to help get behind the fight against cancer? Pick up a Sons of Hockey Fights Cancer t-shirt at SonsOfHockey.com.
The organization is generously donating $8 from each shirt sold to Hockey Fights Cancer.
– Brian McDonough