Going out on top: San Jose’s Alonzo part of FHL champs
If ever there was a way to finish a professional hockey career, winning a championship is the ultimate way to go out.
Justin Alonzo played three seasons of pro hockey and won titles the past two seasons with Federal Hockey League (FHL) clubs, including last month with the first-year Port Huron (Mich.) Prowlers. He captained the Watertown (N.Y.) Wolves to an FHL crown in 2014-15.
“The atmosphere in Port Huron was unbelievable,” said Alonzo. “The support we received from our fans throughout the whole year made our team. We knew it used to be a big hockey town and we wanted to bring a winning team back. I haven’t heard a place louder in my time playing and as players we fed off the excitement from our fans.”
Port Huron wrapped up the Commissioner’s Cup title with a win over the Danbury Titans on home ice at the McMorran Arena on April 22.
To top off the year, Alonzo scored 32 goals among 89 points and was named the FHL’s Forward of the Year. Overall, he finished third in league scoring.
Still, the San Jose native would rather reflect on the championships.
“Back to back is pretty cool,” Alonzo said. “I don’t think there are many who have done it. Those who have know how cool it is to do. Every championship is special. It’s something you will always have with you and no one can take that from you. To me, I believe this year meant more to me because I came into the season having it be my last, so it meant more to win one last time and go out on top.
“We all start the season with one goal in mind and only one team can achieve that goal. Being that team standing at the top at the end is a special feeling. We all believed we would and could win since the start of the year with the guys we had in the locker room. I think the fans can look forward to the league improving more and more as the years go on.”
And while the Prowlers certainly had the skill to bag the Commissioner’s Cup, Alonzo said it took more than that in capturing the championship.
“To win a championship, you have to have the best team chemistry,” explained Alonzo. “We weren’t always doing everything all the time together, but when we did, everyone participated. There wasn’t a guy on the team that I couldn’t hang out with. I got along very well with everyone. I think everyone got along pretty well, which is why we were able to come together and win and create that special bond that we will forever share.”
Growing up, Alonzo skated with the San Jose Jr. Sharks (Mite through Bantam AA) and Santa Clara Blackhawks and also coaches with the Blackhawks. He began playing in Redwood City at the Nazareth Ice Oasis for the Redwood City Polar Bears.
“That might still be my favorite logo of all time,” noted Alonzo.
His father, also named Justin, coached him until he was 12 and along with John Van Siclen, was a major coaching influence on his hockey career.
“My dad was a huge mentor and coach for me and then my hockey skills and sense started to develop a lot after playing for John,” said Alonzo. “One thing I’ll always remember was one day at practice, he came up to me and told me if I wanted to be better that I would need to be in the front of the line for every drill. To this day, I still use that – it forces you to pay attention and not want to mess up the drill. I don’t think he knows how much he has done for me as a player, but hopefully he knows he had a lot to do with my success as a player.”
Photo/Anthony + Darci Photography
— Matt Mackinder