Jr. Sharks’ 10U B team finds success at Silver Sticks playing on home ice
Last month, the San Jose Jr. Sharks’ 10U B team played on home ice at the Pacific Regional Silver Stick Championships.
And won the regional title at Solar4America Ice at San Jose on Nov. 25 with a 9-0 win over the Vacaville Jets, thus earning the right to play in the International Silver Stick Finals from Jan. 10-13 in Pelham, Ont. – a small town between Toronto and Buffalo.
What makes this story one for the ages is that many of the team’s players are first-year travel players.
“The story about our fourth 10U team is one of growth,” said coach Greg Angus. “A majority of our players came directly out of our in-house program and never experienced the amount of hard work and dedication that a travel team requires. Every single one of my players has shown that they were ready and willing to put in the effort, however, and it shows.
“If you were to look at today’s team, you would never imagine that this is their first year on a travel hockey team. Their skills have increased exponentially, and they really work as a team. The way that they show up to every practice ready to grow and become better hockey players is truly commendable.”
Team manager Kim Saito is equally elated with the squad.
“We are all so proud of what this team has accomplished,” said Saito. “We have several players who only started playing hockey in the last year or two, so this is a huge accomplishment for this team. It’s really fun to see the excitement and camaraderie in this group. They are really coming together as the season progresses. Coach Greg has done a fantastic job in maximizing each player’s talents and keeping the kids engaged.”
The Jr. Sharks’ 10U B team is comprised of forwards Evan Beech, Trevor Chin, Gabriel Combellas, Aiden (AJ) Love, Colin Matasek, Cale Nakasone, Kazimierz Soszynski and Marcus VonKlemperer; defensemen Boris Bektchiev, Thomas Hoh, Naylen Saito and Niklas Tossavainen; and goalies Dylan Bechtel and Cody Gardner. Joining Angus on the coaching staff are assistant coaches William Richard Chin and Olli-Pekka Tossavainen.
“I really love how supportive everyone is of each other on this team,” said Angus. “Every time someone gets a good shift in, someone on the bench is sure to knuckle bump or pat them on the back. After each game, be it a win or a loss, cheers are heard for the stars of the game. It’s not something I ever told the kids to explicitly do, but it’s present, nonetheless. I have never seen them walk away from a game with their heads down, and I am extremely proud of that.”
Saito added that with an “underdog” team, so to speak, it was truly special to see the players capture the Silver Stick banner and trophy that reflects the tournament’s name – literally, a silver hockey stick.
“The Jr. Sharks House League at Solar4America Ice has given the kids a great foundation to build upon,” she said. “Most of our team has come up through the house league and several began their hockey journey in the Little Sharks Learn To Play program. Both programs do a fantastic job teaching these young players the fundamental skills needed to excel in this sport.”
Looking ahead to Pelham, Angus said the trip will be a new experience for everyone on the team.
“I want to give the players a chance to engross themselves in the trip without overwhelming them,” said Angus. “We are planning to make the most out of this trip, and really have the kids experience new and different activities, including playing pond hockey, visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame, meeting teams from all over North America, and simply enjoying Canada.
“We are competing in this tournament to learn and grow, and a majority of that is done off of the ice. If the trip is all business, nobody has fun, and what’s the point of hockey if you aren’t having fun?”
— Matt Mackinder
(Dec. 21, 2018)