Jr. Sharks’ 19U AAA girls win Pacific Districts, Nationals-bound
The San Jose Jr. Sharks’ 19U AAA girls team won’t have to go far to compete for a USA Hockey national championship.
After winning a Pacific District title earlier this month in Alaska, the Jr. Sharks will head down to Irvine to play in the national tournament April 4-8. It’s the third straight year going to Nationals for the club.
“There are a number of things that have contributed to our club’s success, but I really have to put a big emphasis on the people,” said Amanda Long, the Sharks girls and women’s hockey coordinator. “The commitment that the parents and players have to make in order to compete at this level is very demanding and without them, we would not be this far along. We also owe a lot of credit to many of the coaches who have developed these players throughout their time in our program. And specifically, this season, our 19U AAA coaching staff has really done a great job of pushing these players past their comfort zones and has prepared them to be competitive at the national level.
“After two consecutive years of advancing to the national tournament at the Tier II level, we knew how important it would be to push to compete at the Tier I level. Obviously, competing at the Tier I level, it’s another step up, but I think this team was ready to face those challenges.”
This season’s Jr. Sharks’ 19U AAA girls team is comprised of skaters Evelyne Blais-Savoie, Elizabeth Burke, Sydney Merritt, Juliette Blais-Savoie, Marisa Trevino, Claire Peterson, Maxx Goodman, Victoria Scurto, Kenzie Fogarty, Evelyn Andrade, Ella Hedman, Ria Stevens and Sarah Smails and goalies Olivia Colgan, Soleil Archambeault and Megan Warren.
Bobby Long is the head coach and joining him as assistant coaches are Robert Savoie, Rick Burke, Danielle Kozlowski and Liana Bonanno. The team manager is Karen Hackett.
“The thing I like most about this team is that each player has done a great job of determining how they can contribute to the team,” said Amanda Long. “They have learned how to play off each other’s strengths and have pulled together in a big way. I think, overall, the season has been a success. One of the biggest challenges this team faces is the ability to perform at the highest level in every game. Their travel schedule is very demanding and at times throughout the season, it has impacted their performance. These players have limited opportunities of exposure to college scouts so it’s extremely important to them to maintain a level of consistency.”
Team chemistry is a major focal point to the team’s success this season, according to Long.
“Many of these players have been playing together for quite a long time, so the chemistry is good,” she said. “Most of the players all have the same common goal, and that is to continue to develop at a competitive level and to advance to the collegiate level. With a common goal in place, it often eliminates the impact of any extra differences that might exist amongst the players.
“As a program, our focus has always been about long-term development and this team is a true reflection of that process. Many high-level players often consider leaving San Jose to other hockey hotbed areas in order to advance to the collegiate level. These players believed in what we are doing as a program and in turn, it has paid off for them.”
In Irvine, Long is looking for the team’s positive play to continue.
“This team exceeded our expectations during the regular season so heading into Nationals, the goal is to continue to be competitive and just take it one game at a time,” Long said. “Even though the tournament is in California, it is far enough away from home where it requires travel, which I believe will actually bring a bit of normalcy to their routine.
— Matt Mackinder
(March 28, 2019)