LAKHSHL crowns champs at ‘Rally in the Valley’ tournament
The L.A. Kings High School Hockey League (LAKHSHL) held its first “Rally in the Valley” tournament during the holiday break and by all accounts, the inaugural event was a success.
Held Dec. 27-30 at Ice Station Valencia and Iceoplex Simi Valley, the tournament featured 10 teams competing in varsity and junior varsity divisions and offered a five-game guarantee.
“This tournament was a tremendous success for its first season,” said Courtney Ports, the league’s manager of hockey development.
“This tournament was open to teams outside of the L.A. Kings High School League, which allowed for some different matchups outside of the regular high school schedule. It was important for us to have a tournament that showcased the level of hockey our high school league is producing. We are proud of how far this league has come in just a few short years and look forward to expanding this tournament year after year to other high school leagues and high school-age players.”
The Santa Barbara Royals won the varsity division, besting a group that also included the East County Outlaws, Long Beach Prep, Santa Clarita Cobras, South County Aviators and Valencia Vikings.
The Royals were dominant throughout the tournament, outscoring their opponents, 36-11. They opened with an 8-1 win over the Cobras, then toppled Long Beach Prep 6-1 before being challenged in a 5-4 victory over the Outlaws. They responded with a 5-2 triumph over the Aviators and a 9-2 win over the Cougars. In the tournament’s championship game on Dec. 30, they were once again pushed by the Outlaws, but came out on top 3-2. Jack Johnson scored two goals in the championship game.
“Winning the tournament was extremely special for our team,” Royals forward Chris Ewasiuk said. “The banner is the physical manifestation of the constant sweat and effort by our team to constantly improve.”
The Royals roster includes forwards Cameron Baron, Collin Del Bonis, Harrison Del Bonis, Ben Essig, Ewasiuk, Ben Fellows, Tyler Martindale, Jared McMullen and Nicholas Poire; Johnson, Ayden Klock, Ryan McMullen, Shea Rousseau, Emmett Rupert and Daniel Solomon on defense; and goalies Will Hahn and Matthew Park.
“We were somewhat surprised that the two games (against the Outlaws) were too close for comfort,” Ewasiuk said. “Our team is very well rounded in talent, and we’ve learned to depend on each other in tight situations. The success within those two games primarily came from our team being selfless. We played as a unit and ultimately were able to subdue their talented players.”
In the junior varsity division, the West Ranch Wildcats came out on top of a three-team battle that also included the East County Outlaws and Torrance Destroyers.
The Wildcats beat the Destroyers 8-1 in their opening game, then toppled the Outlaws by the same score. They skated to a 5-2 victory over the Outlaws and an 8-2 triumph over the Destroyers on the tournament’s second-to-last day and in the championship game, earned an 8-2 victory over the Outlaws. Zach Garner and Dylan Smith each scored two goals in the title tilt.
“I think winning the tournament was good because it put us on top of all the teams in the LAKHSHL,” Wildcats forward Hunter Garant said. “It meant that we need to work harder during the regular season and try even harder than we did it in the tournament, but it also felt good to win.”
The Wildcats roster includes forwards Alexandre Duforest, Chris Dunleavy, Garant, Garner, Ben Gersh, Dylan Litwak, Antonio Mejia, Jacob Ramirez and Smith; defensemen Tyler Amara, Dylan Horowitz, Chris Maghakian, Max McConnell and Joshua Xie; and goalies Noah Duforest and Matt Raney.
Ports said the tournament wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Ilyse Wolfe, Megan Rivera, Danny Patterson, Xen Gikas and the league’s Chariot Staff.
“We are beyond excited to grow this tournament and truly make this a staple event for years to come,” Ports said.
— Greg Ball