No sophomore jinx for CIF-Metro high rollers
The Scripps Ranch Falcons repeated as Kiwanis Cup champions to cap the 2019-20 CIF-Metro Conference high school roller hockey season, but a pair of sophomore scoring wizards – Cathedral Catholic’s Quinn Conway and Bonita Vista’s Maxwell Anderson – combined to earn a deserving share of the spotlight.
Conway (pictured) helped catapult the 11th-seeded Cathedral Catholic Dons (4-16) to a meteoric fourth-place finish in the conference’s championship playoffs while Anderson, playing his first season of scholastic inline hockey, turned in an amazing season to lead the Bonita Vista Barons to one of their finest finishes in a decade.
Both players let their stats do the talking on the playing court.
Conway led all playoff scorers with 15 goals and 23 points. He accounted for two-thirds of his team’s goals during the season, including 85 percent in the playoffs.
Anderson, whose somewhat diminutive stature belies his scoring prowess, finished with 98 goals and 120 points in 22 games to set a school record.
“It was definitely exciting watching Max all season,” veteran Bonita Vista head coach Keith Quigley said. “He had a season for the record books. As the head coach, I’m thrilled that he’s only a sophomore. Max really makes the players around him play harder and play better.
“Throughout the games I really liked how he would often give the lesser experienced players some tips about playing better hockey. I also really liked how he would try to set up his teammates so that they could score. He’s an unselfish player out there. Really proud of him and the season he had.”
Not surprisingly, both players have ice hockey backgrounds, including playing time in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL).
Conway began playing ice hockey at age 3 and is now in his second season with the San Diego Central Cathedral Jets in the ADHSHL. This is also his second season playing roller hockey for the Dons.
Anderson has logged ice time with the Poway Unified Hawks in the ADHSHL. It didn’t take him long to make an impact in roller hockey: he scored 11 goals in one game this season.
Perhaps appropriately, Anderson wears No. 99 on the rink, though it wasn’t by design.
“It was the only jersey size that would fit me,” Anderson said somewhat shyly. “I would never have chosen that number. That number is kind of reserved for Gretzky.”
Anderson certainly hasn’t tarnished the reputation of No. 99, however.
“I’m definitely having fun,” said Anderson, who earned recognition as a First Team All-Mesa League selection. “Roller hockey is a lot more offensive, there is no off-side. There’ s lot of space.”
Anderson has accounted for the lion’s share of scoring for the Barons (13-5) this season, though he hesitates from running up the score on opponents.
“It’s not necessary that I score a lot,” he said.
Hockey appears to be in Conway’s bloodline. His father played at the collegiate level for St. Mary’s University.
“I like the camaraderie, everyone working to achieve a common goal,” Conway answered when asked what he likes about playing ice hockey.
Conway has played ice hockey for the Jr. Gulls and SDIA Oilers programs and varsity for the Jets.
But hockey is not all-consuming.
His career goals are to pursue academics and attend Notre Dame University. He sports a 4.3 GPA and would like to major in business in college.
Roller hockey has definitely opened doors in other areas.
“It gives me a unique opportunity to represent my school in hockey as the Jets are not connected directly to the school,” he said. “I’m a captain. I like leading all the guys. Two of the guys are in my same grade. It’s nice to spend time with them inside and outside the classroom.”
The Second Team All-North County League pick lists Connor McDavid as his favorite NHL player. The Edmonton Oilers captain is considered to be one of the best players in the world. He’s a good role model to emulate.
“I like his speed, his puck skills are great,” Conway assessed. “The thing that really stand outs is his speed.”
Conway is putting those observations into practice, with good results.
“I think I’ve got some speed,” he admitted. “I can score a bit, too.”
Anderson also has expanded his interests. He has taken up long-distance running in high school on the Barons’ cross country and track and field teams.
“Hockey is kind of my secondary sport right now,” Anderson confessed.
Inline hockey has definitely caught his fancy, however.
“I’m definitely coming back next season,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
The two sophomore standouts had a chance to square off against each other in a first-round playoff game. Conway won the battle by collecting 10 points (five goals, five assists) in a 14-5 win.
Anderson scored all five of the goals for his team.
Conway racked up 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in the Dons’ second playoff game – a dramatic 10-9 upset win over the third-seeded Hilltop Lancers.
The Lancers had finished with a 20-1 regular season record as Mesa League champions while Cathedral Catholic, which at one point did not know if it would have enough players to field a team this season, had finished just 2-14 in the regular season.
The Dons built a 7-4 lead midway through the quarterfinal contest before Hilltop narrowed the score to one goal on a pair of tallies in the final 1:31 of the fast-paced game. The outcome remained in doubt until Cathedral Catholic cleared the puck deep into the Lancer end with six seconds to play.
“It started to get competitive and interesting down to the end,” Conway said, heaving a sigh of relief.
Player of the year
Westview High School senior defenseman Tyler Lee earned honors as the 2019-20 CIF-Metro Conference Player of the Year.
Lee, who is strictly a roller hockey player, accumulated 53 points – 27 goals and 26 assists – as the second-seeded Wolverines rolled to a final 17-4 record following a 7-4 loss to top-seeded Scripps Ranch (19-1) in the Kiwanis Cup championship game.
“Tyler plays a very aggressive point defense and is not afraid to unselfishly pass to a teammate or take a quality shot on opponents,” Westview coach Ron Smith assessed.
Smith noted one statistic that he is particularly proud of: Lee finished the season without being assessed a penalty.
“He leads by example on and off the rink with such a great attitude – a true humble leader,” the Westview coach said. “He also showed up every week to assist with our club/JV team and beginner skaters.
“He was the backbone of our defense and was the main reason we finished the season as No. 1 toughest team to score on. We only gave up a total of 33 goals against tough North County League teams.
“He took us a long way but we came up short in CIF championship game against Scripps Ranch.”
Lee had company on the all-conference honor roll: Westview sophomore goaltender Matthew Mahlow joined Lee on the All-CIF First Team while senior defenseman Andrew Chua received recognition on the All-CIF Second Team.
Scripps Ranch senior Kyle Fraser, Hilltop senior Trevor Fune and Rancho Bernardo senior defenseman Kiril Yampolsky also earned First Team honors.
Poway senior forward Michael Little, Chula Vista senior forward Lucio Gutierrez, Escondido Charter junior defenseman Josh Aldridge and Hilltop senior goaltender Jacob Lopez were additional Second Team selections.
Fraser collected two goals and one assist in the championship game victory while Mahlow recorded 18 saves in absorbing the loss.
Fune, the Mesa League Player of the Year, passed Bonita Vista’s Anderson in the final period of the final regular season game to win the district scoring title with 118 points (84 goals, 34 assists) while Gutierrez earned South Bay League Player of the Year honors after leading the league champion Spartans in season scoring with 57 points (42 goals, 15 assists).
Back to back
Scripps Ranch ran its record to 37-1 over the past two seasons after repeating as Kiwanis Cup champions. The Falcons posted their second undefeated season in school history by finishing 18-0 to cap the 2018-19 season.
Scripps Ranch secured its first perfect season with a 22-0 record in 2004.
The Falcons never trailed in this year’s championship game, which took place March 2 at the Escondido Sports Center.
Scripps Ranch opened up a 2-0 lead and later extended its lead to 5-1 before back-to-back goals by Chua and Oliver Polenichko 37 seconds apart narrowed the Falcon lead to 6-4 with just under 10 minutes to play in regulation.
The game hung in the balance until Ben Ivey scored his game-high fourth goal into an empty net with eight seconds to play to punctuate the heart-pounding finish.
Senior goaltender Taylor Cady buttressed the Falcons’ CIF-Metro Conference repeat with 17 saves. He made two saves after Westview pulled Mahlow for an extra attacker.
Fraser and Jack Ivey (one goal, two assists) both collected three points in the victory for Scripps Ranch.
Polenichko had two goals and one assist for the Wolverines, whose three regular season losses were all to the Falcons,
Fraser (six goals, 11 points), Ben Ivey (six goals, nine points) and Jack Ivey (five assists, eight points) paced Scripps Ranch in scoring in the team’s three playoff games.
The Falcons faced off their latest championship run with an 11-0 quarterfinal-round win over South Bay League champion Chula Vista as 10 players picked up points and nine players scored goals, topped by Ben Ivey with Aaron Lowy with two goals apiece.
The Falcons sped past fifth-seeded Escondido Charter White Tigers, 9-1, in the semifinals to avenge their only loss in regular season play. Fraser led Scripps Ranch with three goals and one assist while Joon Bae contributed a hat trick.
The North County League runner-up Wolverines received points from all players in the lineup in nailing down a berth in the 2020 Kiwanis Cup championship game with its commanding 19-2 semifinal win over Cathedral Catholic. Polencihko led Westview in the scoring department with eight goals and three assists while Kelso Cook tallied four times and tacked on two assists.
Westview faced off the playoffs with an 8-3 quarterfinal-round win over the seventh-seeded Poway Titans. Chua supplied the firepower with a hat trick while Polencihko picked up three points.
Polenichko finished as the Wolverines playoff scoring leader with 12 goals and 16 points.
Escondido Charter (13-8) defeated Cathedral Catholic, 7-1, in the third place game to finish 3-1 in postseason play. The White Tigers upset fourth-seeded Rancho Bernardo in the quarterfinals after topping 12th-seeded Patrick Henry, 5-0, in the first round.
Noah Meni (six goals, seven points) and Aldridge (five points) led Escondido Charter in playoff scoring.
This year’s Kiwanis Cup playoffs featured 13 teams and 13 games.
All seven teams from the North County League gained admission while the top three teams from the Mesa League and South Bay League did so.
Patrick Henry defeated the San Ysidro Cougars, 5-1, in a play-in game to the main tournament while Poway defeated the 10th-seeded Sweetwater Red Devils, 11-2, and eighth-seeded Chula Vista edged the ninth-seeded Eastlake Titans, 3-2, in first-round games.
San Yisdro goaltender Mariano Mercado made 56 saves in the play-in loss.
Other top playoff leaders included Cathedral Catholic’s Henry Allen with 11 points, Cook and Cathedral Catholic’s Ben Rodenbeck with nine points, Lee with eight points and Chua and Fune each with seven points. Little led Poway in playoff scoring with six points.
— Phillip Brents
(June 17, 2020)