Slew of California talents choose future college, junior destinations
With the offseason comes players deciding where to play college hockey next season.
Players from California have recently committed to play NCAA hockey for the 2019-20 season, with Sam Anzai (Los Angeles, Wisconsin-River Falls), Jared Christy (Cypress, University of New England, Los Angeles Jr, Kings alum) and Gregg Lee (Aliso Viejo, Fredonia State University, Anaheim Jr. Ducks, California Wave, Orange County Hockey Club) all set to hit Division III campuses soon.
In addition, Jr. Kings graduate Trey Bagwell has committed to River Falls, another former Jr. King, Zane Rowan, signed with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Regina Pats, and former San Jose Jr. Sharks’ 18U AAA standouts Kaigen Douglass (Eastern Hockey League’s Connecticut Chiefs) and Ben Greenlee (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Estevan Bruins) are moving up.
Anzai skated on the blue line last season with the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Jamestown Rebels and tallied 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 57 games. He also chipped in one goal in five Robertson Cup Playoff games.
Christy, a forward, was traded in the NAHL this season, going from the Odessa Jackalopes to the Austin Bruins while compiling 21 goals and 50 points in 60 games.
“The NAHL is one of the best junior hockey leagues to play in, and me playing in two different divisions really taught me a lot of things and improved my game in a big way,” Christy said. “Austin is a great place to play junior hockey, and I had a blast in that town for the four months I was there. Not only were my teammates and coaches amazing, but the fans and community were welcoming and caring.”
Lee played for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines last year, going for 14 goals and 14 assists in 55 games while adding a goal and an assist in four playoff games.
“The whole college process has been a lot of stress but now that it’s over, it feels great,” Lee said. “I just liked how welcoming the program is, and the coach (Jeff Meredith) made me feel like I was a part of the program before I committed. It’s nice that I have some family in Ontario near the Buffalo area. It’s nice to be close to some family that I don’t get to see too often.”
Bagwell tallied 13 goals and 34 points in 58 games up front last year for the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls. He added two assists in 13 playoff games.
Douglass, a Fremont native, joins Matthew Valdez and Jake Maley as players who have signed in the EHL. He scored one goal in 31 games last season from the back end.
“We are thankful for the development the Jr. Sharks have provided Kaigen and the rest of his peers,” said Maiko Douglass, Kaigen’s mother. “We are also thankful for all of Coach (Matt) Guffey‘s work to promote Kaigen to the next level.”
“Thank you to the coaching staff, my teammates and my family for helping me get to this point,” added Greenlee, a San Jose native. “The Jr. Sharks program has been great for my development and preparation for junior hockey. Not only was I able to develop physically on the ice but also mentally to prepare for the next level.”
Greenlee posted a 3.21 goals-against average and a .878 save percentage in 28 games last season.
The Regina Pats took Rowan, a Torrance native (pictured), in the third round (61st overall) of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft back on May 2.
“This is an exciting day,” said Pats VP of hockey operations and general manager John Paddock. “Zane is a good player and to have him commit to the Pats is big for our team going forward.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Aug. 1, 2019)