St. John Bosco’s Park reels in ADHSHL All-Star Game MVP
All-Star games serve as a platform to spotlight top talent.
Although his pedigree would indicate that surprise shouldn’t occur, Preston Park provided that shock-and-awe factor in the varsity game of the fifth annual Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) All-Star Showcase on Jan. 21 at Honda Center.
As the third period carried on and the lamp seemed to light up every other shift, it became clear that the St. John Bosco freshman was not out of his league. He was the star, picking up five points (one goal, four assists) as Team Black beat Team Orange, 10-3.
All-Star Game MVP as a freshman? Impressive, but yet again, not surprising. Why is that?
Park, 15, is the son of former NHL forward Richard Park. His father spent time with six NHL clubs – Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, New York Islanders, Philadelphia and Vancouver.
“I have to thank him so much,” Park said of his dad. “He got me into the game when I was very young. I moved around with him when he was playing pro. He’s helped me get to where I am today.”
After the family moved out to California, Park began playing with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings at the Pee Wee AA level. His next stop was Wildcats Hockey, where he currently plays on the 16U AAA team.
If his dad is one mentor, Park’s second is Tomas Kapusta. The two have worked together for six years. Kapusta coaches Park’s Wildcats team. He is also the head of the St. John Bosco program, now in its second year of existence.
Kapusta was a member of the 1994 Czech Republic Olympic team and later served as captain of the Long Beach Ice Dogs (West Coast Hockey League) from 2000-02.
Park has had his choice of established professionals to go to. He says that he has received sound advice in handling the expectations that can be levied on the children of former pros.
“They’ve said don’t worry about it,” Park noted. “It’s just something your parents did, and as you get older, you can use that to get better as your own player. I don’t think about it too much. I just try to have fun out there.”
Park says he focuses his efforts on being a good teammate and thanked his teammates for helping him receive the selection to the All-Star Game.
The Braves are exhibiting great cohesion this season, beginning the season a perfect 11-0-0 to lead the ADHSHL’s Division 3 standings. Park is the team’s scoring leader with 12 goals and 13 assists as of early February.
The ADHSHL also rolled out the red carpet for its inaugural senior game at the All-Star Showcase. It was certainly a welcome addition among the players, who have always appreciated the opportunity to play in an NHL rink.
The senior game played out like a regular-season game, with the game going down to the wire in a 4-3 final for Team Black over Team Orange.
JSerra’s Jake Lauricella was named the MVP of the game after collecting a goal and an assist, and saying after the game that the honor is “pretty special.”
He also described his two point-producing plays.
“I shot the puck off the goalie’s helmet and (Nathan Chavez/Corona-Norco) scored behind him,” Lauricella said of his assist. “On my goal, I just batted it out of the air, and it hit me right in my hand. I wasn’t sure if they were going to call it a goal or not, but they did.”
Lauricella is third on JSerra in scoring with eight goals and 14 assists entering mid-February. The Lions are having a stellar season, going 7-3-0-1 against the ADHSHL’s other Division 1 teams.
Los Alamitos’ Anthony DeMarco was the only other player with a multi-point game in the senior game, scoring two second-period goals for Team Orange.
In the junior varsity All-Star Game, Team Orange beat Team White 3-1 and Orange Lutheran’s Eric Slivkoff took home MVP honors.
— Story and photo by Andrew Turner