St. Mary’s enjoying inaugural season, on and off the ice in Stockton
When St. Mary’s High School announced plans to start a new high school hockey program for the 2018-19 season, it seemed like the perfect move for the Northern California town of Stockton.
The city already has the AHL’s Stockton Heat and the Stockton Colts youth association, but the high school program was looked at as a viable option for players to play a high level of hockey without having to commute to Southern California.
So far, so good.
And the Rams are making noise off the ice, too.
Towards the end of 2018, the hockey team held a reverse raffle, a fundraiser spearheaded by St. Mary’s general manager Rick Pelascki.
In a reverse raffle, every ticket in the raffle pool is drawn and the winner of the raffle is the individual whose ticket number corresponds with the final ticket drawn from the pool. Reverse raffles are a popular activity for charity events.
The St. Mary’s raffle had two prizes – a six-person, one-day plane ride from Stockton to Monterey and back and also a cash prize.
“We limited the tickets to only 125 people, and we gave away $5000 at the end of the night,” said Pelascki, also the Colts president. “The plane ride raffle raised $3500 for us. Overall, we did very well. The end result was about $5500-6000 after we paid for the dinners and drinks.”
Truth be told, Pelascki made the connection with St. Mary’s and Rams coach Derek Eisler.
“I go back seven or eight years with Derek and with me as president of the Colts and Derek the director, that’s how we got put together,” Pelascki said. “The school came to me wanting to know about hockey and all the particulars about hockey. They’d been wanting to do it for a while, but they didn’t have a coach. That’s when I got Derek involved, one thing led to another, and here we are.”
Now past the midway point of the season, St. Mary’s is in the home stretch of NAHL Prep and Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League play.
Pelascki said he’s been thrilled with how the season has gone to this point for St. Mary’s.
“I go to practice almost every day and to be honest, they’re coming along,” said Pelascki. “We have a young, young team and a short bench, but we’re doing pretty well. They’ve been in every game and even though you might look at the scores and it looks like they got blown out, it was late in the game and the players were fatigued a little bit and the wheels came off the wagon a little bit.
“For the most part, they’re in every game, and hopefully, they can start winning some of the close games here in the second half.”
Looking ahead, Pelascki said he’s excited for not only what has already transpired, but for what the future holds.
“From both ends, everyone is working very hard to make this thing work,” Pelascki said. “I would think that we’ll look back at this in five years and be amazed at what we’ve created. We’re hoping to be a place for kids to go that don’t want to leave California to play hockey. Scholastically, St. Mary’s is one of the best schools in all of California, great alumni program, and they’ve been here more than 100 years.
“The foundation is pretty good and down the road, we’d like to add a couple more teams and an all-girls team. That’s what we’re looking to do, but like everything else, you have to crawl before you can walk and have to walk before you run.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 24, 2019)