Knights end ’18-19 season winning LAKHSHL, CAHA titles
March 16 proved to be a truly special day for the Kern County Knights, and just when they thought they had reached the top of the mountain, they found another peak to ascend a little more than a week later.
The Knights captured the L.A. Kings High School Hockey League (LAKHSHL) championship with a 5-3 victory over the Burbank Cougars at STAPLES Center, and defeated the Cougars again 5-0 on March 24 in the California Amateur Hockey Association Division 2B high school title game at Valencia Ice Station.
The pair of banners they took home capped off what was truly a remarkable campaign for the Knights.
“It was a great season, and I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish, both for ourselves and for Bakersfield, because we’re kind of secluded here far away from the rest of the teams in the league,” said Knights head coach Paul Willett. “This was a truly memorable experience. Having fallen short before in our quest to win the league championship, it was definitely special this year to get that done at STAPLES Center.”
The LAKHSHL championship was particularly sweet for the Knights, who had played in the title game each of the league’s first three seasons and came up short. The fourth time proved to be the charm, however. They went 21-0 against LAKHSHL opponents, including the postseason.
The Knights’ roster this season included Joshua Schmitz, Jacob Chaddick, Nickolas Friedenberg, Brady Nance, Cade Moxham, Jarred Smith, Chris Lawson, Noah Carpenter, Kiel Nance, Tyler Smith, David Smith, Jacob Gagnon, Emille Rodrigue, Carter Chupa, Chaz Catallo, Logan Mears and Josh Scott. Josh Nance and Marty Raymond served as assistant coaches on Willett’s staff.
“We preached all year long that these types of opportunities don’t come along very often,” Willett said. “We wanted to have a complete year, and we definitely accomplished the goals that we set out to achieve.”
The South County Panthers (above) won the junior varsity championship.
During the festivities surrounding the varsity and JV championship games, the league also announced its individual awards for the 2018-19 season, and it came as no surprise that the Knights were well-represented on the list. Jacob Gagnon was named the league’s Wayne Gretzky Most Valuable Player. David Smith earned the Rogie Vachon Goaltender of the Year award, Kiel Nance took home the Marcel Dionne Top Scorer Award, and Cade Moxham was named the Luc Robitaille Freshman of the Year. Additionally, Willett earned Darryl Sutter Coach of the Year honors.
Other players honored included the Burbank Cougars’ Matthew Brownwell (Rob Blake Defenseman of the Year), Harrison Del Bonis of the Santa Barbara Royals (Dave Taylor Leadership and Sportsmanship Award) and the East County Outlaws’ Ryan Delichte (Senior Scholarship Award).
Each team in the Kings League will hold tryouts for the 2019-20 season in May and June: Burbank Cougars at Pickwick Rink (Varsity May 30, 8:30-9:30 p.m.; JV June 1, 4:15-5:15 p.m.), East County Outlaws at Simi Valley Iceoplex (Varsity June 1, 5:15-6:15 p.m.; JV June 2, 10:15-11:15 a.m.), El Segundo Strikers at Toyota Sports Center (Varsity May 28, 7:45-8:45 p.m.; JV June 1, 8:30-9:30 a.m.), Kern County Knights at Bakersfield Ice (Varsity May 28, 8 p.m.; JV May 29, 8 p.m.), Newbury Park Panthers at Simi Valley Iceoplex (Varsity June 1, 6:30-7:30 p.m.; JV June 2, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), Santa Barbara Royals at Ice in Paradise (Varsity May 29, 6 p.m.; JV May 30, 6 p.m.), South Bay Stingrays at Toyota Sports Center (Varsity May 29, 7:45-8:45 p.m.; JV June 2, 5:15-6:15 p.m.), West Ranch Wildcats at Ice Station Valencia (Varsity May 29, 6:45-7:45 p.m.; JV June 1, 4:45-5:45 p.m.).
— Greg Ball
(April 26, 2019)