TROY, Mich. -- Advancing to the USA Hockey National Championships is the ultimate goal for any youth hockey club, and for the San Jose Jr. Sharks 19U team, it’s easily the highlight among many road trips this season.
“This is our tenth trip, eight of them have been outside of California,” said head coach Bobby Long. “We have traveled to Calgary, Detroit, Rochester, New York and Boston, just to name a few, and every trip includes flying. We log numerous air miles every year and this year was no different.”
The team travels on commercial flights and tries to get the parents to come along for support, but it’s tough at various times of the year. On top of that, there are costs to be considered as well.
Another obstacle is the fatigue issue of jet lag for the girls.
“We work with them and we have a great group of girls,” said Long. “The girls are really great about it. They work hard in the gym when they are off the ice and give a great effort when it’s game time. As a coaching staff, we could not ask for more.”
When the trips are planned, the girls are ready and willing to compete and they battle in each game all the way down to the final whistle. After the game the girls return to their hotels and try to get some rest and relaxation.
The girls started the season back in July with a trip to the Boston Bean Town Classic, then over to Dallas in October. Towards the end of October, it was off to Detroit and the Nations Cup. From there, the girls traveled to the east coast and visited five colleges and then went to Rochester.
Long says the trips are tough but rewarding. “It makes for a very long season, but the experience the girls receive, especially playing against some elite teams in the country, is priceless.”
Just before the start of nationals, Team South Dakota suffered a major loss to one of their key forwards.
The injury cuts into the depth up front and the team had to make adjustments on the fly that they hoped would help them move forward at nationals.
“We found out on Monday, a few days before the start of the nationals that one of our girls had a bone procedure that did not go well,” said head coach Donovan Peterson. “So she is out this weekend and that really hurts us.”
Peterson runs three solid lines and the injury means that one of the girls that normally plays on the blue line will have to step in and play as a forward.
“Because of the injury losing one of our defensemen to the forward lines throws off our back end which puts us one short of a full lineup,” Peterson stated. “It makes a huge difference but we are adjusting here during the games at the nationals and things are going well this week so far.”
This is the second straight season that the team has advanced to the national championships.
“We have a great team and the girls really work hard,” Peterson said. “We are moving forward with no excuses, looking to win this week at the nationals.”
Team South Dakota made it to Sunday, but lost a 4-3 overtime heartbreaker to Ann Arbor.
The Sharks and Ann Arbor Cougars made it through the national semifinals to advance to the title game.
The Sharks beat Reston Raiders in the first round 7-1 and then advanced to the 19U title game following a semi-final win over the Steel City Selects.
The Cougars eliminated Team South Dakota 4-3 in the first round and then secured their ticket to the finals by shutting out the West Chester Quakers 2-0.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Youth Tier I (14U)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (16U, 18U)||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Pittsburgh Penguins Elite||April 6-10, 2017|
|Girls Tier I||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Women's A, B, C||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-9, 2017|
|High School||Cleveland, Ohio||Cleveland Suburban Hockey||March 30-April 3, 2017|
|Girls Tier II||Troy, Michigan||Troy Youth Hockey Association||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (14U)||Coral Springs, Florida||Florida Panthers Ice Den||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (16U)||Frisco, Texas||Texas Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (18U)||Lansing, Michigan||Lansing Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Sled||San Jose, California||Sharks Ice||April 6-9, 2017|
|Adult Rec Men's||Wesley Chapel, Florida||Florida Hospital Center Ice||April 20-23, 2017|
|Adult Rec Women's||Ellenton, Florida||Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex||April 27-30, 2017|