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High School Notebook: High School nationals a success on and off ice

By By Alain Poupart - Special to, 03/25/13, 4:15PM MDT


CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — The Iceplex, which serves as the Florida Panthers’ training facility, earned high marks as the host for the 2013 USA Hockey High School Boys’ Varsity National Championships.

“It’s just been a fantastic event,” said Bob Mathson, the director of the high school section for USA Hockey. “The Florida folks have done a fantastic job behind the scenes and even up front in putting this together. It’s a tremendous facility. They’ve taken care of everybody extremely well. We have another benchmark for Omaha next year to try and reach and surpass. And I think that’s going to happen.”

Omaha, Neb., will serve as the host site for the 2014 tournament, which is scheduled for March 27-30.

Famous puck drop

Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss, the franchise’s all-time assists leader, dropped the ceremonial puck before the championship game between Santa Margarita (Calif.) and Regis Jesuit (Colo.) on Sunday.

Weiss, a first-round pick of the Panthers in the 2001 NHL Draft, is out for the season after undergoing wrist surgery a few weeks ago.

Close but so far

Regis Jesuit made it to the final for the second consecutive year, but coach Dan Woodley had to watch from the stands.

The school is part of the Colorado High School Activities Association, which has a rule preventing coaches from having contact with players on Sundays.

“Makes me sick to my stomach,” Woodley said of not being able to coach. “It was devastating. Coaches should do most of their coaching in practices and have their teams prepared, but I’m sitting up in the stands and noticing things occurring out there that I would love to comment on and let the boys know what might be a better way to have success. So it’s just making me sick to my stomach that we weren’t able to take advantage of some of the things that we were seeing.”

In Woodley’s place, club coach Tony Nowicki and James O’Neil, the father of defenseman Jack O’Neil, were behind the bench.

Scoring leaders

East Lake (Fla.) failed to advance to the championship round, but forward Austin Teall still led all scorers in pool play with a whopping nine goals and 13 points in three games.

After scoring four goals in East Lake’s 15-8 victory against John Jay (N.Y.), Teall then had five of his team’s six goals in losses to eventual champion Santa Margarita and the Jesuit Rangers (Texas).

In the championship round, Santa Margarita’s Branden Vara and Brian Desmond shared the scoring lead with Austin Jackson of Waterloo (Iowa), all with six points.

Iowa teams shine in pool play

The only two teams to make it out of pool play with the maximum of nine points (three regulation victories) were the two schools from the state of Iowa — the Waterloo Warriors and the Des Moines Oak Leafs.

While the Oak Leafs suffered a 2-1 loss against Medina (Ohio) in the quarterfinals, Waterloo overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat Plano West (Texas) 6-3 in the quarters before losing to eventual champion Santa Margarita 8-4 in the semis.

Waterloo had reached the final last year before losing to Regis Jesuit 4-3. But after losing 10 key players off last year’s team, Waterloo coach Doug Dietz still was happy with his team’s showing.

“I’m very, very pleased,” he said. “I kind of kicked the dirt prior to the season because I lost my goaltender and a couple of my big defensemen, and my wife said, ‘Hey, you’re a coach, you’ve got to figure this out and coach these kids.’ I hate to say that, I listened to her one time, and I did. It was fun. These kids matured and they learned a lot this year.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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