Las Vegas is becoming a hockey city.
The NHL awarded Vegas a franchise starting next season, and this spring, the Pacific District Youth Tier I 15 and 16U District Tournament came to the Las Vegas Ice Center March 9-12.
“We’ve had very positive discussions with the new NHL organization in terms of youth development and we look forward to continued growth in that market,” Pacific District Director Kris Knauss said.
“It went great, it really did,” said Scott Allegrini, Las Vegas Ice Center director of hockey operations. “I know everybody with the district was really happy with everything we were able to do and with what we accomplished with the event.”
Allegrini said the tournament had big crowds, especially for the semifinal and championship games. The rink, which has two sheets of ice and is located seven miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, ran a learn-to-play program a few weeks earlier, and some families decided to buy tickets for the district tournament.
“There’s a great buzz in town for any kind of hockey right now,” Allegrini said. “That’s just going to keep getting stronger and stronger as we get closer to the Golden Knights drafting this team and making more signings. I think it’s just going to keep growing and to have something like that with USA Hockey definitely is beneficial for us and the growth of our program.”
This is the second time Las Vegas has hosted the district tournament, and the first time since 2009. Having another venue for the Pacific District to hold the event bodes well for the future.
“I know the district is definitely looking to do more within the Vegas market because of the growth that it’s going to be having,” Allegrini said.
Youth Tier I
14U: Alaska Oilers
15: Alaska Oilers
16U: Anaheim Jr. Ducks
18U: Anaheim Jr. Ducks
Youth Tier II
14U: AHA North Stars
16U: Alaska Oilers
18U: Alaska Wolves
The Alaska Oilers program is on the rise.
The Oilers had their Youth Tier I 14U and 15U teams both win district tournament titles to advance to the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier I 14U & 15 National Championships in Scottsdale Arizona.
“I think it’s a big statement for Alaska hockey, because people don’t really give our Tier I programs up here much credit,” said Merit Waldrop. “The fact that we’re sending not one but two teams to the national tournament at the Tier I level is huge. It shows the direction our programs are going. I know it’s happened multiple times, but I don’t remember the last time we had two teams represent, especially with a year age difference. It’s showing we have a little bit of depth and that we do have the talent up here.”
Take a look at the 46-player roster that was announced March 14 for the U.S. National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp and it's clear there is plenty of hockey talent throughout the country, including way out west.
Four players from the Pacific District were chosen to participate, three from California and one from Alaska.
“We’re very excited to have four 2001 age-level players invited to the camp,” Knauss said. “It says a lot about the growth in the district and it also says a little bit about the diversity and competition.”
Earning a spot at the camp were: Ryan Johnson, Irvine, California, who plays for the Anaheim Junior Ducks 16U, Nicholas Kent, Ladera Ranch, California, who plays for the Delta Academy Elite 15U, Cam York, Anaheim Hills, California, who plays for Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Minnesota, and Jeffrey Bertrand of Anchorage, who plays for the Alaska Oilers 15U.
Johnson, Kent and York are all defensemen, while Bertrand is a forward.
“I think the development team has been very pleased with our development of 2001-born defensemen,” Knauss said. “Out of all the invitations, we probably have about a quarter of the invitations for the defensemen.”
Alaska Oilers 15U coach Merit Waldrop loved seeing his own player Bertrand make the roster. The coach saw plenty of talented players during the district tournament.
“To be honest, I think there’s more out there,” Waldrop said. “I saw some players on the California teams and some of our teams as well that are very, very good hockey players. I think the Pacific District’s just getting better and better.”
Having representation from the west is great for American hockey. Organizations in California are making a strong push to help the sport continue growing.
“I think even more so that ties into Anaheim building a new four-sheet facility as a practice facility; it’s a $100-million facility,” Knauss said. “Santa Barbara just opened up two sheets of ice this year and San Jose’s looking to expand, as is Washington State. Our youth hockey market in southern California has really taken off.”
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 22-26, 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|