Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vacaville Squirt hockey wins third tournament title of season

VACAVILLE, Calif. – The Vacaville Jets Squirt B hockey team has once again brought home a first place trophy in tournament play, winning the Wine Country Face Off in Santa Rosa over President’s Day weekend. This is the third California tournament that the team has won this season, also taking first in the Pacific Regionals of the International Silver Stick Invitational in San Jose in November and winning their home tournament in January, the Second Annual MLK I-80 hockey tournament.

“I cannot tell you how proud we are of the team’s performance this year,” said parent and Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “We’re in first place in the Norcal Youth Hockey League with only one loss in regular season play and we’ve won every California tournament we’ve entered so far this season. On top of that, we were good enough to earn a trip to Pelham, Ontario, Canada in January to play in an international hockey tournament, so we couldn’t have asked for more out of this great group of kids.”

The Vacaville Jets Bantam team (14 and under) also placed first at the Wine Country Face Off, with the Jets Mite team (8 and under) playing in the championship game and coming in second. The next tournament for the Squirts, who are nine and ten year olds, is the Norcal Championship playoffs on March 21 and 22. If they place within the two top teams during that contest they will travel to Escondido, Calif. to play against the top southern California teams for the state championship at the Squirt B level.

Hockey ‘culture’

(For Rubber Magazine's Parental Guidance – March 2009)

As a native of Michigan I know what it’s like to scrape eight inches of snow and ice off my car and make the long drive to an ice rink in a snowstorm, praying that my kid’s hockey game isn’t cancelled due to inclement weather once I get there. I also know what it’s like to spend days as a kid playing eight hour pond hockey sessions with my friends. These experiences helped to instill the “hockey culture” into me, a phenomenon common in the Midwest and other frozen climes.

But do we have a true “hockey culture” here in California? We can’t play outdoors and don’t have to endure snowstorms and below freezing temperatures to get to our games. A far less common sport here, most of our kids are the only ones at school who play ice hockey, with few friends outside of their teammates who can even relate to the sport. So how do we compare to more well-known hockey states?

California hockey families still endure early morning and late evening practices every week for six months out of the year just like our eastern counterparts. We too curse our alarm clocks for waking us out of blissful Saturday morning slumber so we can drive two hours to play 7 a.m. games. Similarly, we caravan to tournament weekends full of back-to-back games, sessions at the pool, and knee hockey marathons in the hallway. And most importantly, we write the same endless checks and nearly melt our credit cards swiping them to pay for premium ice time, new equipment, and the myriad of other expenses our favored sport brings with it.

Living the culture is more a mind set than a geographical phenomenon. When our California boys beat some good Canadian hockey clubs at a recent Ontario tournament, many of the coaches and parents of those teams were flabbergasted. This to them was the ultimate insult, not only to be beaten by Americans, but to have them come from a state known more in their minds for surfing than for hockey.

I take a lot of satisfaction in that reaction. Despite the fact that we have fewer rinks and kids playing ice hockey here, it means we’ve still managed to create our own successful “hockey culture” here in the Golden State, and for that we should be proud.

Jets host successful home tournament

(For March 09 Rubber Magazine)

Vacaville, Calif. -- The Vacaville Jets had a good showing as hosts of the Second Annual MLK I-80 Tournament over the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Weekend, with all of their teams advancing to the finals at the Mite, Squirt, and Midget levels. Thirteen teams from Northern California and Oregon competed in the event.

In probably the tightest division, the Jets Squirt B squad narrowly beat the Tri-Valley Blue Devils A team by a score of 4-3 from a winning shot by Reidar Burgeson with only 5.7 seconds to win the championship game. Every single one of the Squirt players for the Jets contributed points to help them go undefeated during the weekend.

At the Midget level, the Jets won each of their games, beating the South Oregon Stars 9-4 to take home the first place trophy. Standing out for the Jets was Midget Chris Whitten with 15 goals, 8 assists, and 16 penalty minutes in the tournament’s 5 games. The Jets’ Mite squad also fared well, coming in second to the champion Fresno Falcons in a closely played 6-4 decision in the final game.

“We’re really happy with the turnout we had this year and the way our teams played,” said Tournament Chair Tiana Burgeson. “We grew participation with this season’s tournament, adding the Midget level for the first time, and hope to grow again next year by having competition at every level including Pee Wee and Bantam.”