Youth hockey continues to thrive in the desert with another team advancing to action on a national stage. And this local team is crossing the border to represent the East Valley next month.
The Valley of the Sun Hockey Association’s Mustangs will be playing Jan. 10-13 in Pelham, Ontario, Canada, at the A/E International Finals, an event which dates back to 1958.
The 13- and 14-year-olds began league play in October and will play through March.
“We have a core group of about six or seven who have been playing together since they were Squirts,” coach Gary Swanson said. “We are playing up a level at the local level in the A league to try and make our team stronger and so far it has worked.”
The Mustangs won their eight-team Bantam 'B’ division of the Pacific District U.S. Regional Silver Stick Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend in San Jose, Calif., to earn the berth north of the border. The squad outscored its opponents 19-3 with a 3-1 record while in San Jose.
“It was very exciting for our kids to win this tourney,” team manager Kim Burkovich said. “The Silver Stick tourney has a long history, and we are the first Arizona 'B’ team ever to qualify for the (tournament in Pelham).”
That qualifier was one of 16 tournaments held throughout the U.S. and Canada. Some of the division finals take place in Michigan, while other division finals occur in Canada just on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
“The players/kids have really already exceeded my expectations by getting to nationals,” Swanson said of his group. “Our season is going very well, going to a national tournament is awesome.”
Swanson doesn’t have unrealistic expectations of his team, which is 4-6 in its association.
“We are going there to win, but I know we will face some tough competition,” he said. “It’s an honor just to make it there. We are going for the experience of it all as well. Not many teams ever get to the Silver Stick finals. I was told one in 500 teams makes it.”
The Mustangs are: Nick Amino, Connor Arendts, Mitchell Bobman, Kyle Burkovich, Eric Calcavecchia, Jimmy Caravella, Michael Carrier, Michael Christianson, Josh Daniel, Matt Davis, Evan DeForest, Nick Down, Jesse Esposito, Jake Geiwitz, Tyler Kendall, Josh Kleinholz, Trevor Smith, Steven Swanson and David Volkmann.
“So far the kids have shown great work ethic and a drive to want to do well,” Swanson said. “That’s what I ask for. You never give up and play until the final buzzer of the third period.”
The Phoenix Firebirds bantam major 'A’ team won their Silver Stick tournament, Oct. 5-8 in Dallas for the chance to compete for the national title Jan. 24-27, in Port Huron, Mich.
THEY DID IT AGAIN
For the third year in a row Chandler-based Desert Lights Gymnastics’ level 6 gymnasts won the state compulsory team title in the competition held last month at Chandler High School.
Nine gymnasts tumbled to individual gold at level 5/6 events. Six of the girls live in Gilbert, one is from Chandler and two are from Ahwatukee Foothills.
Nicole Baker, 11, of Gilbert not only won every event in level 6 competition, she scored 38.55 out of 40 points for the top score of the weekend.
Level 5 gymnast Madelyn Probst, 8, of Chandler also won every event and accrued the second-highest score of the competition with 38.25 points.
Other Gilbert gymnasts who brought home gold were 9-year-old Zoe Martin, who won bars and the all-around title for level 6; 9-year-old Courtney Loper (level 6 vault), 9-year-old Elizabeth Snoddy, (level 5 floor event), 9-year-old Jordan Wagner (level 5) and 11-year-old Dylan Wilson (level 6 vault).
The Ahwatukee Foothills title winners were Tara Catour, 9, who won the floor event for level 6 and Vanessa Davis, 10, who won bars and all-around for level 6.
Desert Light’s level 5 gymnasts finished second in the team competition.
Arizona Disabled Sports, which evolved from Mesa Association of Sports for the Disabled, offers year-round activities, seminars and programs for people of all ages with special needs.
And even though “Let No One Sit On The Sidelines,” is not the group’s official motto, it follows that philosophy.
Several events are fast approaching as well as deadline for registration.
The PowerBlast Power Soccer Tournament, for athletes ages 6 and older with a permanent physical disability, will be Jan. 10-12 at Arizona State University’s Student Recreation Complex.
Registration deadline is Wednesday and additional information/forms can be found at www.arizonaadisabledsports.com under “Special Events” or contact Lane Jeppesen at (480) 835-6273 or email@example.com.
Also on the horizon is the SkiAble Adaptive Alpine Experience, set for Feb 10-12. It is an annual learn-to-ski excursion to Sunrise Ski Park in Greer.
The event is also for athletes ages 6 through adult with a permanent physical disability, with scholarships available. Deadline for registration is Jan. 18. Visit the ADS Web site or contact Susan Byrne Rossi at (480) 644-5702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other 2008 events include the Desert Challenge Regional Games (aquatics, archery, bocci ball, track and field, wheelchair basketball and weightlifting) and the Desert Challenge Air Rifle and Pistol, both in April.
Tee time: The Youth Impacting Youth Golf Tournament to benefit the YiY Mentorship/Training Program is scheduled for an 8 a.m. shotgun start on Dec. 28 at Mesa’s Toka Sticks Golf Course (6910 E. Williams Field Road). Cost is $100 per player (includes greens fee, golf cart, free range balls, lunch and a gift bag). Early team registration (prior to Dec. 21) is $350, $450 after. Call (505) 216-7681 or visit www.yiyonline.org.
Pigskin passion: The Arizona Adrenaline will hold a one-day player tryout from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Scottsdale Community College (9000 E. Chaparral Road) for its 2008 professional indoor football season. Players must be at least 18 years old and bring workout shirts, shorts and spikes to the tryout. A $60 tryout fee is required. Those participating in the tryout will forfeit any future Division I college football eligibility. For information contact Dan Beeson at Azadrenaline@aol.com or (928) 713-2691.
Winter break camps: Toro Softball Christmas Camp at Mesa Mountain View High School is scheduled for Dec. 27-29 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for fourth-sixth grade and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for seventh- to ninth-graders. Cost is $60. Skill camps will be conducted on Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Cost is $20 per session or $60 for all four. Registration forms are available at www.mpsaz.org/mtnview or contact Coach Roberts at (480) 472-6969 for more information.
• Seton Catholic High School is the site for a baseball clinic from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 26-27, for seventh- to 12th-graders. Cost is $50. Checks should be made payable to Seton Catholic High School Athletic Department, c/o baseball clinic, 1150 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, AZ 85224 or call Bob Bitler at (480) 963-1900, Ext. 2020.
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