AHSHA teams advancing players to junior, college ranks
Some consider high school the best times of their lives.
Add in playing hockey for your high school and it’s the best of both worlds.
As AHSHA has grown over the years, so, too, have advancement opportunities for its standout players.
For the 2018-19 season, Robby Beck (Cactus Shadows, NA3HL’s Northeast Generals), Charlie James (Chaparral, University of Arizona ACHA), Stephen Kennedy (Horizon, USPHL’s Northern Cyclones) and Donovan Myers (Centennial, two WSHL teams, Arizona State ACHA) are four recent AHSHA graduates that are skating in junior or college hockey.
“I have very fond memories of playing Arizona high school hockey,” Myers said. “I enjoyed playing on the same team and under the same coach for all four years. My favorite part of playing high school hockey was meeting all the other players and the relationships that grew from being on that team. I also had the opportunity to play on Team Arizona my last two years of high school. Traveling to Pittsburgh and competing at a national level is something I’ll always cherish.
“I am still in touch with several of my high school teammates and although some of us may not see each other often, when we do it’s like no time has passed and the memories of good times flood back to us.”
After high school, Myers played two seasons in the Western States Hockey League for the Springfield Express and Oklahoma City Blazers.
A former senior captain at Chaparral, James said the postseason games for AHSHA are his highlights.
“Hands down, there is no better or cooler feeling than getting to wear your school colors in front of a large student section battling for the next round,” James said. “Win or lose, having your high school behind you and supporting you is indescribable. High school hockey provided me a platform to make friends for life, and I did just that. Despite being in different cities or states, I still check in on my old teammates and how they are doing. One of my favorite games to play each year is our high school alumni game. Being on the ice with all my old teammates is something I cherish every time I get the opportunity.”
Beck, playing this year in the Boston area, was part of the Cactus Shadows’ state title-winning team his freshman year, downing Notre Dame Prep in overtime.
“Nothing can beat the feeling of winning a game like that,” said Beck. “During my high school career, I was able to experience the growth AHSHA was able to make in just three years, and all of it was positive. I believe everything they’re doing is making hockey in Arizona more competitive and fun for the players and soon, we will see more players moving on to the next level from AHSHA.”
Kennedy also won a state championship as a freshman, helping Horizon defeat Hamilton. He’s playing juniors this season in New Hampshire.
“The bonds I made with my teammates on and off the ice from Horizon are unforgettable,” Kennedy said. “I also had the privilege of playing with Joe Smith, a senior forward my freshman year who unfortunately passed away the following summer, but I will never forget him and will always carry his memory with me whenever I put my helmet on and see the ‘JS33’ sticker.
“I believe that AHSHA hockey is both underrated and continuing to grow across the Valley. AHSHA offers great competition on the ice for players of every division. I know 100 percent that I have absolutely no regrets about joining AHSHA my freshman year and know that it helped me become a better hockey player over the years.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 26, 2019)