AHU kicks off season with successful Labor Day Weekend
Each year in Arizona when Labor Day rolls around, all hockey families in the Valley know what that means – the Arizona Youth Hockey League pre-season seeding tournament begins.
This year, the tournament was held for the 12U and 10U levels at AZ Ice Gilbert, Arcadia Ice Arena and Ice Den Chandler from Sept. 1-4 and the gritty, emotional and skillful displays of hockey did not disappoint.
The Arizona Hockey Union (AHU) entered multiple teams at the 10U and 12U level.
“We played well this past weekend, putting 139 shots on goal and only eight goals against, while posting two shutouts,” explained 10U Purple coach Shawn Babin. “Having 11 players returning this season, and their development to this point, this season holds high expectations. Their dedication and hard work this weekend has us excited for the season.”
Head coach Bryan O’Sullivan of the 12U Gray team was happy with that team’s performance as well.
“This is the first year of travel hockey for half of the players,” said O’Sullivan. “The team quickly came together, more experienced players showing the new players what to do, and their level of effort and confidence grew game after game. We finished 2-2 with everyone contributing. Our biggest loss brought out something special in this team that has me really looking forward to getting the season started.”
Nick Mabe, who coaches the 12U Purple squad, said of the weekend: “Overall, the first weekend was a success. The Pee Wee Purple team played hard and worked together. What was most exciting for me was how quickly the team is coming together. They were supportive and cheering for each other all weekend. I love the positive attitude and comradery they showed. We are looking forward to a fun season.”
Coach Jim Pinti of the 12U Black team was also pleased regarding how his team played.
“We outscored our opponents 15-3 and outshot them 126-45,” Pinti said. “That is great to see for a team that remains largely unchanged from last year. With 11 of 16 players returning from last year’s team, this year’s outlook and expectations are very high for this of talented and hard-working group.”
As their older brothers and sisters were in action at home, AHU Mite White competed in the Tinseltown Labor Day Tournament in Los Angeles, entering in two divisions, Mite A and Mite B.
“The expectation going into the weekend was to work hard, listen, and have fun and that’s just what they did,” said coach Bruce Willis.
The Mite A squad posted a 7-1 record during the round robin portion and Mite B posted a perfect 5-0 record. Both squads played in their respective championships with Mite A coming out on the short end of the scoreboard 7-6, despite making an epic comeback from a 6-1 deficit. With gutsy goaltending, hard-nosed offense, and bend-but-don’t-break defense, Mite White gave a great effort and a fantastic weekend of hockey.
For the Mite B team (pictured), despite being the No. 1 seed, the team never faltered in their quest to the title. Amazing offense, defense, and goaltending allowed Mite B to dominate their group and cruise to their first title of the year. Mite B’s relentless offensive attack allowed the kids to be creative and show off their skills as the coaching staff believes they have. The coaching staff saw great things from their squad over the weekend, especially when all players and parents of each team were in attendance for the other teams’ games showing great support and team loyalty to what they all consider to be “family.”
In addition, the Pee Wee White, coached by Jeremy Scofield, and Erik Brown’s Squirt Black team went undefeated on the weekend.
The extended holiday weekend was full of battles and competing, with old teammates reconnecting and new teammates finding their place within their teams. Coaches, parents and players all came together as a team to help make the first of many tournaments this season a resounding success.
— Bryan O’Sullivan