Bobcats’ new Tier II teams finding immediate success
The Arizona Bobcats have been a program under construction this season, but it’s not only their new home at Ice Den Chandler that has changed.
The Bobcats have also added Tier II teams at the 16U and 14U levels, and they’re off to a strong start representing the program at the Tier II level.
Tim Newlin, the head coach of the Bobcats’ new 16U Tier II team, said the program was able to add teams at that level this season for the first time because interest has increased and there were finally enough players to field full squads.
“Both teams are a work in progress and with the Bobcats, the focus has always been on development first, but it has been nice to see them be successful to start the season,” Newlin said. “If the development is coming, then success in the form of winning games usually follows.”
The Bobcats’ 16U team entered January with a 15-7-2 record with an 8-2-1 mark and a third-place standing in the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association. Coached by Newlin and assistant Brett Manning, the squad includes forwards Quentin Kennicker, Austin Gloyd, Kellen Nickel, Nicolas DelliBovi, Christopher Vo, Jonathan Gualtiere, NJ Warshaw, Noah Steinman, Chase Keating, Carter Newlin and Tyler Ihling; defensemen Spencer Craig, Samuel Stipe, Ben Warshaw, Dylan DeLisle, Jonathan Ellwanger, Brad Hughes and Connor Manning; and goalies Hayden Manning and Tristan Konieczny.
Their biggest success so far has been bringing home a championship banner from the Pittsburgh Winter Classic tournament in early December (pictured). In four games, 10 of the team’s 15 skaters scored goals, with 12 players recording points. Gloyd and Carter Newlin each totaled three goals in the tournament, while Ihling and Steinman each tallied two lamp-lighters.
“A lot of these kids on the two teams knew each other, but had never really played together before,” Newlin said. “So it took us some time as coaches to evaluate strengths and weakness and for the kids to learn about each other and slowly become a team.
“Winning the tournament in Pittsburgh has definitely been a highlight of our season so far, but our main goal is to really be playing at our best for the playdowns in February and March. That’s the top of the hill that we’re trying to reach.”
The 14U Tier II team is coached by Dillon Shaffer, Jeff Alexander and Cameron Corley. Its roster includes Erich Florence, Hudson Wernle, Brendon Wingler, Marcello Lane, Kelly Carroll, Isaac Yurkanin, Micahlind Pelletier, Hayden Stott, Ethan Jim, Preston Farr, Logan Tinney, Connor Perdue, Jackson Dow, Ajay Schiller, Jackson Binazeski, Matthew Duffy, Ryan Jim and Ryan Caputo. The squad was just 2-8 as the calendar flipped to 2019 but was seeing some marked improvement.
While the 14U team didn’t get off to as strong a start as the program’s older Tier II squad, it has made the types of strides in player development that portend positive things to come.
“That’s what it’s all about – developing these kids’ skills at this age,” Shaffer said. “It’s all about building that foundation to build on. That’s where we have placed our emphasis. It’s more of a long-term mindset – the focus is on preparing them for playing 16U hockey. We try to stay away from the cliché ‘peak by Saturday’ approach that puts so much importance on winning games.
“Each drill we do in practice is selected based on the skills we want these kids to be learning, and we’re always looking 2-3 years down the road. Because of that, the ultimate gauge of success is not necessarily wins and losses. It can seem a little thankless at times because you really don’t see the fruits of your labor until years down the road.”
— Greg Ball
(Feb. 1, 2019)