Arizona Rubber

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First-year 16U, 18U Flagstaff programs making major strides

 

Flagstaff Northstars

When the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association (FYHA) created 16U and 18U travel teams for the 2016-17 season, the organization ventured into the relative unknown as FYHA had not had these age groups in the past decade.

Now with the calendar flipped to 2017, FYHA board member Bill Kuche said he’s been pleased with the inaugural run of the Northstars’ 16U and 18U squads.

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“We certainly have not been disappointed and everything has gone as expected,” said Kuche. “These kids are playing in a competitive Tier II league and I can honestly say that both coaches have done a tremendous job with these kids and are developing these kids not only as better hockey players, but into young men and fine citizens as well.”

Nick Karastamatis heads up the 18U team and also serves as the FYHA’s Midget coordinator. Zach Fader coaches the 16U group and played for the Northstars as a youth before playing AAA for PF Chang’s and then college hockey at Northern Arizona University.

“As an organization, we aren’t worried about wins and losses, but rather how the kids are developing and I can’t say it enough how Nick and Zach are developing these kids,” Kuche said. “These kids are dedicated and work extremely hard on and off the ice and even take the time to come help out our 6U and 8U coaches during those practices. They really believe in our program.”

And with this season breeding growth and success, Kuche said he expects the numbers for each team to be the same next season, what with Flagstaff having a limited player pool.

“Again, the fact we have these two teams comes from the coaching leadership,” said Kuche. “They have the knowledge to make these kids better, both on and off the ice.”

— Matt Mackinder