IHAAZ season rolling on as second half of season on tap
The IHAAZ season has reached the midway point of the season and each division has its share of interesting storylines.
The 8U division is owned by the Knighthawks, at least for the time being. They have won all three festivals to date, but the Prescott Storm has used the festivals as learning experiences.
At the festival in Yuma over the Feb. 9-11 weekend at Kennedy Memorial Park, the Storm got as close to beating the Knighthawks as anyone, falling 7-5 in their head-to-head showdown.
It’s possible the two teams will battle it out again in tightly contested games during the second half of the season.
Sam Koch and was the division leader heading into Yuma, having tallied 31 points. Hunter Matthews and Landon Jans are also having solid seasons. Declan Yates of the Knighthawks and Zach Turner of the Storm have been impressive in goal during the first half.
The Knighthawks Green team has dominated the 10U division, having not lost a game all year. The Knighthawks have won most of their games via the 8-0 mercy rule. The Wildcats sit in second place and won’t go down without a fight in the battle for the division title. They’ve been competitive against the Knighthawks thanks to the play of Eli Shulman and could be in a position to win a state title in May. The Knighthawks Green team is led by Brandon Gorzynski, who has tallied 58 points in three festivals. Reece Curry has dominated in goal for the Knighthawks Green, stopping more than 82 percent of the shots he has faced.
The Knighthawks and Wildcats have battled it out for the top spot in the 12U division and as of mid-February, the Wildcats lead the division. The two teams will meet two more times during the festival season and those matchups will help determine how the division race plays out. Dominik Barber has been a key to the Wildcats’ success, tallying more than 40 points on the season.
In the 14U Division, the Royals have emerged as the team to beat, remaining perfect through three festivals. Their depth has been key to their success as they feature a roster with 12 players, although only 4-7 players show up for each festival due to various conflicts with the ice hockey teams that their players are on.
Despite who shows up, though, they are ready to go for the Royals and that has kept the team at the top of the standings.
The Tucson Wildcats have played the Royals close in all three of their meetings but haven’t quite been able to knock the off. Oren Strohm is one of the reasons why. He has been the Royals’ most impressive scorer in the two festivals he has played in this season.
The Midget Division is the largest in IHAAZ this season and no doubt, the most competitive as well. The Royals Blue and White teams are among the contenders, as is the Yuma Black team. Yuma Black came out of the most recent festival as owners of the top spot in the division with 26 points. The Royals White have 19 points and the Royals Blue has 18 as a lot is still left to be decided.
The Northern Arizona Yeti, along with the Yuma Red and Knighthawks, have been competitive at times, never going down without a fight. The Yeti actually jumped into fourth place after the most recent festival.
From an offensive standpoint, Logan Estes of the Yuma Black has been the standout. He has come through with more than 35 points on the year, and no other player is even close to catching him. Yuma Black also has great goaltending with Rhett Teeter between the pipes. He has saved nearly 90 percent of the shots he has faced this season.
— Brian Lester
(Feb. 26, 2018)