Mission AZ inducts eight into program’s Hall of Fame
Each August for the past seven years, Mission Arizona has taken time to honor its past while simultaneously looking toward the future.
The program opened its Mission Hall of Fame back in 2010 and in its first six years, inducted 47 male and female players and coaches. On Aug. 13, that number grew to 55, as eight new players received Mission’s highest honor and were inducted into the program’s Hall.
Nick Acevedo, Jack Allen, Chris Carouchi, David Kaplan, Jeremy Kurek, Rob Swartz and Chase Smith were inducted as the Class of 2016, and Charlie Price was honored posthumously. The Hall includes Mission alumni who played for the program for three or more years and went on to play either junior or college hockey.
“These young men represent the best of what Mission is,” said Jeremy Goltz, the director of hockey operations for Mission AZ. “This has been a tradition to honor players who have represented our jersey and gone on to achieve great things.
“It is important that our current players understand their history and our program’s sense of tradition. It opens our season every year and links the past to the present. I am so proud of these guys and want to make sure that they are not only honored for their achievements, but that we give our current players great examples to use as role models.”
Acevedo played for Mission AZ from 2013-15 and has gone on to play for the South Muskoka Shield of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League (GMHL) in Gravenhurst, Ont. Allen wore a Mission AZ sweater from 2011-15 and has since played for the Vermont Lumberjacks in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MetJHL).
Carouchi played for the Arizona Hawks of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) after three seasons with Mission AZ from 2013-15. Kaplan parlayed his time with Mission AZ from 2012-15 into a roster spot with the University of Denver playing ACHA hockey.
Kurek, a 2013-15 member of the Mission program, has played for the Hampton Roads Whalers of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) and the Colorado Rampage in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL). Swartz had two stints with Mission AZ, from 2010-11 and 2014-15, and now plays Division I ACHA hockey for the University of Pittsburgh.
Smith played with Mission AZ from 2012-2015 and has gone on to skate with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers in the USPHL and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers in the EHL. Price was a member of the Mission AZ family from 2007-11 and passed away in March while studying toward a PhD in chemistry at the University of Utah.
The players being inducted into the Hall of Fame wrote about their experiences with Mission in a program handed out to all attendees at the ceremony, and raved about their experiences wearing the red and white.
“Coming to Mission, my first season of 16s, I would’ve never thought I’d be given the amount of great opportunities that I had,” Allen wrote. “Between going around the country playing top AA teams and visiting places such as Shattuck Saint Mary’s, it really makes you grow not only as a hockey player, but as a person. The pace was pushed every practice by the coaches and the boys, which got me to where I am today. Some of the greatest moments I cherish were because of Mission and the great program Coach Goltz runs.”
The Hall of Fame induction was preceded by an alumni game in which approximately 40 former players suited up in Mission AZ sweaters and reconnected on the ice with their old teammates and players who came before or after them.
“We wanted to give all those guys a chance to come back home and be honored as well,” Goltz said. “They have made us what we are today.”
– Greg Ball