Mission AZ starts season with annual Hall of Fame inductions
The date Aug. 19 was a truly special day for Mission AZ, as the youth hockey program inducted seven new members into its prestigious Hall of Fame.
The eighth-annual event served as a way to honor some of the program’s top former players while also kicking off the 2017-18 season and helping continue to build Mission’s strong tradition of excellence.
“We induct guys from our program who made an impact and moved on to juniors or college,” said Mission AZ director of hockey operations Jeremy Goltz. “It’s sort of an opening ceremony for us, and it seems appropriate to kick off the year this way.”
Mission’s Hall of Fame grew to 62 members with the inductions of Andrew Aziz, Eddie Cannon, Alex Clover, Hunter Feagins, Michael Norris, Isaac Ritschel and David Zak.
The festivities started with an alumni game featuring approximately 45 players from Mission teams of the past. There was an on-ice ceremony for all the Hall of Fame inductees, and they were each presented with a Mission jersey with their name and number on the back.
“These guys have earned this recognition, and we want to honor them,” Goltz said. “But it’s also good for younger kids to get an idea of the history and the traditions of our program.”
Feagins is currently playing for the Gillette Wild in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). He played for Mission the final three seasons of his youth hockey career and said the experience truly shaped him as a hockey player and person.
“It’s a huge honor to have been a part of Mission and able to play for Coach Goltz – he is one of the last coaches who truly cares about your development, not just in the sport of hockey, but in life,” Feagins said.
He said some of the highlights of his time with the program included winning a Silver Stick banner and competing in USA Hockey Youth Nationals, and he thinks that last month’s Hall of Fame induction can serve as motivation for players currently in the program.
“I hope seeing us inducted inspires other as it did for me when I went to my first Hall of Fame induction,” Feagins said.
Cannon played in a Mission uniform for seven seasons and will lace up his skates with the NA3HL’s Oswego Stampede this winter. He looks back fondly on his time with the program and knows those years were influential in his hockey development.
“It means a lot to be inducted into the Mission Hall of Fame because I get to go in with the guys I grew up watching and looking up to in the program,” Cannon said. “Now, the younger kids are in the same spot I was in, and they look up to me – I want them to want to be on the wall with the rest of us and have that drive to get there and play the game as long as they can.
“I think the current players can take a lot from it just from listening to everyone and their stories. Mission is a family, and your teammates will be your best friends for life. Coach Goltz and all the other coaches are there to help better you as a person and a man, so you are prepared for anything that comes your way. Everyone in the organization cares for you and will invest their time in you because they see the potential you have.”
Goltz said nearly everything he does is with the intention of building on the traditions that he has established since Mission started, and the annual Hall of Fame induction is a huge part of that.
“I attribute a lot of our player retention to things like this,” he said. “It sort of sets the standard.”
— Greg Ball
(Sept. 22, 2017)