Pair of DYHA teams find tournament success in recent events
Two Desert Youth Hockey Association Jr. Sun Devils teams won tournament championships over Thanksgiving Weekend in November.
Those teams weren’t done, however.
Fast-forward to two weeks later, and the duo of banner-claiming squads teamed up during coinciding trips to Dallas for the Winter Clash Tournament.
If great minds think alike, so, too, do great teams.
“Both team managers got together and had the idea of partnering the teams up,” said Jon Koshiol, coach of the DYHA 10U Major team, one of the two title winning Jr. Sun Devils teams.
Koshiol’s Squirt outfit won the Thanksgiving Shootout in Phoenix, posting a perfect 5-0 record and plus-24 goal differential during its march to a championship.
In the tournament championship game, forward Collin Ubrig scored the game-winning goal late in the third period to capture the Jr. Sun Devils their early season banner and the team’s tenth consecutive win as well.
“Any time you win and you get to celebrate, it’s a good thing, [especially when] we are coming off a 10-game winning streak,” Koshiol said.
Ubrig had five goals in the round robin stage in addition to his game-winner in the tournament finale. Nate Chatsworth led the Jr. Sun Devils in the group stage with six goals and Jack Wilson chipped in with three of his own.
DYHA’s strong depth was the real story of the tournament, however, as it had eight different players score a goal in the tournament’s first three games alone.
“Every one of them were part of it,” Koshiol said of the solid team effort he got during the championship run.
Meanwhile, the 16U Jr. Sun Devils were in Las Vegas winning four of their five games en route to a Silver Stick Regional title. DYHA finished off the tournament championship with a 6-2 win over the Golden State Elite Eagles from California in the championship game.
Earlier in the event, DYHA knocked off the Portland Jr. Winterhawks and the Utah Golden Eagles before advancing the tournament semi-final with a 3-1 win over the California Wave.
As has been the case all year, the Jr. Sun Devils benefitted from strong defensive play. Not once did the team allow more than three goals in a game, helping them return to Arizona with a plus-12 goal differential in the event.
The title also guaranteed the Jr. Sun Devils an automatic invitation to the Silver Stick International Finals at year’s end, giving them an opportunity to face some of the best Midget teams from around the continent.
But in the meantime, the Midgets joined together with the Squirts to prepare for their trip to Dallas.
During the week leading up the Winter Clash, the two teams shared a group photo after a practice. In North Texas, they shared meals and supported each other during games.
“They’ve planned it,” Koshiol said of the teams’ managers, Sherri Koshiol and Melanie Sanchez. “I thought it was a good idea, too.”
In Dallas, the 16Us faced the Houston Wild, Oklahoma City Oil Kings and McKinney North Stars. The 10Us squared off against the North Stars as well, in addition to the Tulsa Jr. Oilers and Dallas Penguins.
For both teams, it was a chance to grow on their impressive starts to the season by facing tough out-of-state competition.
They both had plenty of success to build off of as well as the added bonus of the encouragement they received from one another.
“Any time you win and you get to celebrate, it’s a good thing,” Koshiol reiterated.
It isn’t often that a celebration gets to be shared across two teams from an organization, though, especially two teams traveling to the same tournament across the country.
— Jack Harris
(Dec. 18, 2017)