Arizona Rubber

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Pinnacle High proud of results at USA Hockey Youth Nationals

 

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Making the trip to the USA Hockey high school national championships has become a regular occurrence for Pinnacle – which has been four times since 2011 – but for head coach Glenn Karlson, this year’s journey was particularly special.

He wasn’t part of the program for the first two trips, and the first time the team qualified during his run as its coach, he had to miss the trip due to health issues. So even though Pinnacle didn’t come home with a banner, he was thrilled with the experience and the season as a whole.

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“I am extremely proud of the boys, and I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be part of this journey,” Karlson said. “This year’s team was made up mostly of upperclassmen who over the last four years have seen a program going through transition. After a disappointing result from the previous year, the boys were ready to embrace the challenge.”

The team’s roster includes forwards Max Cocreham, Ryan Eghlimi, Monte Gualtiere, Justin Hayward, Sam Hinnant, Josh Ihling, Cole Kamin, Will LaChapelle, Emmanuel Malki, Jackson Peters and Grant Ziegler; defensemen Weston Becker, Adam Beckerman, Logan Derryberry, Blake Hermann, Luke Hicks, Justin Sturm and Zach Zoretich; and goalies Kevin Church and Barrett Rosser.

Pinnacle opened with a 5-1 victory over Brookings, S.D., and then fell 5-3 to Southlake Carroll, Tex. They responded with a 3-2 win over Murray, Utah, before dropping a 3-0 decision to Santa Margarita, Calif. – an eventual national finalist – in the quarterfinals on April 2 in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Perseverance was this team’s greatest asset,” Karlson said. “They were always able to meet any adversity put in front of them and figure out a way to overcome it. That was no different at nationals. In the first game, we got into some penalty problems and found ourselves needing to find offense in a different way. Up to this time, we hadn’t scored a short-handed goal all season and we ended up with five shorthanded goals for the tournament.

“One other thing they had to overcome was losing a game. With an 18-1-1 season, this team didn’t get a chance to know how it feels to lose and to lose to really strong teams. After our first loss, the boys were able to bounce back quickly, which they did to advance out of the pools.”

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Karlson added that making it to nationals was a total team effort.

“All year, we tried to keep the boys in the moment, and they knew early on that this was going to be a special year,” Karlson said. “We had the best goalie tandem in the league, which brought confidence to the team. We had a good balance of guys that could bury the puck and a defensive core that took pride in low-scoring affairs. It wouldn’t matter if a team scored first or if they only had a one-goal lead going to the final moments of a game – the boys knew they would win if they believed in themselves.

“Our goalies don’t get enough credit for what they do. Kevin Church and Barrett Rosser have been the backstop of this team all year long, and it didn’t change at nationals. Also, our senior core – led by Blake Hermann – helped bring experience and maturity to the team. In addition to the seniors, a new line made up of Josh Ihling, Will LaChapelle and Emmanuel Malki rose to be the best overall line and shows a bright light for next year’s team. In addition to a bright offensive core, the young defensive core stood strong to the challenge, with freshman Logan Derryberry showing great poise against older opponents.

“With all that being said, there is one player that stood out game after game, and that was sophomore Justin Sturm. His game and confidence elevated every day.”

— Greg Ball