Quartet of high school state champions crowned at Ice Den Scottsdale
The first weekend in February saw four state championship games contested at the Ice Den Scottsdale and four teams skate away with Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA) hardware as the best in the state in their division.
Pinnacle (Division 1, pictured top), Centennial (Division 2), Corona (Division 3) and Flagstaff (JV) were crowned champions, while Pinnacle will now represent the state at USA Hockey High School Nationals next month in Plymouth, Minn.
“Winning never gets old – there couldn’t be a truer statement when it comes to winning, especially if the win comes along with the title of ‘state champions,’” said Pinnacle coach Glenn Karlson, whose team defeated Notre Dame 1-0. “Our expectations for Nationals are to win. The boys are capable of competing on that stage and it is the coaches’ opinion this team is built to compete at that level. We are fully aware that we will be competing against the best other states have to offer, but we have the utmost confidence in our team. Expectations and the bar are set high for us.”
Centennial downed Horizon 4-3, while Corona topped Campo Verde 6-5 in overtime and Flagstaff beat Mountain Ridge 2-1 with the D-1 game played in front of YouTube sensation Pavel Barber.
“It’s difficult to win a championship, but to do it back to back is a great reflection of the kids’ hard work and dedication to the team,” Centennial coach Greg Vaughn said. “We had what it takes to get to the championship game and win it, something this team was destined to accomplish.”
“The feeling is amazing,” added Corona coach Ryan Sell. “We saw that smart team play and good goaltending goes a long way in the playoffs.”
Flagstaff co-coach Brian Petersen said his team’s goal was to win states from Day 1.
“Winning this year is especially sweet,” Petersen said. “We, as a team, set the goal after our first game and we achieved this goal. As a coach, it is always fun to see kids progress in their hockey ability and also in their character, but also come to realize that (as Herb Brooks said in ‘Miracle’) the letters on the front of the jersey are much more important than the letters on the back of the jersey.”
From an administrative standpoint, Kenny McGinley, an AHSHA Board member and one of the tournament’s organizers, said he came away with a sense of pride that weekend in Scottsdale.
“This year’s event was a tremendous success,” said McGinley. “Throughout the entire playoffs, we experienced record attendance and the crowds were treated to great action. The Ice Den Scottsdale provided a fantastic atmosphere and experience for our players and fans.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 22, 2018)