Scottsdale’s Gittings stars at AAU West Coast Nationals
Arizona continues to produce outstanding talent in amateur inline hockey on a yearly basis, and this season is no different.
Scottsdale’s Aaron Gittings captured top goaltender honors in two divisions at the 2016 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) West Coast Nationals held over Memorial Day Weekend at The Rinks-Corona Inline in Corona, Calif.
This tournament attracted 67 teams from throughout California and Arizona and served as a qualifier for the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Games, scheduled July 6-18 in Kapolei, Hawaii.
At the event, Gittings recorded a .911 save percentage for the HB Militia (Midget-AAA) and a .900 save percentage for the CAZ Stars (Junior Division).
The HB Militia captured the gold medal in its division while the CAZ Stars placed runner-up.
Phoenix’s Chad Colwell earned high scorer honors in the Junior Division with seven points on three goals and four assists while also playing for the CAZ Stars.
Gittings said this was the first time he won two top goaltender honors in the same tournament.
“I couldn’t have done it without having a great team in front of me,” he explained.
Gittings, who has played roller hockey since he was 10 with the Arizona Stars, coached by Dan Maxwell, and with the Konixx Outcasts program since he was 12, will attend Arizona State University this fall on an academic scholarship. He said he would like to continue his inline hockey career with the Sun Devils’ program in the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL).
ASU finished runner-up in the WCRHL Division I regular season standings in 2015-16 with a 13-1-2 record and advanced to April’s National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) national championship tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“I will be hoping to crack the Division I roller hockey roster at ASU this year,” he stated as his goal as an incoming freshman.
Gittings appears to be playing at the top of his game at present after recording three top goaltender awards at NARCh regional qualifiers this past season. He plans to continue competing in high-level NARCh tournaments with the Outcasts.
“My favorite thing about roller hockey is the laid-back and great atmosphere and seeing kids of all ages come together to play such a great sport,” he said. “It’s nice to see the sport growing so much recently.”
Gittings is very proud of the fact that he played in his first NARCh Pro game for the Outcasts earlier this season.
He earned the top goaltender award at the NARCh Irvine regional, held April 21-24, in Irvine, Calif., after recording a .974 save percentage to help lead the Outcasts win the Junior Division championship. Prior to that, he earned the same honor at the NARCh Huntington Beach regional, held April 1-3, in Huntington Beach, Calif., when he helped guide the Outcasts to another Junior Division championship.
The Outcasts also won the Men’s/Pro Division at the Irvine regional.
Gittings wrapped up his third top goaltender award at the NARCh Escondido regional, played June 3-5, in Escondido, Calif.
Gittings has also played ice hockey with a great deal of success. He competed this past season in the Eastern Hockey League’s Premier Division with the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, posting a 2.41 goals-against average with a .878 save percentrage and 4-1-1 record in 10-game appearances. He has also attended the USA Hockey national championships three times — two consecutive years with Arizona Hockey Union Knights and once with the Phoenix Firebirds.
He lists his strengths as a goaltender as his size (6-2, 175 pounds) and his ability to play the puck.
He said he tries to emulate Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. His roller hockey idols are Pama Cyclones legends Itan Chavira and Gerry Osterkamp.
So just what gives Gittings the biggest rush playing the position?
“Making big saves at important times in the game,” he said succinctly.
— Phillip Brents