Arizona Rubber

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Arizona Hockey Union salutes end of 2018-19 campaign


The end of the season is always bittersweet.

The Arizona Hockey Union awards ceremony is a time when we celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of everyone involved with AHU (players, coaches, managers, family, etc.) and do something we can’t do all season. We gather everyone up in one room to revel in our club, team and players that are more than a youth hockey league to most of us.

It feels more like a family.


Some of us who used to see one another a couple times a week maybe a season ago, haven’t seen each other all season since our kids have moved up to other Knights teams. The awards ceremony rekindles those friendships and celebrates why we are all here doing what we do, day in and day out.

The youth travel season is almost six and a half months long. This means we spent 28 weeks together, or 196 days, or 4,704 hours, or 282,240 minutes or finally, 16,934,400 seconds together.

And in that time, which has gone by in what feels like the blink of an eye, we recognize that we have actually made friendships and memories that will last us a lifetime. It is very important to look back retrospectively and celebrate those memories, even for a brief few moments.

We have three club level awards: MVP, Coaches Award and Sportsmanship.

Coaches Award – Given to the athlete on a team whom the coach feels contributed the most to the team during the season taking into account things as sportsmanship, dedication, character, personal improvement, leadership and contribution to the team.

The winners include 8U White: Jace Byrd; 8U Silver: Luke Phillips; 10U Silver: Reed Brown; 10U White: Trevin Vargo; 12U Silver: Jordan Scofield; 12U Black: Luke Kampman; 12U Gray: Alex Huber; 12U Purple: Carter Charron; 12U White: Jackson McCutcheon; 14U AA Black: Nathan Graybill; 14U AA Silver: Garrett Falcone; and 18U AA Silver: Max Chase.

Sportsmanship Award – Given to a player who promote the values of sportsmanship, ethical play in competition, commitment to their team, and charity through service to their community.

These winners were 8U White: Quinn Cheslea; 8U Silver: Owen Lacoste; 10U Silver: Jake Lentz; 10U White: Rory Weekly; 12U Silver: Hayden Heinrichs; 12U Black: Brandon Brown; 12U Gray: Spencer Morgan; 12U Purple: Hunter Hinds; 12U White: Lucas Paliwodzinski; 14U AA Black: Tyler Shin; 14U AA Silver: Alex Walsh; and 18U AA Silver: Luke Yubeta.

MVP – The MVP is the player on your team who has performed best throughout the season. The MVP is usually the player who contributes the most to their team.

Team MVPs are 8U White: Mason Hammer; 8U Silver: Austin Russo; 10U Silver: Brayden Willis; 10U White: Reagan Rivera; 12U Silver: Jack Welch; 12U Black: Chase Kane; 12U Gray: Viktor Sliwinski; 12U Purple: Jake Goebig; 12U White: Eli Shulman; 14U AA Black: Kai Hohoff; 14U AA Silver: Tyler Kowalchuk; and 18U AA Silver: Patrick Murphy.

Spirit of Service – This is an award that is awarded to the team who goes above and beyond giving back to hockey and their community.

One of the greatest team-building activities that a youth hockey team can do is to venture out into their communities and volunteer where there is a need. This is an award that is awarded to the team who goes above and beyond giving back to hockey and their community.

The AHU Bantam Black team has long recognized that it is a privilege to play travel hockey and giving back to the local community is necessary. In October, Bantam Black served South Phoenix families and the veteran community at St. Vincent de Paul. The team set up, served and cleaned up dinner for 40-plus families and 20-plus veterans. Adjacent to the dining hall is The Dream Center. This is an area of the facility where the kids and our players were able to hang out and play games, read books, help with homework and laugh. This service project left a lasting impression on the players and parents alike. Everyone on the team walked away a little differently after the event.

Bantam Black making Thanksgiving dinner a reality for some Chandler residents through the YMCA

In November, the team invaded a Fry’s Marketplace at 7:15 a.m. with one goal in mind – food shopping for their community. In conjunction with the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA, the players and families filled their carts with turkeys, potatoes, pies and all the other traditional Thanksgiving fixings to provide 14 local families with enough food for a hearty and healthy Thanksgiving dinner. After shopping, the team traveled to the Y where they received their delivery list and then were off again to hand-deliver the baskets they had assembled as well as an additional 11 baskets that the Y needed to be sent out.

In December, for the second year in a row, Bantam Black players and their families packed boxes of food for the Salvation Army to distribute over the holiday season. This entailed unpacking food, assembling boxes, arranging the items into an assembly line format, packing the boxes and then loading the boxes on pallets. After all was said and done, the team had 500 boxes ready to go out the door for the holidays.

And finally, in February, it was Bantam Black’s fourth annual trip to Feed My Starving Children. In the team’s down time between the end of league play and state playoffs, the players, their parents and siblings gathered at FMSC to pack nutritional meals for children around the world, including parts of the United States. As this was the team’s fourth time working with this organization, the players had determined who the best fit for each task was and no slacking was allowed, even a player with a broken leg had a job.

Bantam Black rallying around Beau and his busted leg

The players like it, not only for the obvious reason of helping children, but also because it promotes teamwork amongst them. We are very proud of them.

Arizona Hockey Union continues to operate three tournaments in the Valley (Ice Breaker/Thanksgiving/Presidents Day) that generate the operational revenue for the coming year. It allows us to offer $25,000 in financial-based scholarships that make this expensive sport within everyone’s reach regardless of financial obstacles. We are very proud that we also contribute to the overall economic growth of the Valley of the Sun since our tournaments positively impact the local economy with the visitors that come to attend our tournaments.

We also continue growing the sport since we are increasing the positive visibility of Arizona hockey across the entire country.

— Sean Phillips

(May 7, 2019)

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