Northstars, NAU IceJacks creating beneficial working atmosphere
In Arizona, the game is experiencing tremendous growth, but not solely in Phoenix and the surrounding areas.
For the Flagstaff community in the northern part of the state, hockey is going through a growth spurt of its own and it’s the direct impact of the Northern Arizona University ACHA program and the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association (FYHA) working together.
It’s a relationship that is proving to be a benefit for the collegiate players and youth prospects alike.
“The guys at NAU – A.J. Fairchild, Travis Johanson and Kris Walsh – we can’t thank them enough for what they have done and what they continue to do with FYHA,” said FYHA board member Kevin Tye. “Those guys have made the commitment to help our youth players out and so far, it’s been a tremendous effort all the way around.”
One of NAU’s top scorers, Max Mahood, skates with and teaches the Northstars players during the weekends, Jaxson Gosnell helps with the goaltenders on Mondays and Miles Lengyel, Austin Gooch and Rayce Miller join in with the FYHA 16U AA team for practices.
“These players have made 85-90 percent of our practices this year – that’s just phenomenal,” Tye said. “Our players are super stoked about this and what’s even better is that the NAU guys come ready with drills that our coaches can use.
“It’s funny, but I remember my son, Mathias, as a Mite player in FYHA and Lengyel out there pulling him around on the ice by his stick.”
Tye is hoping that once the NAU season starts next fall, Northstars players will be invited to the team’s new facility on campus to take part in intermission scrimmages and pre-game skates with the IceJacks. The new arena is slated to open in the fall of 2018.
“Things like this will keep strengthening the game here in Flagstaff,” added Tye.
— Matt Mackinder
(Sept. 29, 2017)