Arizona Rubber

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Three Jr. Wildcats teams claim championships at early-May IHAAZ event as march to State Finals intensifies


IHAAZ play was as competitive as ever over the May 7-8 weekend in Peoria for the fifth tournament of the 2022 season with State Finals approaching next month.

A trio of champions were crowned at the Peoria Sportsplex as the Arizona Jr. Wildcats won the 8U, 10U and 12U titles for the clean sweep

“This 12U-and-below event really showcased how much up-and-coming talent there is in these younger age groups,” said IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky. “The Jr. Wildcats have been dominant all season long in the 8U and 10U divisions especially, and that is due to the strong skating and roller hockey-specific skill sets of their players. Goaltending has also been clutch for the Wildcats with standouts Ryland Scott (8U), Keoni Weir (10U), and London Simpson (12U), who keep their teams in games when things get tight.”

8U – pictured above

Ben Van Houten collected four goals and added an assist as the Jr. Wildcats defeated the Outlaws 8-5 for the 8U title.

Connor Hillegonds added two goals and two assists, Nancilyn Skelly a goal plus a helper and Max Adams a goal to back Scott’s performance in goal.

For the Outlaws, Kasen Pusateri had a goal and three assists, while Drake Madia scored three goals and Frankie Aspito tallied one goal. Anthony Cunningham played between the pipes for the Outlaws.

In round robin play, Van Houten posted 14 goals and 16 points and the Storm’s Isaac Simpson chipped in three assists. Scott had three wins and a 2.33 goals-against average while the Knighthawks’ Alexandra Benzing went for a .711 save percentage and Cunningham and the Yuma Blaze’s Evelyn Stewart each recorded a shutout.



The Jr. Wildcats’ Red team picked up the tournament championship with a 7-4 victory over the Outlaws.

Henry Shoun scored twice with three assists, Hillegonds added three goals with an assist, and Maxx Begdorian and Issa Casler notched one goal apiece. Weir earned the win in goal.

The Outlaws were paced by Aiden Grabner’s two goals and two assists, while Aidan Streit and Daxon Parham scored one each. Dominic Tatone played a strong game in goal.

During the round robin, Van Houten had 13 goals and 14 points and Streit rang up three assists. In goal, Weir and Scott had two wins, while Weir had a 0.50 GAA and a .929 save percentage and Tatone, Weir and the Knighthawks’ Brayden Barnes all pitched shutouts.



In the third straight title game between the Jr. Wildcats and Outlaws, Gavin Molina’s two goals and two assists led the Jr. Wildcats to a 6-2 win.

Riley Peterson contributed two goals and an assist and Antonio Bras-Taylor added two goals as Simpson picked up the win between the pipes.

For the Outlaws, Evan Tzeng and Kylar Tinsdale scored and Gavin Larose and Jordan Fraser combined to see time in the crease.

In round robin action, Molina had four assists and nine points, the Outlaws’ Marcus Hancock posted six goals, and Simpson led the way in goal with three wins, an 0.33 GAA, .950 save percentage and two shutouts.

“It’s going to be a very interesting State Finals in these younger age groups as teams will need to be consistent throughout the tournament,” Boyarsky said. “With more games to play per team in each division, a team that has been dominant all season can get upset if they let off the gas for even a game, so things could get very interesting.

“It’ll be exciting to watch unfold.”

The next IHAAZ tournament is scheduled for the Peoria Sportsplex, with 14U and 18U teams competing this weekend, May 20-21.

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— Matt Mackinder

(May 19, 2022)

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