Ice hockey makes its mark

Diego Moreno, Staff Writer

The cool air and rush of adrenaline on the hockey rink was something unique to the East Coast, but with the rise of hockey in Irvine that feeling is only going to spread to the West Coast. Ever since the Anaheim Ducks’ inauguration in 1993, hockey has been spreading like wildfire in and around the greater Orange County area. Ever since the creation of the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL), yet in the past few years high school hockey has seen unparalleled interest, especially in Irvine.

Since ADHSHL first started in 2008 with JSerra Catholic High School, it has grown tremendously every year. It currently consists of 53 teams across 39 schools, spanning a number of districts in the process, including the Irvine United Warriors hockey team, which is a team made up of aspiring hockey players from high schools across Irvine, that compete in regional contests against other teams in ADHSHL.

“From prior hockey experience, I knew some of the players from my club team before playing on the Warriors,” Northwood alumni Jaxsen Foxfire said. “But, it was extremely enjoyable meeting my new teammates who went to Woodbridge and it was a different experience bonding with them on a level I hadn’t previously experienced.”

Foxfire was a former right wing and defenseman for the Irvine Warriors. The Irvine team was formed due to the lack of players at any individual school to form a full hockey team, however, the amount of hockey participation in Irvine was too much to ignore; thus, the ADHSHL board members allowed a collective Irvine team. However, many other teams in the ADHSHL are compelled to play on behalf of other schools as well, making the Warriors team’s situation traditional protocol.

“The development of additional rinks and more exposure from the Anaheim Ducks, leading to more kids wanting to try it and get hooked into it,” ADHSHL director Matthew Blanchart said. “So we always want to try to grow the sport and to get more kids on the ice as it’s always a considerable benefit for us.”

Like most sports, hockey is the recipient of COVID-19 regulations, especially with it being a full contact sport. With the increased precaution, ADHSHL has been adaptive in their pracrices, as they focus on the fundamentals of the sport, which include stick skills, skating and passing.

“I think COVID-19 will affect our league the same as it will affect any other CIF sports,” Blanchart said. “Our season is currently set to begin the first week in January when CIF sports return, and we are anticipating a season but it won’t be a full season.”

As of right now, it is unlikely that there will be a Northwood hockey team in the near future, but with ADHSHL’s unprecedented growth in the last few years and the new Five Point Ice Rink at Great Park open for service, that may change in favor of hockey players. For Northwood hockey to be a reality, a Northwood student can start a hockey club, which could potentially become a club team and eventually enter CIF as a full-fledged team, once the club gains enough members and interest.

“Hockey is one of the greatest experiences in my life,” Foxfire said. “I hope hockey is able to become a bigger sport in Southern California so more schools can have teams.”