LOCAL PLAYERS IMPRESS AT "GOT SKILLS" FINALS
By: Matt Rosen & Scott StorkanPhoto Credit: Bob Lash & ASPN.com
Back in November 2006, over 120 youth hockey players took part in a two–day event and the top participants were extended an invitation to the National Competition, which took place last weekend at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, New York. 120 players from 17 states including seven Arizona residents all made their way to the Big Apple to showcase their skills.
Devin Bell, Willie Biberdorf, Malachi Bushey, Austin Crosby (no relation), Forbes Ploszaj, Jonathan Simon and Lynndy Smith represented Arizona youth hockey in five different events. The events, reminiscent to the NHL skills competition at the All-Star game included fastest skater, hardest shot, shot accuracy, a shootout competition, a goaltender competition as well as an all-around top skills competition.
This competition showed that youth hockey flourishing in the Valley as Devin Bell finished second in the goalie competition in the squirt travel level. Malachi Bushey of Tucson, shot a puck on average of 44.33 mph, good enough for second place in the hardest shot at the squirt travel level. Bushey also finished in second place overall in the top skills competition. Forbes Ploszaj placed second in the goaltender competition, missing first place by just one point in the squirt house division.
The big winner of the weekend was Austin Crosby of Phoenix, who won first place in the squirt house division in the fastest skater competition with a total time of 44.44 seconds. Lynndy Smith, missed qualifying in the fastest skater competition for Sunday’s final by four-tenths of a second. She fell on her first lap, however, she was allowed to redo the lap with a one-second penalty. If not for the penalty, she would have finished in second place and qualified in the top four for Sunday’s final.
The “Got Skills Competition” was set up to honor Ace Bailey, a former NHL player and scout who tragically lost his life on September 11, 2001. Bailey was a scout for the Los Angeles Kings at the time of his death but also scouted for the Edmonton Oilers where he was a part of five Stanley Cup Championships. As a player, Ace won two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins and also played for the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Oilers.
For a complete list of results, visit the Got Skills website at http://acesgotskills.com/Nationals.aspx
. For more information on youth hockey in the Valley, contact the Coyotes Youth Hockey Department at (623) 772-3464.