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Santa Margarita High School Ice Hockey Rockets into 2010-11

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
The Santa Margarita Catholic High School Varsity Ice Hockey team began its second season at the Endless Summer Ice Hockey Pre-Season Tournament in Valencia over the Labor Day weekend. The Eagles started where they left off last season again reigning victorious in the 18U AA division, lifting the Championship Banner after a hard-fought battle in the championship game against OC Hockey Club, one of the strongest and most talented AA teams in California. The championship banner joins a number of others won in a string of victories in its inaugural season, which include tournament wins in both Columbus, Ohio and Phoenix Arizona, as well as the ADHSHL Title. The Eagles hopes of building on their first season’s success looks promising and are a team to watch this season.

This summer’s recruiting and training for the upcoming season, has added depth and skill to the already strong team, as well as a the inaugural season for a young and promising JV program. New to varsity, coming all the way from Finland, and adding considerable strength and intensity to the team is defenseman, Joona Kunnas, aka:The Rocket. Having played for the Finnish National Development Ice Hockey Team, Joona wanted to round out his game with the North American style of hockey. Of all teams and school available to him in the U.S., Joona chose SMCHS and was welcomed with open arms by the school, the community and a wonderful host family. Already fitting in as a team leader with the tightly knit SM Ice Hockey team, Joona has excelled both on and off the ice. Varsity Head Coach, Craig Johnson, couldn’t be happier with the additions to the team. “Joona adds so much to the team. His skills and experience will only make us better and we couldn’t be more excited to have him at Santa Margarita. But we also added depth to our team with the addition of several other players we’re very excited about”. The talent added covers all positions, notably: Michael Kilkuts, and Evan Nyhus AAA defenseman, Luc Fournier a top scoring SCAHA forward, Andrew Kristof from the Atlanta Fire Tier program, and Jason Lively from the LA Hockey Club.  These additions along with the strong core of players from the inaugural team, has everyone involved in the program excited about its future.

In their first show case of the season over the Labor Weekend, the team lived up to its own high expectations of winning the tournament. In their opening game, there was no rust as the Eagles were led by the strong goaltending of Connor O’Brien as well as a consistently strong defense and offense. The chemistry was evident as the team worked together to score 5 goals, 2 of which came from Kyle Conway, to beat the Santa Clara Blackhawks 5-1. Their second game was more of the same as the Eagles rolled to a 6-0 win over the California Wave, in a shut out by goalie, Brandon Berger, crowned with 2 goals from The Finnish Rocket, Joona Kunnas. In their third game, playing their most formidable opponent, the Eagles fought an epic battle with a very skilled, experienced OC Hockey Club team, losing 4-2 but locking in a spot in the Championship round. In the Championship game the Eagles struck first with a goal from Kayden Muzilla, followed by an OC Hockey club goal to tie the game. Max Kilkuts scored to give the Eagles the lead which was then increased to 3-1 with what would end up being the game winning goal by his brother, Mike Kilkuts. Congratulations go out to the Eagles for their Tournament win, the 2010-2011 pre-season has started off right where it ended last year with dramatic wins, continued development and celebrations. The only difference seems to be the new bright and talented faces joining a team that already knew success both off and on the ice.    

High School Ice Hockey is still very new at SM and the program continues to work very hard to bring the same traditions, notoriety and pride to a school rich with Trinity League CIF sports success. The Eagles Ice Hockey program has already become a part of the SMCHS community drawing enthusiastic crowds supporting a team that has already earned their respect, particularly with their hard-fought success against their Trinity League rival JSerra. Hoping to build on their inaugural season’s success and community support, the team is excited about putting it all out there on the ice for the loyal fans once again. The Eagles Trinity League ice hockey season’s opening game is October 30 at The Rinks-Anaheim ICE. They will face off against their formidable Trinity League opponent, the JSerra Ice Lions, at 7:20 p.m. Until then they can be found playing exciting pre-season games nearly every Saturday evening at Anaheim ICE. The team’s game schedule is on the ice hockey page of the school’s athletic department website.
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