SANTA CLARA BLACKHAWKS BECOME FIRST NORCAL TEAM TO A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
/ San Jose Sharks
The 11- and 12-year-old boys of the Pee Wee AA Santa Clara Blackhawks finally got the day off on April 2. The break came after a long season of practices and tournaments across the country, but it all paid off. The Blackhawks brought home the first-ever National Championship trophy awarded to a NorCal hockey team.
“Obviously we’re estatic,” said Club President Joe Lundi. “This is the first championship for us and the first ever for a NorCal team, so we’re just elated.”
The team, which practices locally at Sharks Ice at Fremont, finished the stellar season with a record of 43-2-2, and in addition to the Pee Wee AA National Championship, the boys also garnered the California Amateur Hockey Association, U.S.A. Pacific District and Silver Stick Regionals titles.
The Blackhawks took on the Indianapolis Racers in Fort Wayne, IN for the championship game and shut out the home crowd-favorite Racers, 4-0, in an impressive finish to the Blackhawks run through the tournament. The team ended with a 6-0 record in Fort Wayne, outscoring their opponents 31-4.
With more than 5,000 teams competing at the U.S.A. Hockey tournament, the Santa Clara Blackhawks proved the strength of NorCal hockey.
“We’re just a little team from California,” Head Coach Gary Bortolotta said. “This is the result of nothing but hard work. They gave their heart and soul.”
In March, the team competed in the CAHA Tournament at Logitech Ice at San Jose. The win there gave the team the State Championship and a seed to the national tournament.
Most of the players have been playing together for 4-5 years, learning the game together and honing their skills. That family atmosphere helped the team to come together to win the ultimate prize for the 12-and-under age group.
“I think that’s how it should be,” said Lundi of the team’s many years spent together. “You develop core players and let them grow together.”
The next step for the boys is a two-week hiatus, then possibly a trip to play in Canada this summer.
“We’re just a small mom and pop club and we’ve been around since 1977,” said Lundi. “Obviously we’re still going strong.”