SAN JOSE, California – The Valley Christian Warriors and the Bellarmine Prep Bells, two San Jose high school hockey teams that began competing as squads in Sharks Sports & Entertainment’s Sharks Ice HP High School Hockey League, will travel to Anaheim from March 2-4 to compete for the inaugural California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) High School State Championship.
The first tournament of its kind in the history of California will pit four teams against one another, two from Northern California and two from Southern California, to determine and send a state champion to compete for the USA Hockey High School National Championship in Kearns, Utah from March 21-25, 2012.
Joining Valley Christian and Bellarmine Prep in the inaugural CAHA High School State Championship will be Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) and JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.). Preliminary games will be held at Anaheim Ice and the final will be contested at the Honda Center on Sunday, March 4.
“About three years ago, we approached USA Hockey about having a California High School Championship, but at the time we didn’t have enough schools with pure teams – squads made up from players from a single high school – to do a tournament or a playoff,” said CAHA President Steve Laing. “Thanks to the work and financial support of many people in the California hockey community, including the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks organizations and many others, we now have over 10 pure teams in the state and have been able to realize our goal of having a state championship. The last two years, CAHA has sent a team from California to compete at the USA Hockey High School National Championship, but this year we are very excited to give a trophy to a state champion and we know that whoever wins will represent California well on the national stage.”
Both Valley Christian and Bellarmine got their start in the Sharks Ice HP High School Hockey League, which is now in its 12th season. The league started with just four teams in the year 2000 and has since grown to include 19 teams currently playing in the Junior Varsity Division and could reach a total of 34 teams once the Varsity division begins play in mid-March. Games are played at all of Sharks Sports & Entertainment’s ice rink facilities (Sharks Ice at San Jose, Sharks Ice at Fremont, and Oakland Ice Center operated by Sharks Ice, and HP Pavilion). The league serves high school students encompassing the entire Bay Area from Santa Rosa in the north, Stockton to the east, Santa Cruz to the west, and now as far as Fresno in the south. Many teams are made up of players from a single school or geographical area.
Valley Christian and Bellarmine have since graduated to the Northern California High School Hockey League (NCHSHL). Now in its second season, the NCHSHL was originally a four-team league that also featured squads from Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) and Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa). These four teams split off from the Sharks Ice HP High School Hockey League Varsity division with the purpose and goal of encouraging other greater Bay Area high schools to sponsor their own pure squads. This season, the league expanded to include three public schools: the San Ramon Grizzlies (California High School), Dublin Gaels (Dublin High School), and Danville Wolves (San Ramon Valley High School). History was made this past fall as the Danville Wolves and the San Ramon played against each other in the first ice hockey game in the history of California to be contested between two public high schools.
NCHSHL teams play 10 regular season games against each other and participate in a several exhibition matches throughout the year against Sharks Ice HP High School Hockey League teams, Bellarmine Prep’s JV team, Santa Margarita Catholic High School, and JSerra High School. Each season, the top two teams from the NCHSHL will be selected to compete in the CAHA High School State Championship.
“We are very proud of where high school hockey is currently positioned,” said Sharks Ice General Manger Jon Gustafson. “Much of our successes can be attributed to our hockey department as well as the countless volunteer, coaches, parents, and school liaisons who have made this league their passion. The future is very bright and we are pleased to be a part of it.”
For more information on high school hockey in Northern California, please visit the following websites:http://www.sharksiceatsanjose.com/hockey/high_school_hockey/ http://caha.com/ http://www.usahockey.com http://norcalhighschoolhockey.com