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Bonita Vista Barons remain CIF-Metro Conference's 'special' team in 2011-12 Phillip Brents | Wed, Feb 08 2012 11:51 PM

Bonita Vista High School roller hockey coach Keith Quigley admitted he had become frustrated with his team over the course of the 2011-12 CIF-Metro Conference roller hockey season. But the frustration was not necessarily dictated by the slew of mounting losses; it was by not seeing his players perform to their potential.

The Barons are the conference’s special team this season — one that almost didn’t happen.

Head coach Keith Quigley had to do some last minute recruiting on campus in order to fill out a roster for this season, the team’s 12th in CIF play and 14th overall (including club play). The last-minute demos to physical education classes worked but what the team reaped were a lot of players who had not experience.

The spirit was willing but the skill was lacking.

“Two months ago half these players didn’t know how to skate,” Quigley said. "Win or lose, my main goal is to see that every player reaches their potential."

The team has steadily improved since the first puck-drop in December, recording minor victories in various areas even though victories on the scoreboard were in short order.

Bonita Vista scrapped together enough from its returning players to post a 10-8 non-league victory in its season opener (delayed by two weeks) against a Castle Park team regrouping under new coach Patrick Johnson.

But after that, there were none. In fact, it appeared the team might lose its remaining 19 games.

The Barons snapped what had become a 14-game losing streak Monday by defeating the Chula Vista Spartans, 9-8, in a non-league game played at Skate San Diego in National City.

It wasn’t the team’s best game — that was reserved for a 9-2 loss to Mesa League rival Eastlake on Jan. 30 — but Quigley’s crew did enough in the final period to overcome some self-created adversity.

“We got some bounces of the puck that went our way and every team needs those sometimes to win a game,” said Quigley, whose team improved to 2-14 overall. “Our top scorer, Jonathan O’Brien, got the majority of our goals but everybody contributed. The whole team played hard and really wanted to win this game.”

The teams met two weeks earlier, with the Spartans (4-9 in South Bay League play, 5-12 overall) skating to a 14-10 victory behind 11 goals from Tre Rogers.

Rogers was Chula Vista’s primary scoring threat once again in Monday’s contest, collecting seven goals and one assist. He had three breakaways off face-offs to help turn an early 4-2 deficit to a 7-6 advantage on the scoreboard entering the final period.

O’Brien was credited with eight goals in Monday’s game. He set the pace in the third period by scoring off the opening face-off.

Joey Vera and Lucas Hanson were each credited with two assists in the game while defender Cindy Flores received credit for one assist.

Quigley credited Flores with inspiring the team not to give up hope during its lengthy losing spell. She led by example in Monday’s game.

“I've really enjoyed coaching her over the last couple years,” Quigley said. “Any player could look to her and learn so much about leadership, accountability, discipline and hard work. Cindy is not one of the best skaters on my team but she is at the top when it comes to working hard.  Whether it's a game or practice, she tightens up her skates, digs in and gets after it!  She's a role model player.”

The BVHS coach credited her with helping increase team morale.

“The other day, during a game that we were losing, my Baron players started to get on each other,” Quigley said. “ Cindy approached me between periods and asked ‘Coach, can I say something to the team?’  I told her yes.  Cindy got the attention of her teammates and said ‘All of you need to stop blaming each other... Just worry about yourself and do your own job out there.’  Good words from a strong team leader.”

Game on
Monday’s game pitted two female goaltenders in the coed sport — Bonita Vista’s Nicole Tran and Chula Vista’s Lindsey Bull.

Bull may have finished with more saves in the game but Tran, who serves as team co-captain with Flores, stopped her share of bullets, including a pair on acrobatic dives across the goal crease in the frantic final moments of the third period.

“Lindsey made some great saves but our goalie also came up with some important saves at critical parts of the game,” Quigley said. “In a long losing streak like we had, some people might blame the goaltender but, in fact, Nicole kept us in many games where we had a chance to win. She deserves a lot of credit. I’m happy we were able to get another win for her. The only thing I don’t like is that she’s a senior.”

Quigley said senior Evan Simpkins, one of the team’s newcomers, is another player who “always gives his all.” His unselfish player was also instrumental in Monday’s victory.

“What’s great about Evan is that I can use him on both offensive and defensive positions,” Quigley said. “He always tells me to just use him where I feel he will be most effective. “He’s improved both on offense and defense, especially on backchecking. We knew Tre would be an important player for them and we wanted to do anything we could to slow him down, and that included trying to get a stick on the puck when he had it. I think we slowed him down enough.”

Just enough.

Rogers scored with 1:21 left to trim the score to 9-8. Baron defenders got enough swipes at Rogers’ stick thereafter to turn the puck over and disrupt play. But it wasn’t until five seconds were left that a BVHS victory seemed certain.

Small steps, as we all know, sometimes lead to great leaps.

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