High school winter sports awards: Roller hockey playoffs prove rewarding for Eastlake Titans


From left, Eastlake High School's version of roller hockey's fearsome foursome, Luke Killeen, Will Hamilton, Jake Powell and Braden Mayer. Photo by Phillip Brents

The National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs have faced off and the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs are next up on the ice.

The high school roller hockey season wrapped up March 5. Ahem, the Eastlake Titans were still rolling on the court.

The Titans, seeded fourth in the 12-team Don Cerone/Kiwanis Cup playoffs, finished the school’s most successful season in more than a decade by placing fourth in this year’s third-place game at the Escondido Sports Center.

Eastlake closed out the 2017-18 season with a final 24-2 record after coming up short in a 6-3 setback to the second-seeded Scripps Ranch Falcons.

The Titans took a commanding 24-0 record into the semifinals against the top-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos. The Broncos prevailed, 6-2, in the game played Feb. 28 in Escondido.

Sophomore Braden Mayer scored both goals for Eastlake in the semifinal loss.

Both Final Four matchups proved highly competitive for the intrepid Eastlake squad, which had nothing to be ashamed of in post-season play against the generally more highly regarded North County League teams.

Rancho Bernardo shut out the third-seeded Westview Wolverines, 6-0, to capture this year’s championship title.

“Eastlake has a fantastic team — wonderful coach, great program,” RB coach Joey Gelsomino said. “It was a real battle the entire game. Both teams left everything on the rink.”

Eastlake cemented its name in the history books by finishing regular season play 23-0, with 22 of those wins coming against fellow Sweetwater Union High School District teams.

The Titans edged the Cathedral Catholic Dons, 3-2, in their only game against a non-district opponent in midseason. The teams drew a rematch in the quarterfinal playoffs, with Eastlake capturing a 7-4 decision over the fifth-seeded Dons.

The playoff game saw Eastlake skate to an early 3-0 lead and the Titans would need every one of those goals as Cathedral Catholic later whittled the deficit to one goal on the scoreboard in the third period. Two late goals by senior Will Hamilton saved the day for the Titans.

Hamilton earned honors as the 2017-18 Mesa League Player of the Year.

Rancho Bernardo claimed its fifth Kiwanis Cup champion on the strength of four goals by Ike Frankel and a 20-save shutout performance by goaltender Jakob Ogan.

The Wolverines had entered the championship game as two-time defending champions. Westview had tipped Rancho Bernardo in overtime to win last year’s title.


Chula Vista High’s Giovanni Cimmino earned honors as the 2017-18 South Bay League Player of the Year. Photo by Phillip Brents

Cimmino stands tallest as Spartans’ last man on defense

Chula Vista High School senior Giovanni Cimmino stood tall in the net for the Spartans roller hockey team this season as be backed-stopped an undermanned and somewhat inexperienced team to this season’s South Bay League championship.

The Spartans finished the 2017-18 season with a 10-1 league record to edge Southwest (7-4 in league) and Mar Vista (6-5 in league) for the league championship. Cimmino played a big role in helping his teammates win that title as the most experienced player on the court.

Without his leadership between the pipes, Chula Vista’s record could have been significantly reversed in the win/loss column.

Not surprisingly, he earned honors as the 2017-18 South Bay League Player of the Year.

“I want to think my friends and family for pushing me and thank all my coaches for teaching me how to play goalie,” he said.

Cimmino completed his third year on the team, his second between the pipes. He said it took him a while to appreciate the position after leaving the floor as a field player.

“Staying back and watching the game, I didn’t like it at first, but then I started to appreciate the game and help my younger teammates correct their mistakes.”

Cimmino will be joining the Marine Corps following graduation. He is currently playing a field position for the CVHS boys lacrosse team.


The Chula Vista High School roller hockey team skated to this season’s South Bay League championship. Photo by Phillip Brents




Mesa League
First Team
Luke Kileen (Eastlake)
Will Hamilton (Eastlake)
Jacob Powell (Eastlake)
Eleazar Cruz (Castle Park)
J.T. Santiago (Otay Ranch)

Second Team
Braden Mayer (Eastlake)
Sean Devaney (Otay Ranch)
Martin Mari (Castle Park)
Jared Fuentes (Castle Park)
Elian Ramirez (Eastlake)

Player of the Year
Will Hamilton (Eastlake)

Championship Team
Eastlake High School


South Bay League
First Team
Lucio Gutierrez (Chula Vista)
Jake Curtis (San Ysidro)
Kayleigh Andrew (Southwest)
Isaiah Pelayo (Chula Vista)
Giovanni Cimmino (Chula Vista)


Second Team
Bryan Suarez (Mar Vista)
Adrian Hernandez (Chula Vista)
Gonzalo Morales (San Ysidro)
Sylvia Barba (Chula Vista)
Mariano Mercado (San Ysidro)

Player of the Year
Giovanni Cimmino (Chula Vista)

Championship Team
Chula Vista High School


All-Metro Conference
Roller Hockey Team

First Team
Matt Gauthier (Scripps Ranch)
Will Hamilton (Eastlake)
Laurent Lee (Westview)
Kayleigh Andrew (Southwest)
Jakob Ogan (Rancho Bernado)

Second Team
Miles Cook (Rancho Bernardo)
Matt Russell (Patrick Henry)
Alex Pang (Rancho Bernardo)
Jake Belland (Cathedral Catholic)
Patrick Henson (Cathedral Catholic)

Player of the Year
Matt Gauthier (Scripps Ranch)

Coach of the Year
Caroline Talavera (Chula Vista)


North County League
First Team
Matt Gauthier (Scripps Ranch)
Miles Cook (Rancho Bernardo)
Laurent Lee (Westview)
Alex Pang (Rancho Bernardo)
Jakob Ogan (Rancho Bernardo)

Second Team
Bryce Mendoza (Escondido Charter)
Matt Russell (Patrick Henry)
Cody Ayers (Scripps Ranch)
Jake Belland (Cathedral Catholic)
Patrick Henson (Cathedral Catholic)

Player of the Year
Matt Gauthier (Scripps Ranch)

Coach of the Year
Ron Smith (Westview)




2018 Kiwanis Cup
Playoff Scoreboard

First Round
Wednesday, Feb. 21
(7) Patrick Henry 9, (10) Castle Park 5
(5) Cathedral Catholic 12, (12) Chula Vista 0
(6) Escondido Charter 11, (11) Otay Ranch 2
(8) Poway 10, (9) Hilltop 3

Monday, Feb. 26
(4) Eastlake 7, (5) Cathedral Catholic 4
(1) Rancho Bernardo 10, (8) Poway 0
(2) Scripps Ranch 13, (7) Patrick Henry 4
(3) Westview 7, (6) Escondido Charter 5

Wednesday, Feb. 28
(1) Rancho Bernardo 6, (4) Eastlake 2
(3) Westview 6, (2) Scripps Ranch 5 (OT)

Monday, March 5
Third place game: (2) Scripps Ranch 6, (4) Eastlake 3
Championship game: (1) Rancho Bernardo 6, (3) Westview 0


Mesa League 50-goals scorers (and ice hockey teammates) Braden Mayer (left) of Eastlake High School and Sean Devaney of Otay Ranch High School. Photo by Phillip Brents


CIF-Metro Conference Scoring Leaders

(Sweetwater district schools/Final Regular Season)

  • Luke Killeen (Eastlake) 69 goals, 24 assists – 93 points
  • Will Hamilton (Eastlake) 50 goals, 28 assists -78 points
  • Braden Mayer (Eastlake) 50 goals, 27 assists – 77 points
  • Paul Chavez (Otay Ranch) 46 goals, 19 assists – 65 points
  • Sean Devaney (Otay Ranch) 50 goals, 13 assists – 63 points
  • Trevor Fune (Hilltop) 58 goals, 4 assists – 62 points
  • Martin Mari (Castle Park) 40 goals, 4 assists – 44 points
  • Nick Stark (Bonita Vista) 31 goals, 10 assists – 41 points
  • Lucio Gutierrez (Chula Vista) 30 goals, 10 assists – 40 points
  • Eleazar Cruz (Castle Park) 32 goals, 7 assists – 39 points
  • Jake Powell (Eastlake) 22 goals, 13 assists – 35 points
  • Bo Santos (Bonita Vista) 25 goals, 6 assists – 31 points
  • Kristen Lambertson (Hilltop) 16 goals, 13 assists – 29 points
  • Kayleigh Andrew (Southwest) 26 goals, 2 assists – 28 points
  • Bryan Suarez (Mar Vista) 22 goals, 3 assists – 25 points
  • Kevin Eagles (Eastlake) 16 goals, 5 assists – 21 points
  • Adrian Hernandez (Chula Vista) 16 goals, 5 assists – 21 points
  • Casey Prenatt (Otay Ranch) 15 goals, 6 assists – 21 points
  • Van Brown (Mar Vista) 18 goals, 2 assists – 20 points
  • Jose Lopez (Sweetwater) 13 goals, 6 assists – 19 points
  • Isaac Suarez (Mar Vista) 15 goals, 3 assists -18 points
  • Jacinto Montalvan (Hilltop) 14 goals, 4 assists – 18 points
  • Ryan Strodtman (Otay Ranch) 13 goals, 3 assists – 16 points
  • Anna Custodio (Bonita Vista) 12 goals, 3 assists – 15 points
  • Jonathan McCormick (Eastlake) 12 goals, 4 assists – 14 points





The Vegas Golden Knights have turned the National Hockey League upside down in their history-making inaugural season. Photo by Eric J. Fowler


Got Stanley Cup playoffs? First-year Vegas Golden Knights continue to shock NHL foes on the ice

The Stanley Cup playoffs are all about great goals, great goaltending and great teams. Taken together, it makes for great viewing on any media platform.

The 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs could also be all about the first-year Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas shocked the hockey world by setting a seemingly unending list of records for a National Hockey League expansion team.

The Golden Knights, built with retreads and promising young prospects obtained though an expansion draft and cunning trades by general manager George McPhee, finished with a remarkable 51-24-7 regular season record and 109 standings points to win the NHL’s Pacific Division.

Vegas finished eight standings points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks, the runner-up in the division, and nine standings points ahead of the San Jose Sharks, the third place team in the division. The Los Angeles Kings finished in fourth place in the division 11 standings points behind the Nevada team.

All three California teams have either won the Stanley Cup or advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Ducks won the Cup in 2007 and were a finalist in last year’s Western Conference Finals. The Kings won coveted Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.

The Sharks finished runner-up in the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals.

Vegas, it seems, is keeping some rather elite company.

The 109 standings points placed the Golden Knights fifth best overall in the 31-team NHL — eight standings points behind the Nashville Predators, the top team in the Western Conference and top team in the league.

Only the Predators and the Winnipeg Jets (114 standings points) had better records in the Western Conference than Vegas. Only the Tampa Bay Lightning (113 standings points) and Boston Bruins (112 standings points) had better records in the Eastern Conference than the Golden Knights.

The Vegas team, the funded to the tune of a$500 expansion fee by principal owner Bill Foley, showed it had something special going for it from the first puck drop of the 2017-18 season.

Vegas won its inaugural NHL game — a 2-1 win over the host Dallas Stars — and set a league record for an expansion team by winning its first three games of the season. The Golden Knights set another league record for an expansion team by winning eight of its first nine games.

Other records by an expansion team followed:

The team won eight consecutive wins from Dec. 14 to Jan. 2 and recorded 34 wins in its first 50 games.

On Feb. 21, the Golden Knights recorded the most points in an inaugural season with 84.

On March 26, Vegas became the first team since the Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers (refugees from the World Hockey Association) to make the playoffs in their first year.

On March 31, the Golden Knights became the first true expansion team in the four major sports to win its division in its inaugural season. The team had led the Pacific Division since Dec. 23.

Following the completion of regular season play, the NHL’s newest team still isn’t finished setting league records.

Veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury won three Stanley Cup championships in 13 years with he Pittsburgh Penguins. Will he win another with the Vegas Golden Knights? Photo by Eric J. Fowler

On Wednesday, the Golden Knights won their first playoff game by defeating the visiting Los Angeles Kings, 1-0, in front of an overflow crowd of 18, 479 at T-Mobile Arena (the seating capacity for hockey is listed at 17,500).

Defenseman Shea Theodore beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on a long shot at 3:23 of the first period to notch the first goal in playoff history for the Vegas franchise. VGK goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who won three Stanley Cup championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins over a span of 13 years, made 30 saves to backstop his team into Stanley Cup playoff history.

The Golden Knights followed up that history-making feat by edging the visiting Kings, 2-1, in a double overtime thriller. Theodore drew the secondary assist on teammate Erik Haula’s game-winning goal with 4:38 left in the second overtime period.

Fleury continued his mastery by stopping 29 of 30 shots as the VGK racked up a 56-30 advantage in shots. Quick, in absorbing the loss, made 54 stops.

The best-of-seven series, with the Golden Knights holding a 2-0 edge, shifts to Los Angeles for the next two games on April 15 and April 17. The next three games, if necessary, alternate between the two cities.

The Golden Knights possess a 35-5-2 record when scoring the first goal in the game. They are 2-0 when doing such so far in their first playoff games in franchise history.

Alex Tuch gave Vegas a 1-0 lead in the first period of Friday’s game before Paul LaDue tied the game for the Kings with a second period goal. The game was scores through two full periods after that – and nearly a third.

Media coverage will be intense for the remainder of the series. The NBCSN, ATRM and PRIT networks are handling telecasts.

The Golden Knights are only one of three NHL teams to offer Spanish-language broadcasts.

Not surprisingly, the city of Las Vegas is going crazy over the city’s first professional sports team (the NFL Raiders are coming in 2020). The replica 150-foott tall Statue of Liberty, a landmark on the Strip at the foot of the MGM Resorts’ New York New York Hotel & Casino, received a makeover by donning a huge 6,000-square foot Golden Knights jersey to help fans get into the playoff spirit.

Former San Diego Gulls defenseman Shea Theodore has played a prominent role in the success of the first-year Vegas Golden Knights. Photo by Eric J. Fowler

Man of the match

Theodore, a fourth-year pro, leads the Golden Knights with two points in the playoffs.

The 22-year-old British Columbia native was acquired in an offseason trade with the Ducks to guarantee the Golden Knights would select Clayton Stoner in the NHL Expansion Draft, thus protecting many of Anaheim’s top defensemen.

The defenseman has suddenly turned offensive when the season counts most.

Theodore’s name should be familiar to local hockey fans. He played in 76 games for the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ affiliate in the American Hockey League, from 2015-17 while also dressing 53 times for NHL games.

He collected 14 goals and 57 points with the Gulls before earning full-time promotion to the Ducks in 2016-17. He had five goals and 17 points in his two years with Anaheim before being traded to Vegas.

Theodore spent eight games with the Chicago Wolves, the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate, to start this season before joining the Vegas lineup full time.

In 61 NHL regular season games for the Golden Knights, the ex-Gull fan favorite collected six goals and 23 assists for 29 points, one power play goal and one game-winning goal.

He recorded three shots, two blocks and one hit in Wednesday’s playoff game, including the history-making game-winning goal.

Stoner, an eight-year NHL veteran, appeared in three games with the Gulls during the 2016-17 season. He was the center of controversy in May 2013 after illegally killing a Grizzly Bear during a hunting trip in British Colombia — and posting photos on social media.

He spent the 2017-18 season on injured reserve.

Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant called Wednesday’s series opener a “good, hard hockey game.”

“I thought it was a good playoff game with two tight teams playing real good hockey,” Gallant said when addressing the media on Thursday. “I think it’s going to be a good-battled series. I don’t see any 6-0 games or 7-0 games, for sure. I see two teams that are going to start playing good, solid defensive hockey.

“I continue to tell my players to play our game. It’s playoff hockey, guys don’t want to make that mistake and they want to manage the puck real well. It’s a fine line. When you get a chance to make those plays, let’s make those plays. The goaltending is so good now you’ve got to go east-west a lot in the game today. Make your plays, make strong plays. If they don’t work, back-check real hard.

“I would love to play the same way we played last night. Definitely. I thought we (did) a great job. I thought we minimized and didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. I thought we had a lot of energy. A little bit in the third period I thought L.A. kind of took it to us a little bit. But overall, I thought we eliminated their scoring chances and played good, solid hockey.”

The Golden Knights will be out to prove their 2-0 series lead is no fluke when the teams rematch in Los Angeles.

The Kings were without defenseman Drew Doughty in Game 2. Doughty served a one game suspension handed down by the league for an illegal hit to the head on VGK wing William Carrier in Game 1.

The Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Dec. 31 non-divisional contest. Could the teams rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals? Photo by Eric J. Fowler

Add Stanley Cup playoffs
This year’s NHL playoffs could offer some surprises. All eight playoff series have started — two of the lower-seeded teams came up with victories in Game 1 and one more lower-seeded team posting a win in Game 2 of its series.

The third-seeded Sharks shut out the second-seeded Ducks, 3-0, on Thursday to take a 1-0 lead in their series. Evander Kane, obtained in a late season trade with the Buffalo Sabres, scored two goals in his first trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs in more than eight years in the league.

Brent Burns scored the other goal while Martin Jones stopped 25 shots to record the shutout win and hand the Bay Area team home ice advantage for the remainder of the series.

Game 2 is scheduled Saturday in Anaheim.

This is the first time the two California teams have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2009.

The soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders drew the ire of Bay Area hockey fans by tweeting congratulations to the Golden Knights instead of the Sharks for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Sharks’ response: Just win, baby!


More Stanley Cup playoffs
The two other playoff series in the Western Conference include Nashville against the Colorado Avalanche and the reborn Winnipeg Jets against the Minnesota Wild. The Jets lead their series 2-0 while the Predators have a 1-0 lead.

The four Eastern Conference playoff series pit Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils, and Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Blue Jackets, Lighting and Bruins all lead their respective series 1-0 while the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series is tied 1-1.

The Stanley Cup playoffs feature four rounds. Television carriers include NBC-TV, NBCSN, CNBC, USA and the NHL Network.

The NHL Awards are scheduled June 20 in Las Vegas. The 2018 NHL Entry Draft is scheduled June 22-23 in Dallas.


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