Scripps Ranch High School head coach Greg Friedman admitted he was getting a little nervous as Monday’s CIF-Metro Conference roller hockey Kiwanis/Don Cerone Memorial Cup championship game played out in the early going between the top-seeded Falcons and the second-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos.
Scripps Ranch, bidding for its second perfect season in school history, trailed by scores of 3-1 and 5-3 during a frantic-paced first period. The game was tied 6-6 entering the final period.
But fate has a way of finding the true course and a dominant third period by the Falcons handed the team a 9-6 win and 18-0 championship season in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Escondido Sports Center.
“We needed to play our tempo, slowing the game down, and not their tempo, which was fast,” explained Friedman, who previously guided the Falcons to a magical 22-0 finish in 2004.
“Senior Cody Sherman then took over. He wasn’t going to let us lose in his last game with us.”
Sherman proved the right tonic after an ailing opening period by collecting three goals and one assist in the final two periods as Scripps Ranch racked up six goals, including the final four goals of the contest. He finished the game with three goals and two assists to pace the Falcons in scoring.
“I think championship teams are made by overcoming adversity,” said Sherman, whose explosiveness on the roller hockey court comes from playing Tier 1 18U ice hockey with the Jr. Ducks in Orange County.
“We had a rough start, but it’s a testament to the character of this team that we came back to win.”
Sherman has played parts of four seasons with the Falcons. When he rejoined the team near the end of the season after his ice hockey commitments were fulfilled, it made an already strong Scripps Ranch team even stronger.
The Falcons needed all of Sherman’s strengths and an inner will of their own to overcome the team they were facing in the defending Kiwanis Cup champion Broncos, who let it be known from the onset they were not willing to cede their championship so easily.
Miles Cook gave the Broncos (15-3) a quick 1-0 lead with just 34 seconds elapsed in the game, assisted by Ike Frankel.
The Falcons responded on a goal by freshman Ben Ivey to tie the game at 2:24, assisted by Sherman.
But back-to-back goals by Nik Thomas and Frankel just as quickly propelled Rancho Bernardo to a 3-1 lead with 9:59 gone in the opening period.
Ben Ivey scored a power play goal for Scripps Ranch at the 11:33 mark and twin brother Jack Ivey fed Cody Ayers at 12:49 to tie the game 3-3.
But momentum continued to change hands as the Broncos ended the first period with a pair of unanswered goals to lead 5-3 on the scoreboard. A goal by Thomas, assisted by Frankel, made the score 4-3 with 4:28 to play. Colton Clapham followed with a goal, again assisted by Frankel, to provide RB with a two-goal lead with 3:34 left in the period.
The Falcons out-scored the Broncos 3-1 in a more defensively played second period to tie the game at 6-all.
Sherman notched his first goal of the game just seconds after a Scripps Ranch power play had expired to halve the Falcons’ deficit on the scoreboard. Cody Ayers then scored a power play goal on a seeing-eye blast from just inside the center red line to knot the game at 5-5. Sherman notched the assist.
But the Broncos continued to kick. Just 46 seconds later, RB had a 6-5 lead after Cook scored an unassisted goal to dim the Falcons’ championship hopes.
But those championship hopes were on the rise again after Sherman, while falling to the floor, managed to poke the puck past RB goaltender Tyler Boggess from a very sharp angle to tie the game again. Jack Ivey was credited with the assist.
Sherman left it all on the floor in the third period both offensively and defensively. In essence, he willed the Falcons to win, and they did.
The third period began ominously for Scripps Ranch, however, as Rancho Bernardo was handed a power play after Sherman was penalized for tripping. The Falcons managed to kill the penalty, which took time off the clock.
Once out of the sin bin, Sherman made amends by giving Scripps Ranch its first lead of the game with 6:56 left in the period off a pass from Jack Ivey.
Kyle Fraser made it 8-6 with 5:47 left by scoring an unassisted goal.
Scripps Ranch iced the game with 3:28 to play on a beautifully-executed two-on-one break, with Ben Ivey calmly potting the goal off a pass from Fraser.
The Broncos showed life with 48 seconds left when the Falcons had to put two men in the penalty box. Rancho Bernardo then pulled its goaltender for a super power play.
But neither team scored and the game ended with Scripps Ranch players celebrating en masse on the floor as the final buzzer sounded.
After the ceremonial handshakes were concluded, Sherman received the championship trophy at the scorer’s table and promptly skated to his teammates with the trophy held high in the air.
The Falcons were perfect – again.
The conference championship was the fourth in school history for Scripps Ranch, which previously won titles from 2003-05 but had been waiting nearly a decade and a half to win another.
Friedman said the most recent championship might be the best.
“Seeing that it took 14 years to win this one and being with this group of kids for the past seven years, since some of them were fifth and sixth graders, this is pretty sweet,” he said.
“It’s a testament to everyone on our club on how much they’ve grown as players over the last four years,” Sherman said. “I can look back to where I started as a freshman to now … I’m a champion.”
Rancho Bernardo coach Joey Gelsomino was sad to see the season end in a loss but remained proud of the never-quit effort put forth by his team.
“We got lost with our skill,” the RB coach said. “They are good and you have to respect their space. We tried to break it down one period at a time. They got the better of us in the second and third periods.
“I’m just really proud of all our kids. They all helped out Tyler, our goalie. He played like a rock.
“This was the last game for our seniors. I told them to go out there and have fun. The score didn’t turn out in their favor but they did the best they could.”
Ben Ivey (three goals) and Jack Ivey (three assists) combined for six points in the championship game while Ayers scored twice and Fraser collected a goal and assist.
Scripps goaltender Taylor Cady settled down after the first period to allow just one goal over the duration of the game to earn the win.
Frankel led the Broncos in the scoring column with a goal and four assists while Cook and Thomas each scored two goals. Clapham had one goal while Alex Pang collected on assist.
Westview rolled to a 10-8 season finish after topping an undermanned Eastlake team, 20-0, in the preceding third-place game.
Lyushen Loshak led the Wolverines with five goals and two assists while Oliver Polonichko recorded four goals and one assist. A total of 10 Westview players collected points in the game, with eight scoring goals.
Kelso Cook racked up two goals and two assists while Kyle Bucholtz had two goals and one assist. Mike Chua collected one goal and three assists while Andrew Chua scored two goals. Rylie Lissebeck and Tyler Lee each scored one goal.
The Wolverines led 9-0 after the first period and 17-0 through two periods.
Westview could easily have been in Monday’s championship game save for a 4-3 loss to Rancho Bernardo in last Wednesday’s semifinals, a game in which the Wolverines had two jam sessions in front of the RB net in the dying minute of the game.
“A little disappointed in the semifinals,” Westview coach Ron Smith said. “We’re a young team; we learned a lot this season.”
Wolverine freshman goaltender Matthew Mahlow was excited to finish the game with two saves and two assists.
Eastlake finished the season 21-5.
“After starting 0-2 to the season and making it to the semifinals, this was an accomplishment for this team,” Eastlake coach Rich Haislip said.
Scripps Ranch eliminated Eastlake from championship contention with a 17-4 victory in last Wednesday’s semifinals.
“They’re outta sight offensively,” Haislip said in complimenting the Falcons. “We tried our best; they were the better team.”
Eastlake will attempt to reload for next season following the graduation of 10 seniors, including back-to-back district scoring leader Luke Killeen.
The fourth-seeded Titans were missing Killeen as well as junior Braden Mayer, the runner-up for this year’s district scoring title, and goaltender Rob Hendrickson.
The absence of all three players was definitely felt in Monday’s lopsided loss.
Mayer scored all four of Eastlake’s goals in its 17-4 semifinal loss to Scripps Ranch on Feb. 27. He collected a game-high four goals and three assists in the Titans’ 8-7 quarterfinal-round victory against the fifth-seeded Patrick Henry Patriots in a game played at the Castle Park High School outdoor rink.
Killeen had four goals in the playoff win over Patrick Henry.
“We’ll have Braden back for his senior year,” Haislip said. “He’ll be the core that we build around. As always, we’ll look to field a competitive team.”
KIWANIS CUP PLAYOFF SCORING
Final 2019 Playoffs
Ben Ivey (Scripps Ranch) 13 goals, 5 assists – 18 points
Kyle Fraser (Scripps Ranch) 8 goals, 6 assists – 14 points
Jack Ivey (Scripps Ranch) 2 goals, 12 assists – 14 points
Ike Frankel (Rancho Bernardo) 5 goals, 7 assists – 12 points
Lyushen Loshak (Westview) 9 goals, 2 assists – 11 points
Cody Sherman (Scripps Ranch) 8 goals, 3 assists – 11 points
Braden Mayer (Eastlake) 8 goals, 3 assists – 11 points
Cody Ayers (Scripps Ranch) 4 goals, 4 assists – 8 points
Michael Little (Poway) 3 goals, 5 assists – 8 points
Nik Thomas (Rancho Bernardo) 5 goals, 2 assists – 7 points
Ben Louie (Poway) 5 goals, 2 assists – 7 points
Jonathon Puno (Poway) 5 goals, 2 assists – 7 points
Brandon Trimble (Westview) 3 goals, 4 assists – 7 points
Jaime Ormeno (Escondido Charter) 3 goals, 4 assists – 7 points
Kyle Bucholtz (Westview) 5 goals, 1 assist – 6 points
Oliver Polonichko (Westview) 4 goals, 2 assists – 6 points
Miles Cook (Rancho Bernardo) 3 goals, 3 assists – 6 points
Bryce Mendoza (Escondido Charter) 3 goals, 3 assists – 6 points
Ashton Domi (Escondido Charter) 3 goals, 3 assists – 6 points
Matthew Voegel (Patrick Henry) 4 goals, 1 assists – 5 points
Carter Schrader (Poway) 3 goals, 2 assists – 5 points
Joon Bae (Scripps Ranch) 3 goals, 2 assists – 5 points
Tyler Lee (Westview) 3 goals, 2 assists – 5 points
Kelso Cook (Westview) 3 goals, 2 assists – 5 points
Alex Pang (Rancho Bernardo) 2 goal, 3 assists – 5 points
Colton Clapham (Rancho Bernardo) 4 goals, 0 assists – 4 points
Luke Killeen (Eastlake) 4 goals, 0 assists – 4 points
Trevor Fune (Hilltop) 4 goals, 0 assists – 4 points
Andrew Chua (Westview) 4 goals, 0 assists -4 points
#5 Ruben Allen (Patrick Henry) 1 goal, 3 assists – 4 points
Mike Chua (Westview) 1 goal, 3 assists – 4 points
Martin Mari (Castle Park) 3 goals, 0 assists – 3 points
Sam Moorehead (Patrick Henry) 3 goals, 0 assists – 3 points
Emily Elliot (Escondido Charter) 2 goals, 1 assist – 3 points
Aaron Lowry (Scripps Ranch) 2 goals, 1 assist – 3 points
Kristin Lambertson (Hilltop) 1 goal, 2 assist – 3 points
Matt Russell (Patrick Henry) 1 goal, 2 assists – 3 points
Brett Miller (Patrick Henry) 1 goal, 2 assists – 3 points
Josh Aldridge (Escondido Charter) 0 goals, 3 assists – 3 points
Israel Yates (Scripps Ranch) 2 goals, 0 assists – 2 points
Rudy Lee (Scripps Ranch) 2 goals, 0 assists – 2 points
Kiril Yamplosky (Rancho Bernardo) 0 goals, 2 assists – 2 points
Matthew Mahlow (Westview) 0 goals, 2 assists – 2 points
Tyler Daniel (Patrick Henry) 0 goals, 2 assists – 2 points
DUCKS’ MISERY COULD OPEN DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR AHL GULLS IN UPCOMING CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS
Unless things change dramatically, it doesn’t appear at this point that a Southern California team will be involved in this year’s NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Los Angeles Kings sit dead last in the Western Conference standings; the Anaheim Ducks are directly above them.
Eight teams in both the Western Conference and Eastern Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Stanley Cup qualifying format includes the top three teams from each division, plus the next two teams with the best records as wild cards.
As of Sunday, March 3, the Calgary Flames (41-17-7, 89 points), San Jose Sharks (39-19-8, 85 points) and Vegas Golden Knights (36-26-5, 77 points) topped the Pacific Division standings while the Winnipeg Jets (39-22-4, 82 points), Nashville Predators (38-25-5, 81 points) and St. Louis Blues (34-25-6, 74 points) topped the Central Division.
The Western Conference’s two wild card teams at the moment would be the Dallas Stars (33-27-5) and Minnesota Wild (32-27-7), both with 71 standings points.
Non-qualifiers would be, in order of descending standings points, the Arizona Coyotes (32-28-5, 69 points), Colorado Avalanche (28-26-12, 68 points), Edmonton Oilers (28-30-7, 63 points), Chicago Blackhawks (27-30-9, 63 points), Vancouver Canucks (27-30-9, 63 points), Ducks (25-32-9, 59 points) and Kings (24-33-8, 56 points).
In order to make the playoffs, the Ducks would have to pass six teams ahead of them and seven teams for the Kings.
The Coyotes and Avalanche have the best chance of slipping into the playoffs among the current clubs not making the playoff cut.
The Coyotes are riding a six-game winning streak.
April is still a month off but trying to make up so much ground in a short time might be too difficult for the Ducks and Kings.
Anaheim, for instance, has 17 regular season games remaining.
The Kings pushed the panic button early in the season by firing head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4 when the team had garnered just nine standings points, fewest in the league along with the Florida Panthers.
It took the Ducks a bit longer to finally hit the panic button when they fired coach Randy Carlyle on Feb. 10 and installed general manager Bob Murray as interim head coach.
Carlyle’s firing came after the Ducks had lost their seventh consecutive games and 19 of their last 21 contests to fall like a rock to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Upon taking command, Murray said he wanted time on the bench to see exactly what was going on with a team that appeared to be under-performing given the talent on its roster.
Murray suggested several moves could be made in advance of the NHL’s Feb. 25 trading deadline in an effort to get the team going in the right direction.
“What has happened here lately and how we have played, it was time for change,” Murray said during a conference call. “Some people thought I waited far too long but this team has a history of coming on and charging late. I realized it wasn’t going to happen a few days ago that it wasn’t going to happen.”
Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli addressed the coaching change in a letter to season ticket-holders:
“By placing Bob behind the bench for the remainder of the season, he will gain unique insights into the team which will enable him to best determine the changes that need to be made,” the Samuelis said jointly. “Changes are always difficult but you can rest assured that ownership and management will do a thorough and thoughtful assessment of our team and make decisions that are in the best interests of the team for both the near term and long term. We are confident that we can turn this around quickly.”
The Ducks responded with three wins in their next four games after Murray was installed on the bench to seemingly crawl back in the playoff race. But five consecutive losses have since pushed the Ducks deeper down the conference standings.
The Ducks’ underlying problems may be greater than Murray originally envisioned.
Murray said a new head coach would be named after the conclusion of the team’s season. The Ducks may not need to look farther for a new bench boss than the head coach of their top developmental affiliate in the American Hockey League, Dallas Eakins of the San Diego Gulls.
The Ducks have already made extensive use of their development player pipeline with the Gulls. Some 24 players on the Gulls roster have spent time with the Ducks this season.
Eakins, who recently logged his 300th AHL win and has coached parts of two seasons with the NHL Edmonton Oilers, would be familiar with the organization’s top prospects, their strengths and how they could help the parent club.
Goaltender Kevin Boyle, a third-year pro who had inherited the starting role with the Gulls this season, made his NHL debut Feb. 9 with the Ducks in a 6-2 loss in Philadelphia. The 26-year old New Jersey native allowed two goals in two periods of ice duty to finish the game with a 3.00 goals-against average and solid .923 save percentage.
Boyle was summoned from San Diego on Feb. 8 after Anaheim starter John Gibson suffered an unspecified upper body injury in a prior game against Ottawa. Chad Johnson drew the start in the Feb. 9 game but was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 first-period shots.
Carlyle was pulled the next day.
Boyle remained with the Ducks following Carlyle’s departure and appeared in five games for the parent club before being reassigned to the Gulls last week.
Boyle picked up his first NHL win – a 1-0 shutout of the visiting Canucks in Murray’s head coaching debut with the team on Feb. 13.
Boyle recorded a 1-3 record in his five games with the Ducks, posting a very respectable 2.17 GAA and .928 save percentage,
In 31 appearances for the Gulls this season, Boyle has recorded a 19-8 record with a 2.80 GAA and .908 save percentage. He represented the Pacific Division All-Star Team at the midseason AHL All-Star Classic Jan. 27-28 in Springfield, Mass.
Boyle appeared in three games at the AHL All-Star Challenge as the Pacific Division team finished 1-2, ironically defeating the eventual champion North Division in round-robin play.
The Ducks’ misery could lead to opportunity for the Gulls. Should the Ducks fail to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, several players on the Ducks’ roster would be eligible to compete for the Gulls in the AHL’s upcoming Calder Cup playoffs, including Brendan Guhle, Max Jones, Troy Terry, Kevin Roy and Jaycob Megna.
Boyle, Maxime Comtois, Jones, Isac Lundestrom, Josh Mahura, Sam Steel and Terry have made their NHL debuts with Anaheim this season.
The Gulls already rank as the top scoring team in the 31-team league, so enhanced firepower could only elevate the team’s chances of progressing deep into the playoffs.
Despite playing with an unsettled roster due to frequent player movement (and trades) with the parent Ducks, the Gulls have managed to stay in the thick of the AHL’s Pacific Division playoff race.
The top four of the seven teams in the division qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs.
Following Saturday’s 3-0 win in Stockton, the Gulls (30-17-3-3) sit in a second-place tied with the San Jose Barracuda (30-16-2-4) with 66 standings points — five standings point behind the division leading Bakersfield Condors (34-16-2-1, 71 points).
The top four teams in the division standings are currently separated by 11 points; the top five teams are separated by 14 points.
The Gulls are six standings points ahead of the fourth place Colorado Eagles (28-22-3-1, 60 points) and nine points ahead of the fifth place Tucson Roadrunners (25-20-5-2), last year’s division champion.
The Gulls, who have used 52 players this season, have 15 regular season games remaining and will be out to avoid a late season meltdown that caused them to miss last year’s Calder Cup playoffs.
The Gulls – 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and 22-6-2-2 in their last 32 games overall — host Stockton this Wednesday (March 6) after splitting games with the Heat last weekend on the road. Stockton (23-26-4-1) desperately needs a win in a bid to crawl within striking distance of a playoff berth. The Heat is currently nine points behind the Eagles.
The Gulls host Colorado for two games this weekend – Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9.
The Gulls then play at Bakersfield on March 13. The Condors took flight up the division standings buoyed by a franchise-record 17-game winning streak (tied for second longest in AHL history) and have started a new one after derailing the visiting Barracuda, 5-2, last Saturday.
The Gulls will be seeking long-term consistency in the wake of the team’s club-record 15-game points streak that saw the San Diego team vault from the depths of the division standings to second place.
The upcoming three home games could set the tone for the rest of the season.
The Gulls have three regular season games remaining with San Jose and two with Bakersfield. Those five games will go a long way in determining which team earns the top seed for the upcoming Pacific Division playoffs.
The Gulls showed their resiliency to bounce back in posting a 5-4 win over the visiting San Antonio Rampage in front of a sellout crowd of 12,920 on Feb. 23 after trailing 2-0 deep into the second period. Kevin Roy and Simon Benoit scored goals just 15 seconds apart to tie the game and jump-start the Gulls’ scoring spreed. The Rampage scored its final goal at the game-ending horn after the hosts had the game firmly under control.
“The support in San Diego is amazing,” Roy said. “On a weekend game like that, you get 12,000 fans backing us up, even when we were down 2-0. They went crazy when it went 2-2. It just gives us a lot of energy on the bench and a lot of energy as team.”
Eakins said he didn’t have to say anything to motivate his team.”
“The players are beating me to it now, which is a great, great sign,” the Gulls bench boss said. “They weren’t rattled at all and we just stuck with our initial game plan.”
NHL or bust
While the Ducks and Kings hover at the bottom of the Western Conference, standings, everything appears rosier for Vegas Golden Knights in their sophomore season.
The first-year VGK were the envy of the hockey world last season en route to recording a runner-up finish in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Washington Capitals.
The Golden Knights stunned their established NHL brethren with an 8-1 start to the season and division-clinching 51-24-7 record. The expansion VGK franchise set numerous NHL records for an expansion team.
The fun was just beginning for what some might have considered a bunch of NHL rejects as they proceeded to eliminate the Kings, Sharks and Jets in the opening three rounds of the playoffs before losing in five games to the Capitals in the finals.
The Golden Knights haven’t gotten off to the fast start they did in their inaugural season, as many expected, but they have improved over the course of the 2018-19 season.
Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch and William Karlsson, all heroes from last season, currently lead Vegas in team scoring while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has posted a 32-19-0 record with a 2.52 GAA and .911 save percentage with eight shutouts.
The NHL’s Pacific Division will welcome the still unnamed Seattle expansion team in 2021-22 season. The VGK will obviously serve as a blueprint for the league’s 32nd team.
Birds of a feather
The Gulls celebrated the Ducks’ milestone 25th anniversary season on Feb. 1 with an evening showcasing some of the NHL team’s founding stars.
Goaltender Guy Hebert, the first pick by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft, dropped the ceremonial puck in front of 11,931 fans to kick start an eventual 6-1 win over the arch rival Ontario Reign.
Hebert, who was originally selected 159th overall in the 1987 NHL Draft by the St. Louis Blues, played eight seasons with the Mighty Ducks. He appeared in 441 regular season games with Anaheim and 13 playoff games, recording 173 regular season wins and four playoff victories.
Wild Wing, the Ducks’ mascot, also made an appearance at the Gulls’ home nest.
According to information posted on Wikipedia, Hebert, a native of Troy, N.Y., was selected to the United States national team for the 1990 Goodwill Games, winning the silver medal in a shootout against Russia. He played for the United States at the 1994 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Italy, as the U.S. team beat Russia for the first time since the Miracle on Ice in 1980, and Hebert earned USA Hockey’s Bob Johnson Award.
Hebert played for the United States team that won the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and also for the United States at the 1998 Winter Olympics, where the Americans finished sixth.
The Ducks have been very successful on the ice following their inception, The Ducks advanced to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, losing in seven games to the New Jersey Devils. The Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators in five games to emerge victorious in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals.
Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Jean-Sebastien Giguere rank among the Ducks’ all-time top players.
Kariya was selected by the Ducks as the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft and joined the team in the shortened 1994-95 season after representing his native Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympic Games.
Kariya would play nine seasons for the Ducks during his 15-year NHL career, helping Anaheim advance to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals in his final season with the Mighty Ducks.