Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Getting Ice Hockey in High Schools

When a lot of people think of Texas high school, they think of football. However, theirs a small but growing number of high schools across the state that have ice hockey as a club sport. My old high school Flower Mound Marcus has a club team that I was team manager during my junior and senior year's of high school. Tomorrow, I've got a meeting with Marcus Principal Gary Shafferman to discuss how to promote the sport at the high school level, also other major things like how to get attention from the UIL (University Interscholastic League) on the possibly in the future getting ice hockey as an official sanctioned sport in Texas High Schools.

This season in the Dallas area, they are 62 teams in the Dallas area (29 Varsity, 33 JV). This league may be one of the biggest hidden gyms in the sports in the state. Developing players like Austin Smith who played for Jesuit who moved on to play for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, who was 2ND in team scoring for the Vees while helping lead to the BCHL League Championship last season. Currently he playing in his first year for Coalgate University located in New York State, in addition to playing well in high school, junior, and college careers, he was also drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 5TH round of the 2007 NHL Draft. This is a great example of players that are starting to develop across the state and the counting improvement. Even if he doesn't get the chance to play in the NHL, he's creating a path for future players to follow to play well and succeed. He's the state's Best example that a hockey player from Texas can get his name out their.

Other players of note include Kyle Clement who played for Flower Mound High. Right now, he's playing in his 2nd season with the Alexandria Blizzard (NAHL), he's style of play is like a Steve Ott type of player, a pest who is finding ways to increase his scoring ability. Last year, he had 12 G and 11 A in 47 games, this year he's upped to 14 G and 13 A through 44 games played this season with 9 games left to play this season. Clement also had 2 goals and 3 assist in 12 playoff games last year helping the Blizzard to a surprising run to the Robertson Cup Championship round robin last year after a terrible start to the season last year. Right now, the Blizzard are currently 4th in a very competitive central division which have teams like the Bismarck Bobcats, North Iowa Outlaws and this year's big surprise expansion team Owatonna Express.

Outside of Dallas, their are currently leagues in Houston and Austin. The league in Houston called the Interscholastic Hockey League. Currently the league has 15 teams in the league this season, some of the biggest name teams are the Clearlake Falcons and the Woodlands Highlanders. This year, the Clear Lake Falcons are currently 10-7-4 and 2ND in the Houston area South Division while the Woodland Highlanders are currently 3rd in the North Division with a 9-6-3 record. As for stats leaders this year, Kevin Engelking with a huge lead in the scoring lead with 77 points, which is an astounding 24 points over Austin High teammate Taylor Wind. For goalies, Austin freshmen Ashlynne Rando currently has a 1.36 GAA and a 90.36 SV%.

Down in Austin, the league is even smaller, their only 5 teams playing this year. Their has never been a team from Austin that has been that's been able to compete with the Dallas and even the Houston Teams. The league scorer this year in Austin is Brad Johnson of Round Rock I.S.D. with 27 points (15G, 12A) through only 12 games into the season with only 4 games left. Theirs a clear reason that the Austin area is not that good is because the number of rinks in Austin is very low right now and their is not a major need in the are to build more rinks.

It's amazing to me how this league can survive unless the league takes and the Austin area takes ice hockey seriously. Now, I don't know very much about the leagues in Houston and Austin, however the gap between the Dallas Teams and rest of the state is big and if this team which is based in Sugar Land makes the State Tournament this year, hopefully we will have a team that can challenge the Dallas area teams.

Websites used in this post.

North American Hockey League:
University Interscholastic League:
British Columbia Hockey League:
Interscholastic Hockey League:
Penticton Vees Hockey Team:

Metroplex High School Hockey League:
Once on the hockey page, click on all Amateur, then scroll down to the Dr. Pepper Starscenter webpage, then click on AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League

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