Jr Coyotes 15 team make Arizona history as the first Tier I team to advance to the USA Hockey National Tournament through the Rocky Mountain District playoffs.
Some say the jump from Bantam to Midget hockey is the greatest challenge for a young hockey player. No need to mention size differences, age differences, or the region the team hails from, and challenges are ever present during every season. This year for the Jr Coyotes 15 squad led by Head Coach Mike De Angelis, with help from Shane Doan, and Matt Shott began as any other season would, with a team tryout, player selection, and then long months of hard work, team work, and determination.
Playing in the nation’s top-level youth league, the Tier I Elite League, the Jr Coyotes faced elite level competition every single game. The team went 14-6-1 in league play beating teams like Belle Tire, Pittsburgh Elite, and Anaheim Ducks and with regional wins against Dallas Stars Elite and Colorado Thunderbirds ending the season ranked 12th in the entire nation, you could say the season was a success.
The team headed to Vancouver, BC which was one of the high points of the season going 3-1 against some of the strongest Midget Minor academy teams in western Canada including the highly ranked Burnaby Winter Club. At the local state level, the Jr. Coyotes defeated the Arizona Bobcats to win the Arizona State Championship Title for the 2nd year in a row to advance to the Rocky Mountain District tournament where they then faced off against Dallas Stars Elite, Colorado Rampage, and West Coast Renegades playing undefeated to win the tournament to advance to the USA Hockey National tournament.
“We will be the underdogs in most games, but we have proven we can beat anyone above us this year by bringing our best game.” De Angelis says about the level of matchups in the National Tournament schedule. “We have played very well in each event this season, and we look to focus on our special teams with power play and penalty killing. We cannot be successful without being very strong in these areas in Detroit. I expect us to compete hard, stay close and look for success in the 3rd periods.”
Assistant coach Shane Doan, adds “It was great to spend the entire season with these boys and be able to help coach them at all their games and practices.” De Angelis says, “It was an exceptional experience with Doaner and I learned so much from him on and off the ice.” Coach Shott continues by saying, “Being a part of this team has far exceeded my expectations. I am beyond excited for this group to be the first Tier 1 15 Only team from AZ to earn their spot in Nationals! I know if they play the best they can, there is no doubt they will find success at Natty’s. We may have been given a tough schedule, but difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations, and there is no better destination than being National Champions!
You could say the staff leading this young group of hard working players are very proud, but to listen to the parents who have supported their athlete for many years, you would hear an overwhelming confidence in the team with words of encouragement, pride, and optimism:
“These guys have worked hard all season and have come together as a team to reach their goal of competing for a National Championship. We are so proud of this team and thankful for our awesome coaches!”
“What sets these kids apart is that they genuinely like one another and that shines through especially in tough games. I love to see the way they battle for one another. “
“Every player on this team has an important role. And, when they set the tone, move the puck, and play together, they are definitely a tough team to beat.”
"Outstanding group of young men, many new to the team, who have come together, with the help of great coaching, to become a Team."
The team will travel to Plymouth, Michigan on Wednesday April 4th and begin competition on Thursday morning. For full schedule and results please go to https://nationals.usahockey.com/page/show/3821272-2018-youth-tier-i-15-only.
Let’s go Jr. Coyotes! We are a very proud program!