By Brian Stanley
Featuring youth hockey players from the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Barbara Ice Hawks’ captured the first two championship titles in the club’s young history this season.
“That’s the first championships for our club,” said Johan Frisell, head coach of the Peewee and the Midget teams. “It’s super fun to see the kids get rewarded for all the hard work they put in.”
Founded in 2016, the Ice Hawks’ Peewee (12U-BB) and Midget (16U-A) teams battled through the field of Southern California Amateur Hockey Association (SCAHA) teams for the opportunity to play for the top prize of their divisions in March.
“We had a small team; a big part of this team drove 40 minutes to participate,” Frisell said.
Represented locally by James Neary and Dylan Featherson of Santa Ynez High School and Cody Turner and Johan Marmorstein of Dunn School in Los Olivos, the Ice Hawks’ Midget program wrapped up the regular season on top of the standings with a 12-1-2 record.
“I felt we really worked for it. We crushed our region because we had that motivation to get a banner for our rink,” Turner said. “I’m really proud of my team.”
The 16U-A team then muscled its way through the playoffs, winning all four contests for the opportunity to face the Ontario Moose in the SCAHA championship game.
“For a lot of the kids it’s their last time playing, so It’s a great way to go out and win,” Frisell said.
One of those players getting his final rink time with the Ice Hawks due to age restrictions is Turner, who also plays baseball for the Dunn Earwigs.
“Turner is the number one utility player on the team. He works harder than anyone else,” Frisell said. “It’s going to be really hard to replace any of the kids that are aging up.”
The Ice Hawks continued to show their dominance, only allowing the Ontario Moose two goals in the 9-2 victory for the Southern California crown and a chance at a state title.
“Marmorstein played pretty much every game at goalkeeper for us,” Frisell said. “He works hard and never complains.”
Neary led Santa Barbara’s defense in controlling the puck over its opponents, giving the offense opportunities to set up shots on goal. The Ice Hawks scored 32 goals while only giving up nine goals against.
“Neary has developed a ton this year to be a great defenseman,” Frisell said.
Advancing with the Ice Hawks to the California Amateur Hockey Association State (CAHA) Final Four from the south were the Moose, to square off with the top two teams from the Northern California Amateur Hockey Association (NCAHA), the Tri Valley Blue Devils 1 and Tri Valley Blue Devils 2.
The Ice Hawks finished third in the 16U-A state tournament behind the champions Tri Valley Blue Devils 2 and runner-up Tri Valley Blue Devils 1 at Solar4America Ice in San Jose.
Collin Bowman, who attends Santa Ynez Charter School, led the Ice Hawks Peewee program to the SCAHA 12U-BB crown, picking up a win over the California Goldrush 4-2.
“Colin was outstanding this year,” Frisell said. “He was the leading goal scorer in the league and the assistant captain on the team. He’s a humble, hard-working kid with a super attitude.”
Accompanied by the Goldrush, the Peewee Ice Hawks set out to San Jose for the state tournament to face off with the Santa Rosa Flyers and the Fresno Jr. Monsters.
The Ice Hawks finished second at the CAHA state championships. Santa Barbara came out hot, sweeping the 12U-BB round robin play in the tournament.
The sweep set the Peewee Ice Hawks up for a rematch with the Flyers in the championship game, whom they had beaten 4-3 to start round robin. The Ice Hawks couldn’t hold off the Flyers the second time, falling 3-2 in the championship game.
Other Santa Ynez Valley area athletes playing for the Ice Hawks include Adam Marmorstein for the 14U Bantam team and, on the 10U-B Squirts, Hudson Laux and Mason McBeth.
Coming off the two championship wins, the Ice Hawks are back on the ice in the Memorial Shoot Out held in Irvine on Memorial Day weekend.
The Ice Hawks are also preparing for their next season in the SCAHA, holding tryouts June 14 for players ages 6 to 16 at Ice in Paradise in Goleta. The Peewee and Midget teams will be back at work defending their SCAHA championships with the season starts up in August.