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Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) during the third period of the NHL Hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks at the Staples Center on Saturday, November 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif. The Kings defeated the Ducks 3-2 in overtime. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) during the third period of the NHL Hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks at the Staples Center on Saturday, November 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif. The Kings defeated the Ducks 3-2 in overtime. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)  Photo courtesy of patrickfallonphoto.com

 

AFTER TWO MONTHS, OUR RESIDENT HOCKEY LADY, NICHOLE CHOICE, IS BACK WITH HER ENTHUSIASTIC MUSINGS REGARDING NOT ONLY WHAT’S GOING ON WITH SOCAL’S KINGS AND DUCKS, BUT ALSO HAS A REPORT ABOUT A VERY SPECIAL YOUTH TEAM!

SO CHECK IT OUT AND ENJOY…

 

By Nichole Choice

Greeting, SoCal hockey enthusiasts! Welcome to 2017!

Our season’s in full swing, and there are lots to catch up on!

First, we want to take a moment to acknowledge this new year, a year that comes upon the heels of one heck of a tumultuous predecessor. We’re glad to be here, because some can not say the same.

In 2016 the hockey world lost at least 41 players of note, including Hall of Famer Gordie Howe last June at the age of 88, and on the other end of the generational spectrum we lost Marek Svatos, who at the mere age of 34 succumbed to mixed drug intoxication.

On the brighter side of things, the good news is that in a world full of uncertain change and upheaval, hockey continues to evolve. As The Hockey News reports, violence in the sport has statistically decreased, indicating, “There is a greater emphasis on speed and skill in today’s game that has resulted in most teams no longer choosing to employ designated fighters.” (Editor’s Note: Or what were commonly called “Goons”)

Sounds like evolution!

 

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A Duck battling a King during the 2014 NHL Winter Classic at Dodger Stadium. Photo courtesy of dailynews.com

 

During this unprecedented era of political and societal transition, we here at SoCal Sports Annals never lose focus of what’s at the core of all sports: Heart.

We care about hockey from the perspective of Southern Californians, but we also care from a local and intimate perspective as well.

For this reason, we want to highlight a league for the little ones, local to SoCal – Pasadena to be exact – and their mission and spirit of energy.

 

 

Now you know we couldn’t do an article like this without showing highlights of yesterday’s NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center; courtesy of YouTube

 

So let’s talk about the Pasadena Maple Leafs…

These athletes start at around age seven in this program. And the parents are frequently just as enthusiastic as the players themselves.

To get to the nature of this very special California community team, SoCal Sports Annals approached Gary Paul Andre, Esq., creator, premiere coach of the club, current Vice President, Parliamentarian, and SafeSport Liaison, and he describes their mission as thus:

“The Pasadena Maple Leafs exists to create character, courage, and citizenship through a youth hockey program and family friendly atmosphere.”

Sound like something the world can’t have too much of!

 

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Pasadena’s Maple Leafs (in blue) facing off against the Valencia Jr. Flyers. Photo courtesy of i1os.com

 

A Local Hockey Scene

Coach Andre elaborates further on the mission statement of the Pasadena Maple Leafs:

“We are committed to use sport, teamwork, camaraderie, recreation, and athleticism to facilitate the superior development of youth hockey players in an environment that is educational, inspirational, and promotes the development of player skills, tactics and systems. We endeavor to have our players master the skills of the game by acquiring the right physical, mental, and social skills.”

This is a refreshing approach to our youth, our health as a society as a whole, and a hope for an ever-increasing brighter future for humankind.

From where can this richness of love of sport and community derive In Andre’s case, he shares, his passion for hockey was first noticed at around the ages of seven or eight. “My parents were happy to see me participate in any sports. My mother is the hockey mom everyone hopes for,” he said.  “Until very recently, we would watch all the hockey games when we had the chance. Bette (his mother) would watch hockey games whenever they were broadcast.”

Andre’s passion for the sport of hockey and subsequent devotion to serving and encouraging youth via this platform date back to his rots as a Michigan native, hailing from Detroit, a city with many attributes including the famous reference of “Hockeytown”, wherein he once fell trough ice in Lake St. Clair and nearly drowned, but lived to tell the tale and mentor future generations of hockey athletes.

A very magical aspect of the Pasadena Maple Leafs (here’s the link to their site: http://www.pasadenamapleleafs.com)  includes their special needs program. They are not to be missed!

 

 

Check out Pasadena’s Maple Leafs in action against the Riverside Wildcats on October 8, 2016; courtesy of YouTube

 

The National Scene

Now that we see the roots of what the NHL can truly be about and what the future of the sport can very well possibly be, let’s check in on the big boys…

Who is on top right now at the top of the year? Who are the potential trophy contenders for this exciting NHL season? Because the game is on?

Well family, the truth is it is still anyone’s Stanley Cup trophy.

The 2017 NHL All-Star Game (held this past weekend) was certainly expected to highlight the gifts of the so-called climate challenged team, the Los Angeles Kings, “The NHL’s oldest warm-weather team” according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The Kings are celebrating their 50th anniversary in collaboration with McDonald’s giving away free Big Macs for every Kings win. For details, check out this link:

Hot Wallet.com’s details about Free McDonald’s Big Macs for every Kings win

Back to the season at hand: Who are the front-runners? Rumor has it, akin to our local sports team talk, the Toronto Maple Leafs are strong contenders!

How about Southern California?

 

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The Kings’ Jeff Carter during yesterday’s All-Star Game festivities. Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

 

The Anaheim Ducks

Well, they recently lost to the Edmonton Oilers. Hard!

L.A.’s Kings

It has not been an easy road of late for these Kings, having thankfully ended a four game losing streak last week against the New Jersey Devils. We shall see what the rest of the season holds, as the team certainly did slaughter the Carolina Hurricanes in their most recent game, so… Go, Kings, Go!

In Parting…

See you around next time, hockey family. We will soon be less than two months from the regular season’s conclusion and well-informed about who the top contenders truly are!

Go SoCal Go!

 

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A scene from the Winter Classic between the Kings and the Ducks at Dodger Stadium in 2014; if this didn’t promote hockey on SoCal, nothing did or will. Photo courtesy of gospelherald.com

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