In a nail-biter of a sendoff, Los Alamitos High School's inaugural hockey season came to a close Thursday evening.
"It was just an honor to play in the Championships," said Joshua Miller, Griffin No. 77, after he left the stadium. "If we kept our head in it, we could have won."
Hundreds of supporters for the two teams sat on the southern side of the Anaheim Duck’s home ice. Many Los Al fans dressed in red, blue and black shirts and sweaters with their team’s mascot on them.
During breaks in the games' three periods, stadium staff played many classic songs like “We are the Champions," new songs like “Gangnam Style” and a few songs people don't normally associate with hockey: Darth Vader’s theme, "The Imperial March."
Sherry Kropp, Los Alamitos Unified School District superintendent, stood in the second row, cheering her team on.
A self-described hockey fan, Kropp said she loved having a hockey team at Los Al High.
“This is just wonderful for this group of students to get to connect with something they love,” Kropp said.
According to Kropp, without the support of the parents, volunteers, teachers, students and, of course, the Ducks, the whole league wouldn’t have happened.
A few moments later she went back to the game.
“Isn’t that a foul?” she yelled toward the ice.
Sylvia Kenmuir, of Cypress, said it was her son Tripp’s final match before he goes to college at Arizona State.
Kenmuir said she’s proud of her son, No. 40, who's been playing hockey for 12 years.
And, she adds, she's happy Tripp's skill on the ice helped correct a misperception held by relatives in the colder parts of America who have trouble believing anyone plays hockey in the land of palm trees and sunny beaches, she said.
“He proved them wrong,” she said. “Also the Ducks and the Kings (prove them wrong) too.”
Kenmuir wasn’t the only proud parent.
Seal Beach resident Greg Wesolek said his son Daniel, No. 98, pushed forward in a competitive match despite getting over an illness the previous week.
“I’m proud of the way he played,” Wesolek said. “He really upped his game,"
Rossmoor resident Rachael DeMarco said it was disappointing to lose, but having a hockey team at Los Al more than made up for it.
She said she still remembers the time her son Anthony, No. 13, told her excitedly that he'd be able to hit the ice locally.
“He never dreamed he would be playing hockey for his high school,” Rachael said, adding she was amazed too see the championship game played in the NHL arena.
“That’s like a little league, playing their final game at Angel's Stadium,” she said.
Los Al went 7-2-3 in league and 1-1 in the playoffs, and JSerra went 11-1 in league and 2-0 in the playoffs.
The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey league has 17 teams divided into tiers -- there are five teams in Los Al’s tier, and the league expects more teams to join before the next season begins in September, according to Los Al Team Manager Rich Castellanos. Made up of players from Los Alamitos High School and Cypress, Long Beach, Cerritos, Newport Beach, Coto de Caza and Riverside, the Los Al club plays at Anaheim Ice.
To view game highlights, player statistics and team photos, visit http://www.anaheimducksgoalhighschoolhockey.com/page/show/739268-los-alamitos
For more information on the program, email Castellanos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Roster (courtesy Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League)