Steinkopff, Tahoe Grizzlies end successful season in state tournament
Sun News Service
By far the smallest area represented at the California Junior Hockey Association state championships last weekend in San Jose, the Tahoe Grizzlies didnand#8217;t back down from their major-city competition.
Tahoe, which stunningly captured the second seed from the Northern California Junior Hockey Association playoffs, went 0-3 in the state tournament Friday and Saturday.
The Grizzlies struggled to light the lamp, losing to the eventual state champ Anaheim 10-2 on Friday in their Squirt B tournament opener, then were beaten 8-0 by Bakersfield on Saturday.
and#8220;Having not seen the Southern California teams before, we were surprised at how well they moved the puck, and thus, they provided a very difficult game for our defense to control,and#8221; said Tahoe Grizzliesand#8217; assistant coach Jim Marino. and#8220;Our kids tried very, very hard, played physical and positional hockey, but just could not generate much offense against these teams.and#8221;
Marino said the Anaheim squad was coach by 12-year NHL pro and former Team USA player Craig Johnson.
and#8220;The Anaheim team probably could have beaten some of the upper-age groups,and#8221; Marino said.
Tahoe concluded only the second state tournament appearance by one of its teams with a 10-2 loss to NorCal league champion Tri Valley 10-2 Saturday afternoon. Tri Valley, which went unscathed against NorCal opponents this season, lost to Bakersfield 4-2 and Anaheim 3-1.
The Grizzlies goals came off the sticks of Tahoe Cityand#8217;s Wesley Steinkopff, a breakaway effort against Tri-Valley; South Lake Tahoeand#8217;s Bailey Johnson, a rebound shot against Tri-Valley; and South Lake Tahoeand#8217;s Cameron Johnson, who scored twice against the Anaheim Wildcats.
The busiest Grizzliesand#8217; player throughout the weekend was goaltender Nick Ilvento, who faced 152 shots and finished with an 85 percent save rate.
and#8220;Congrats go out to all of our team members for a job well done,and#8221; Marino said. and#8220;Their persistence and work ethic took them past the big Norcal teams all the way to the states. Each and every one of them played an important role in the seasonand#8217;s success.and#8221;
Steve Rooney served as the Grizzliesand#8217; head coach.