State hockey tournament cancelled |

State hockey tournament cancelled

by Donnie Nelson

Much to the dismay of the eight teams that had qualified, the Nevada High School Hockey Association’s state tournament has been canceled.

The tournament, which was to be played Friday and today at the High Sierra Hockey House in Reno, was to feature the top four teams from the north and south in a pool play format. Douglas, which finished third in both the regular season standings and northern zone playoffs, was one of the qualifiers.

Unfortunately, the southern teams encountered difficulties with the status of their eligibility and had to back out of the tournament. The state tournament, which was contested for the first time last year in Las Vegas, is expected to resume next year.

It was a wonderful year for the Douglas program at the varsity and junior varsity levels. The J.V. team also qualified for a state tournament.

The varsity Tigers concluded the regular season with a seven-game winning streak and an 8-2 record. They lost to Carson in the semifinals of the zone tournament, but came back to beat McQueen in the consolation final to capture the north’s No. 3 seed.

The Tigers, it seemed, were just starting to play their best hockey. They gained the respect of the top programs in northern Nevada this season with their late-season run.

“I was pretty happy with the kids this year,” Douglas varsity coach Hector Quiroga said. “They did the best they could with what we had. We had a lot of fun.”

The Douglas team featured some of the top offensive and defensive players in the league. It’s first and second lines were able to match up with the other top groups in the league.

Jared Van Bruggen and Rocky Radka were productive scorers while Brian Dries, Mario Quiroga and goalie Dave Boyer were stingy defenders on Douglas’ first line.

“They worked well together,” Quiroga said. “The second line was younger, but it did a good job also.”

In the Douglas system, offensive and defensive players are not always what they seem, when even defenders push forward and get in on the attack. The players gradually learned the system and were posting high goal-scoring totals over the final five games of the regular season.

“They came a long way,” Quiroga said. “One of the problems we had in the past was there were no developed forwards. This year, we had some kids come along nicely.”

Other top players for the Tigers were Josh Van Bruggen, Devon Van Alyne, Greg Rowe, Mike Grimes, John Galicia, Sean Maxey, and Chris Martin.

Douglas will lose Boyer, Jared Van Bruggen and Rowe to graduation, but return a host of young, skilled players. There are also some junior varsity players who will be able to step up and contribute next year, Quiroga said.

The Douglas players will work hard in the off-season, according to Quiroga, playing in puck tournaments in California ball games around town.

One thing that would help the Douglas program be more competitive and the Carson Valley In-Line Hockey League flourish would be the construction of a permanent rink and facility.

“I couldn’t tell you how much that would benefit our program,” Quiroga said. “I knew one of the problems we would face in the tournament would be our conditioning. We just can’t get enough (practice) time.”

The Douglas program works out at the Pony Express Pavilion (Mills Park) in Carson City once a week. The Carson Valley In-Line Hockey League plays at a makeshift venue in the parking lot of C.C. Meneley.

Still, even with the lack of practice time and playing experience, the Douglas High School program has established itself as one of the most competitive in northern Nevada. And, Quiroga thinks the program is closing the gap on its southern counterparts.

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