After clinching the Carolina Amateur Hockey Association state title, the Jr. Checkers Bantam AA team will compete in the USA Hockey National Championships in Hackensack, N.J., from April 2-6.
It will be the fourth consecutive trip to the tournament for the majority of the team made up of 17 boys (birth years 1999 and 2000) looking for their first national title. The team posted a record of 40-10-7 this season, winning the Silver Stick Regional Tournament and ranking 18th out of 651 teams in the country.
“I remember that feeling when we lost the first year,” said Jr. Checkers Captain Dylan Fields, who is making his fourth trip to Nationals. “All that hard work the entire season and we came up short. Then it happened to us again in Washington, D.C., and again last year at home.”
“This is our year. It’s got to be," added Fields.
"I asked these boys in August to commit themselves to playing and winning the USA Hockey National Championship this season,” said Head Coach David James. “Their hard work, desire and dedication to that one goal has come to fruition and we are excited to see it through. We are going to have to be perfect for five games to make this dream a reality."
Logging countless miles by land and air over the course of the season, the team, coaches and parents braved sub-zero temperatures in Polar Vortex-ravaged cities as far north as Port Huron, Michigan. Across the Great Lakes, they hauled equipment bags and hockey sticks, navigating snow packed roads as they piled up victories at tournaments in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Maryland.
The team is now hoping that all that hard work and all those miles driven will earn them the right to raise the banner at Extreme Ice Center as national champions later this spring.
The Jr. Checkers would graciously accept donations to help fund the expenses they will incur from a week-long stay during the competition. Click here to learn more about helping the team.
- Written by Mike Lappan