State Wars VIII : 2002 Recap
2002 Birth Year Division
Recapping an Exciting Summer of State Wars Hockey
Over the next few months we will be releasing recaps of ALL of the divisions that took place at State Wars this summer.  Obviously a lot of work goes into each one of these newsletters, as you will see from the content below, so please be patient as we will get to your division.  This week we are featuring the always fun and energized 2002 division.  We also will be posting numerous pictures on Facebook of the division we are highlighting so make sure you check it out.  To see this info on Facebook, make sure you LIKE our State Wars Hockey Community Page (more info in the right column).  Thank you for being a part of State Wars Hockey...enjoy!

2002 Division Full of Talent, Energy, and Smiles 

The 2002 division is a fun age group to watch for many reasons.  The players are still young enough that they always have a smile on their faces and just love to PLAY the game, no matter what the score or who they are playing. But they are also maturing to where they are starting to really understand the game and take it to the next level. You start to see breakouts, solid goal tending, and special team setups.  Truly great to watch and of course the strong competition makes it that much sweeter.  


The 2002 AAA/AA division would feature 10 teams, representing Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missiouri (3 squads), Northern California, Southern California, and a mixed state team called Team Mission (mainly made up of players from TN and TX). A testament to how solid a division this was is that 9 of the teams came away with at least one point and 6 of the teams won at least 2 games in round robin play. Southern California and Florida would be the only two undefeated teams, finishing with a 4-0 record each.



Our hope is that everyone in attendance had a terrific time win or lose. State Wars is about so much more than just the play between the whistles. It is about representing where you come from and taking pride in that, something that should be taught at an early age. It is also about playing with different players from around the state or province and making tons of new friendships. It is also a special time for families to spend together and hopefully create life long memories that we can all look back at one day.


Thank you for making State Wars Hockey so special for us and please help spread the word to others about this event, as we strive each year to get bigger and better!   



2002 Division Up For Grabs at State Wars 8

Southern California would lead the pack in the 2002 division, which seemed to be a growing theme in the youngest birth year divisions this summer. Great coaching and a huge pool of players playing the game in So Cal, makes them a tough team to play in all ages. Ean Somoza and Luke Faas would continue their dominance from the '03 division but it would be the awesome play of Alexander Leigh, Isaiah Martinez and Johan Kim that would lead Southern California to early dominance. Drake Daley would only get better each game in net, posting an incredible .75 goals against average through round robin play.  


Florida also always known for their strong youth players and great coaching, would live up to their billing as well, also posting a 4-0 record and dominating early pool play. William Laychur and Zach Hanchuk would prove to be two of the top '02s in North America and would lead the way, combining for an incredible 21 goals, while also playing great defense! Dylan O'Connor would bring some extra aggressiveness and energy to the team as well.  JJ Cataldo would record a .878 save % through round robin play.     




Missouri would field three teams in this division as the host state. Their top AAA/AA team would be a team to reckon with, recording a 3-1 record after playing a tough loss to So Cal 5-2. This roster was probably the deepest in the division as every player would be highly talented. Zac Maupin and Jared Bratton would be the leading scorers of the team. Brett Robinson would anchor the defense and control play. Blake Harper coming off an MVG performance in 2011 would play extremely well between the pipes. The Missouri AA team was led by Logan Boatright and Tyler Caine. Abby McGuire and Josey Dunne would add some "girl power". The AA/A squad would have a tough time through round robin but seemed to improve each game. Blake Boatright and Matthew Harber would lead the team in battle.    


Northern California was one of my dark horse picks coming into the tournament and they did not disappoint, finishing with a 3-1 record. Their only loss was an 8-4 contest with Florida. Bailey Rios, Erick Benard, and Jacob Dunlavy would each score 7 goals and Hunter Souza would act as a great play maker. Goaltender Tristan Telles proved to be one of the best goal keeps around, keeping Nor Cal in every game.





It was great to see Kansas field a young 2002 team this year for the first time and we were all very impressed with the talent they had to offer. Blake Hawkins would prove to be one of the top players in the division, scoring an impressive 11 points. Cameron Crolley, Trevor Bolden, and Ethan Elstun would be a great supporting cast, helping lead Kansas to a 2-2 record. Bryson Shields did a solid job in goal, facing over 70 shots in round robin play.   


Michigan would have a great combination of size and speed as Max Savel and Tyler Hissong would be two tough players to move around showing great toughness. Bryce Livesy and Christopher Dundas would add some razzle dazzle, making Michigan a tough team to beat. Nik Simo would play well in net, finishing with a 2-2 record.   



Each year, we offer a "mixed state" team or two in the youngest divisions, to insure that all players have somewhere to play at this great event. This time around Team Mission was formed, with players representing Texas and Tennessee making up the roster (along with a local goaltender, Carson Dahl). Coached by staff pro Ryan Carey, Team Mission would play solid considering they had never played together before. Tennessee's own Slava Yarger and Brett Worster would take charge scoring the majority of the teams goals. Trevor Oulette and Liam Beaver would make sure Texas was remembered as well, chipping in some points too. Carson Dahl would play terrific in net, facing over 80 shots! Lets hope that Tennessee and Texas will field their own '02 teams in 2013! 


Illinois is another state very good at developing young players. Even with a short roster, Illinois worked very hard and was led by standout Ethan Chipping (12 goals). Nicholas Cyr, Griffin Kluzek, and Noah Cape showed a lot of heart and continued to improve each game. William Gates proved to be a formidable goaltender, facing 77 shots in pool play.   



Florida & Southern California Lead the Pack

At the conclusion of round robin play, the top 4 elite teams would advance to a very strong AAA playoff bracket and the next 6 teams would advance to the AA playoffs. Both Florida and Southern California with their unblemished records would be the favorites heading into the playoffs, looking towards the ultimate showdown. Missouri would have other ideas as they looked forward to their match with Florida, hoping that some home cooking would give them the edge. Their semi final would see Florida control the first half, getting two goals from spark plug Tyler Dickinson (assisted by Tyler Davidson and Zach Hanchuk). Florida would carry the 2-0 lead into the half. Seconds into the second half, Florida roller hockey's version of Steven Stamkos, William Laychur would put his team up 3-0. Justin Skaggs would convert a Benjamin Wuori pass to put Missouri on the board, only to be answered by the dynamic duo of Laychur and Hanchuk. Jared Bratton would assist Skaggs' second of the game, but that wouldn't be enough as Florida would win 4-2 in a great game, looking to play for State Wars gold. Blake Harper was under a lot of pressure in goal for Missouri and did a stellar job, turning away 11 of 15 shots faced.


The other AAA semi final would be a battle of California as the North would meet the South. This time it would be all Southern Cal, as the boys from up North never really seemed ready to go in this one and got very overwhelmed early on. Luke Faas scored twice in the first 90 seconds of the game and that seemed to be the story of the game. Ean Somoza and Johan Kim would both add hat tricks as well and Clay Bozanich would play the role of setup man, recording three assists in the contest.  So Cal would cruise to a 8-0 victory and a shot at the other undefeated team in Florida. Tristan Telles was under siege all game and did his best to keep Nor Cal in the game.


The AAA final would feature what it should, two undefeated teams that were both tops in the division throughout the tournament. East meets west, as two states known for their beautiful beaches and terrific roller hockey talent would meet. Besides having great players, both teams also had terrific head coaches.  So Cal was lead by Nabeel Gerges of Revision Hockey, who has won many National Championships and seems to get the most out of his players. Florida was lucky to be led by head coach Jason Hanchuk who also carries a lot of experience. Hanchuk had not only played ice hockey for Michigan Tech but played pro roller hockey for the Ottawa Loggers in the now defunct RHI. Taking after dad, Zach Hanchuk would open the scoring twenty ticks into the game, giving Florida a 1-0 lead. Isaiah Martinez would answer right back for So Cal, taking a feed from Alexander Leigh. After Hanchuk would put Florida up again, the two Tyler's "Dickinson and Davidson" would put Florida up 3-1 at half time. An early So Cal power play would slip away, as William Laychur would score a "shorty". Both teams would battle back and forth for most of the second half, as both goaltenders (Drake Daley and JJ Cataldo) would show why they are two of the best in North America. I watched every moment of this game, which says a lot for the action, as I am typically pulled in a ton of different directions during the day. Both teams showed so much poise, great passing ability, and terrific defense. It was also very amusing to watch the parents cheering along the upper concourse of the Mission Rink. At one point after a Florida goal, I witnessed two Florida dads jump up and chest was classic and made me wishing I had a video camera with me.  Back to the action... mid way through the second half, Laychur would stretch the lead to 5-1. Southern California would not go quietly however, as Leigh would add a goal of his own and then teammate Johan Kim would add another, making the score 5-3. The game would end here and once again it was one of the best matches of the event. Helmets off to both teams, as no one deserved to lose this game and both teams played simply awesome. I look forward to a great rivalry between these two well balanced teams. Florida would take home AAA gold, So Cal silver and Missouri would capture the bronze. William Laychur who seemed to win everything this year, would also take home the Mission Hockey MVP Award, winning a new pair of Mission skates. 



Michigan Dominates Come Playoff Time
The AA playoffs would feature 6 teams, with the top two teams through pool play (Michigan and Kansas) getting a bye to the semi finals. The first preliminary match would see Team Mission squaring off against the Missouri AA/A squad. Mission would be led by two terrific players from Tennesee (Slava Yarger) and Texas (Trevor Ouellette), as they would combine for 7 goals and 10 points in this one. Needless to say, Mission would dominate much of this playoff game, as Caleb Kochner and Matthew Harber would find the back of the net for Missouri. Joey Epplin would add a goal for Mission and Liam Beaver would close the game out with a pair of his own. In the end Team Mission would prevail by a 10-2 score. James Dunne would be peppered all game in net but did his best to keep Missouri in the game. Carson Dahl would stand tall in net for Mission, not seeing much action but responding when called upon to make a save.


The other preliminary playoff game would see two very equal teams in Missouri AA and Illinois. Who else but Ethan Chipping would get Illinois on the board, scoring less than two minutes into the game. Joseph Berni would knot the game at one apiece and Abby McGuire would bury a nice feed from Tyler Caine to give Missouri a 2-1 lead. Chipping would return the favor for Illinois, this time converting a pass from Griffin Kluzek, 2-2 at half. Just as he did in the first, Chipping would open the half with an unassisted goal, giving him an early hat trick. Missouri's Jack Johnsen would then score two straight, assisted by Caine and Logan Boatright. Nicholas Niemeier would add to the Missouri lead, 5-3. Once again Chipping would tally one for Illinois, making it a one goal game. In the final minute, Berni would end Illinois hopes, scoring the final goal of the game, 6-4 Missouri would win. William Gates would play terrific in net for Illinois, facing 25 tough shots. Chase Christopher would play very well also in net for Missouri, helping them advance to the semi finals.

As each round goes by, the competition obviously gets tougher and the games become that much more stressful. The benefit to finishing with a top seeded record, is getting that first round bye. One less game to worry about, only having to win two games to win it all, rather than a tough three. Mission would face Kansas in the first semi final game, riding all kinds of adrenaline after their strong victory in round one. Kansas was well rested and ready to answer the call in their first ever State Wars playoff game. Kansas opened the scoring as the "Hawk", Blake Hawkins would combine with Trevor Bolden for a goal and moments later on the power play, Bolden would score one of his own off of a feed from Cameron Crolley. Joey Epplin and Brett Worster would get Team Mission back in the game, both scoring late goals and tying the game 2-2 at half. Who else but the Hawk would get Kansas roaring once again, scoring not one but two times in the opening minutes of the second half, this time Blake Rojas would chip in an assist of his own. Both halves seemed identical, Kansas would own the opening minutes and Mission would dominant the later ones. Trevor Ouellette would get his team within one and Worster would tie the score once again in the final moments, standout Slava Yarger would set up both. So here we would see our first overtime of the 2002 AA playoffs, meaning sudden death, greying of hair, loss of hair, and constant biting of finger nails...and I'm only referring to the parents here! Players on the other hand don't want to make a mistake, every move or mistake is magnified and can always be your last. The biggest pressure is on the goaltenders, Bryson Shields (Kansas) and Carson Dahl (Mission) have both been terrific through this point and making key saves in the extra period. Who else but Hawkins, netting his fourth of the game would end it for Kansas, sending his team to the AA championship game and chance to lift the precious and very HEAVY,  State Wars Cup.


Michigan had been the top seeded team coming into the playoffs and they looked it right from the drop of the puck. They are what we refer to as a "tweener team", could have held their own in AAA but would be very tough in AA. Unfortunately for the rest of the division, Michigan would fall to the AA bracket and be a heavy favorite. The AA semi final against Missouri AA would be dominated by Michigan. From Tyler Hissong's opening goal to Max Savel's clincher moments into the second half, the game would be owned by Michigan. Christoper Dundas would score a couple goals as would Bryce Livesey, showing a full throttle offensive attack by Michigan. Savel would lead the way with a hat trick, as Michigan would win 9-1 and move on to the AA final.

Just as we had seen in the AAA final, the AA championship game would feature the top two seeded teams in the division, this time Kansas and Michigan. Kansas had looked like a team of destiny in the last round but Michigan would look to tough to beat. Max Savel would open the scoring only seconds into the first half, the first of his four goals. Noah Woods would be the latest Michigan player to catch fire, as he would add a hat trick and assist of his own in the final game as well. Gavin Davis would get Kansas on the board mid way through, assisted by Eli Gratz. Cameron Crolley, who had dominated much of the tourney would net two of his own to close the score to 7-3. Michigan wouldn't stop here however as Bryce Livesey and Christopher Dundas would just add to the lead, as Michigan would end up with a huge 11-3 win over Kansas and the honor of being named 2002 AA Champs! With Michigan winning gold, Kansas silver, and Team Mission taking home the bronze. Michigan's Max Savel would receive the honor of being named the "Mission Hockey MVP" with his 5 point performance in the final game.



Individual Award Winners

   "Warrior High Scorer"                       William Laychur (FL)

   "Best Defensive Player"                    Brett Robinson (MO)  

   "Goalie Monkey's MVG"                    JJ Cataldo (FL)  

   "Mission Hockey AAA MVP"             William Laychur (FL) 

   "Mission Hockey  AA MVP"               Max Savel (MI)                    



Alkali Hockey Skills Competition Winners


   "Alkali Hockey Top Sniper"        William Laychur (FL)  

   "Alkali Hockey Fastest Skater"  Bailey Rios (Nor Cal) 

   "Alkali Hockey Top Goalie"        JJ Cataldo (FL)    



Pride & Honor All Star Selections

                                                                                                            TEAM HONOR: William Laychur (FL), Blake Hawkins (KS), Jared Bratton (MO), Blake Boatright (MO), Alexander Leigh (So Cal), Luke Faas (So Cal), Zac Maupin (MO), Ethan Chipping (NC), Zach Hanchuk (FL), Bailey Rios (Nor Cal), JJ Cataldo (FL), and Blake Harper (MO). 



TEAM PRIDE: Ean Somoza (So Cal), Bryce Livesey (MI), Joseph Berni (MO), Erick Benard (Nor Cal), Slava Yarger (TN), Tyler Dickinson (FL), Cameron Crolley (KS), Max Savel (MI), Brett Robinson (MO), Noah Cape (IL), William Gates (IL), and Nikolas Simo (MI).  

Team North America (the best 02's at State Wars)


William Laychur(FL), Brett Robinson (MO), Ethan Chipping (NC), Erick Benard (Nor Cal), Slava Yarger (TN), Jared Bratton (MO), Blake Hawkins (KS), Alexander Leigh (So Cal), Tyler Dickinson (FL), Max Savel (MI), Blake Harper (MO), and JJ Cataldo (FL).    




In This Issue
Division Up For Grabs
Leading the Pack
Motown Dominance
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July 31 - Aug 11  2103
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