In Southern California, many people like to go hang with friends at the beach and get a tan. Others like to play football, soccer or baseball. Deep within the SoCal sports community, there is a small but mighty group—the hockey players.
Newport Mesa has had a hockey program with the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League for five years, but most people don’t even know about it. It’s a shame because the Ice Kings were champions in their 2012-2013 inaugural season.
Coach Maik Tatavasian was one of the coaches that year. Now he is back on the ice, hoping to lead the Ice Kings to victory once again. This time, however, it will be more difficult.
“In the inaugural season, our team was more mature in terms of average age and skill level of players. Our team is now very young but eager to learn and motivated to get better,” he said.
Finding enough players for a team in such a warm-weathered community like this must be hard.
“Recruiting players is always challenging no matter where you are. With a program like ours, it’s crucial we get the team or league information out to young players,” he added.
Tatavasian’s efforts have paid off. This year, the club managed to get a full roster, pulling in players from up the coast and from other schools in Newport Mesa. Even with star players, coaching is a tough job. Luckily, Coack Tatavasian grew up playing the sport; the Ice Kings are in good hands.
“Every year a coach should reflect on the job he or she did that season. I believe it’s important to see where I had success and where I need to be better,” said Coach Tatavasian.
Tatavasian has improved his way of coaching each season, whether by different drills, new bonding exercises, or better pregame pep talks.
The team has a camaraderie all its own. On this squad, everyone, from seniors to freshmen, plays on the same team.
“It’s easy to bond since we have the sport of hockey in common and know a lot of the same people,” said sophomore defenseman Ben Marks.
There isn’t a very large community of hockey players, so everyone needs to stick together.
“It wasn’t hard to bond because everyone was nice and friendly,” said freshman center Solomon Sonenshine.
This is an impressive statement, especially from Sonenshine, who is a new player. He felt joining the team where most of the other players have known each other for a while wasn’t as bad as he thought.
“I felt like I was in a good environment with friendly people,” he said.
The Newport Mesa Hockey organization has not grown much over the years, but it is a very tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone; it’s almost its own secret society.
In the Golden State, hockey is not a popular sport. This can bring team members closer together, but it can also have its downsides.
“It’s not weird because hockey has grown so much due to the Anaheim Ducks and Teemu Selanne,” said Marks.
“I think it is a little weird, but I like being different and not just following the group,” said Sonenshine.
The team practices every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:50 PM at The Rinks at Anaheim Ice located at 300 West Lincoln in Anaheim and plays games on weekends. Come out and catch a game if you’d like.